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The Shadow is a dedicated troop and vehicle transport machine of the Covenant, similar to the UNSC Warthog and the UNSC Elephant. As such, it is not an offensive vehicle, and due to its low speed, it can be characterised as slow and cumbersome. However, it possesses a powerful defensive plasma turret (similar to the Elephant's turret), which is used solely for defense. The vehicle itself can be easily outmaneuvered by smaller vehicles such as the Warthog or Ghost. Its heavy armor is its best defense against attack and is the reason for its slow speed.
The vehicle itself is almost always manned by a Sangheili driver and a gunner. Shadows encountered so far have been observed transporting one unmanned Ghost and therefore had a crew complement of only two. Infantry transport versions are typically able to carry approximately eight passengers, though the exact number varies depending on their species. Although the transport bay is exposed, it is unknown if these passengers could lend their own firepower to the Shadow's defense. In addition, whether this is a variant of the Shadow or not, they are capable of flight.
Shadows are the Covenant's main method of moving large numbers of troops around ground based battlefields. They have one driver, a gunner and up to eight occupants, depending on the species of the passengers. The Shadow's purpose have gained it the nickname of "Covenant Bus."
The Shadow also doubles as a small vehicle transporter and is outfitted to carry Ghosts the same way as the M312 would carry Mongooses. However, their main purpose is to deploy infantry; mainly Sangheili, Jiralhanae, Unggoy, and Kig-Yar; straight into the fight. For point defense, it is equipped with a heavy Type-29 Plasma Cannon.
Unlike the Shielded Plasma Cannon, this mounted plasma version seems to need a period of time to 'cycle up' to maximum firing rate (similar to the M41 Light Anti-Aircraft Gun on the Warthog). This maximum fire rate is superior to that of both the portable Plasma Cannon and the Shielded Plasma Cannon turret. It can lay down a torrent of plasma fire that is deadly to infantry and vehicles alike.
Through modding, one will find that the Shadow has the ability to boost, much like the Ghost and the Spectre. This can be seen without modding; Elite drivers will often boost when you catch up to them or when you are spotted by the gunner. The Shadow's boost gives it a hard time stopping after deployed for a few seconds. Akin to the Ghost and especially the Spectre, it also can pop "wheelies" through the A button.
The Shadow is a bulky, heavily armored vehicle and as such is able to take an immense amount of punishment, yet still move. The Shadow may endure multiple internal explosions that rock its entire chassis or lift it from the floor while under intense fire.
Therefore, it is advisable to focus all attentions on the driver of the Shadow. Often the gunner must be dealt with first, but due to the exposed nature of its position, this will pose little problem (the Shadow's gunner will fire at a slow rate, though if you hop in the gunner seat, the rate of fire is increased dramatically if you continue to fire over a period of time). The turret has the capable and comparable power of a Phantom's guns, but can shoot faster and at a greater rate and distance.
Once incapacitated, the Shadow will drop its load on the ground. Like all Covenant vehicles, the Shadow, once taken down, will experience a secondary detonation. This is by far the largest of all such critical damage reactions of any Covenant vehicle (excluding the Scarab), resulting in an immense explosion. The explosion has the ability to catapult the vehicle into the air, sometimes even culminating in a roll-over.
However, if you simply cannot take out the gunner, all you have to do is charge up to the very back and just fire while pushing against it. This way, you're inflicting heavy damage while avoiding the deadly turret, which can't hit you at this angle.
Unlike almost all other land-based vehicles in Halo 2, the Shadow is not a pilot-able (except the turret) vehicle for the player. This makes it only useful as a placed turret, albeit a very powerful one. The Shadow is exclusive to the level Outskirts, where John-117 must destroy a convoy of them. The turret functions similar to the Covenant Shade plasma turret, but with one difference: it "spins up" to an extremely high rate of fire when used continuously, similar to the Human turrets.
The Shadows in Halo 2 are always seen transporting Ghosts, never infantry, but the seat bearing Shadows can be unlocked via a modded Xbox. It was discovered to be a drivable vehicle in the Halo 3 Beta code, although Shadows are never encountered in Halo 3.
- Unggoy have an animation, but it is not used in actual gameplay. However, they can be seen in the Halo 2 E3 2003 Demo.
- Kig-Yar (Animation only)
- Jiralhanae (Animation only)
- Spartan-IIs do have the driving animation, but the game disables entry into the seat (without modding the map file). It is able to be boarded in Halo 2 Vista Multiplayer Mode. The player also can board the turret after killing the driver.
- The Shadow was originally going to be included in Halo: Combat Evolved as a Covenant version of the Warthog, but was cut when Bungie decided the game would be a first-person shooter.[verification needed]
- In Halo: Uprising, the Shadows were used to take civilian prisoners to the stadium in Cleveland.
- Halo 2 (First appearance)
- Halo Graphic Novel
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx
- Halo: Uprising
- Halo: Escalation