Halo embarks in new territory in Halo 3: ODST. Leaving the Master Chief in Halo 3, ODST features more of the human-covenant struggle with a few new tweaks and turns. Be prepared to drop, shock, and roll in Halo 3: ODST.
For starters we have to point out that Halo 3: ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) is not the next evolution in the Halo series, this is not Halo 4, its only a Halo 3 expansion. So if you have been hyped up waiting to get back into the combat armour as Master Chief, you'll have to wait a bit longer. Halo 3: ODST follows the ODST elite forces in a new adventure, who needs those Spartan-II Commando's anyway?!
Shock n' Roll
In ODST you play a normal Shock Trooper, the average solider defending Earth from an alien invasion. Your character is more fragile then Master Chief and has to rely on a tactical approach rather than the John Rambo method of head-on blazing guns. Compared to the first three Halo games, you have to rethink your movements because this is one fight that can't be taken on like a masterful cyborg solider. This makes the game instantaneously more challenging and interesting for those who have finished the fight in the past. Once you accept ODST for what it is, you can see that Bungie is offering us Halo fans another perspective on a war with a new hero, new weapons, and a new conceptual way in the Halo universe that we love.
ODST is set before the events in Halo 3 and ironically it starts out in a crash site just like the first Halo game. As “the Rookie” you leave your cracked pod to find that you have been stranded somewhere in New Mombasa. In New Mombasa which acts as you hub, you will have to search for other members of your squad. When you eventually find each member of your squad (or what’s left of them) you will teleport into their past and experience their story and how they came to be where you found them. This idea is a fresh idea from playing a single character throughout the whole game and it works. I’m not too big on the central hub idea, but I can see why Bungie experimented with it for ODST. Funny enough the idea of a hub reminded me of this years Wolfenstein (2009), minus the Nazi’s and supernatural powers--- of course.
Becoming the Rookie
The gameplay is pure classic Halo and experts will get right to the motions as soon as the start. The levels in ODST are varied enough with on-foot aspects and driving missions including some air time in a Banshee. The whole campaign isn’t overly long and can be finished in one to two sittings depending on your difficulty level. The Rookie is a little slower than a Spartan, so head-to-head battles are not advised. Like I mentioned above, you will need to rethink your strategies slightly as the meek trooper. Unlike the Chief, the ODST only have a battle shield and then have to find health packs. Using health in a Halo game feels a little strange at first, but it achieves Bungie's goal of making the Trooper feel more human. Like the combat you will have to adjust to finding health packs and not relying on a regenerative shield. It's an interesting way to play Halo, I’m just hoping they don’t stick to this formula when the Chief comes back.
Taking Out the Trash
The enemies are the same brood of Covenant trash you have been taking out in the last three games (add one more if you include Halo Wars). Nothing new to report there which is kind of a shame. No Flood, no other alien species, it's just the humans vs. the Covenant. Even without any surprises the Covenant can still provide a challenge and the difficulty is perfectly suited for all levels of experience, including the hardcore. Although expect the Covenant to use the urban terrain a little more tactically with stashed snipers, more turret units, and ambushes set up to corner the player. ODST starts a little tight, but opens up later on which is refreshing, so don’t judge the game on the first few chapters entirely.
It's cool, it's awesome, It's Firefight!
Aside from the main mission ODST has one new multiplayer section on the main disc. This multiplayer mode (with co-op support) is called Firefight. Firefight is a great idea for Halo and is a hell of a lot of fun. In Firefight you fight against a never-ending spawn of enemy covenant until you can’t handle the onslaught and perish. There are 10 levels to fight through, leaderboard support and trophies to unlock in this mode which will keep you and your friends busy. Firefight can be really involved and chaotic which means you need to use a one-minded strategy to stay alive, and since all the players share the lives, you’ll want to work as a team. The pack mentality seems to work for the enemy and now you’ll have to make it work for you. Add the co-op support through the main mission, the firefight mode, and the Halo 3 complete multiplayer and ODST becomes a behemoth of a multiplayer game.
Huh, Don't I already own one of those?!
The only questionable move with Halo 3: ODST is that they didn't include any other multiplayer modes in ODST, just the firefight. To justify this, or maybe to the retail price of $60.00, ODST comes bungled with the full Halo 3 multiplayer component. Now it is unlikely that you don’t own Halo 3, if you’re are purchasing ODST, however if this is the case then you have just scored a disc of unlimited value as Halo 3’s multiplayer is still one of the best, and most played multiplayer games on Xbox Live. Take or leave it, give it to a friend, or keep it. Including Halo 3's multiplayer disc has to be looked at as a bonus, and for those who already own Halo 3, at least you don't have to fish out your copy of Halo 3 to play the multiplayer, just keep ODST handy and ready to go.
The Return of the Pistol
Surprisingly ODST only has new weapons introduced to the game, first being the Auto-Mag Pistol which is reminiscent of Combat Evolved knockout pistol, and secondly a Silenced SMG rife. Both weapons are a nice addition to the armoury in Halo, but I would have liked to see a few more tricks up the sleeve of the trooper. Plus these two weapons are a little unbalanced. Both have excellent range, almost as good as a sniper rifle, and they both deal out a good deal of punishment. The little pistol is the most impressive and can take out grunts with single head shot. Believe it, or not, the pistol is one of the best weapons in the game, and usually my weapon of choice. For me two new weapons are not enough and I feel ODST would have been bettered severed with at least four new weapons... maybe something a little more interesting. We are in the future and all, and it’s always comes down to standardised weapons shooting lasers, plasma, or bullets. Common’ we need a little more if the ODST has to compete with the Chief.
Line-art, The Helmet
Along with the two new weapons you will also notice a new HUD in ODST. The Shock Troopers have a VISR (Visual Intelligence System Reconnaissance) feature build into their helmet which outlines the surrounds in basic geometry while highlighting the enemies in red. The VISR also lets you see in complete darkness, and to play off this Bungie has made the general atmosphere and corridors at lot darker. Compared to the other Halo games, ODST has a darker more sinister feel to it. Turning on the VISR will get you through the tight spots while giving you a little bit of a drop on the enemy. I’m not sure if I really dug this new feature because it felt a little like cheating, again similar to Wolfenstein’s special vision. When I didn’t need the VISR, I didn’t use it. I think Bungie was on the right track with something a little unique for the Shock Troopers; however the VISR might not be the perfect choice.
A little Sharper than Before
Graphically, Halo: ODST is a marginal step up from Halo 3. The engine seems to be running a little smoother and the lighting effects seem sharper and more dynamic than before. The thing you have to keep in mind is that the same core engine is running the show, so you’re not going to have a huge improvement in this area. The character models look a lot more shaky a few years later and we’ll be looking towards REACH for that sweet graphical upgrade. In basics Halo 3 looks good enough and best yet, the framerate never falters even in total chaos. Mood and setting is the key ingredient in ODST and in respect to building atmosphere ODST does a great job.
Never Sounded Better
The sound in Halo is the same excellence of quality you have come to expect. The voice acting, soundtrack and effects are at the top of their game. Each characters you inhabit have their own distinct tones that have been wonderfully performed with conviction. Everything else sounds exactly how you would expect a Halo game to sound, and is equally strong. Halo has become such a landmark game that when you hear an enemy coming you can often tell what beast it is before you see it.
Another strong suit of the Halo franchise is the musical score, and like all the Halo games in the past, ODST features Martin O'Donell and Michael Salvatori returning as the audio directors. As you have probably guessed, the music is outstanding! From the cinematic cut-scenes to the in-game action, the arrangements accent everything perfectly showcasing their immense talent. The soundtrack for the game has also been released which features 2 hours of this great music.
Halo 3: ODST is an excellent add-on campaign for Halo 3, and one that all Halo fans should own. All the classic Halo action is still intact even though Bungie switched up the lead character(s) to make them more vulnerable and human than the Spartan super-soldiers. The single player campaign has some great moments that are worth playing through even if you’re not into the whole HUB idea, like me. The only questionable part of this package is the price which is a little high, if you already own Halo 3. The addition of the Halo 3 Multiplayer component is cool if you don’t own Halo 3, but common, how many people purchasing ODST won’t have the game it’s built off? Adding a second disc feels like justification of sorts when the asking price is $69.99 CND, and not the true worth of ODST alone. Pricing aside, Halo 3: ODST is a great game which can eat up hours and hours of your time given its co-op multiplayer support and brilliance that is the Firefight mode! Until the Chief returns, well have to press on, as the one they call “The Rookie”.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 08.19.09
- Halo’s patented smooth gameplay
- Firefight mode rocks!
- New campaign is interesting and fun
- ODST does a good job building atmosphere
- Lots of co-op options
- Full Halo 3 multiplayer component is included
- If you have Halo 3, you won’t need half this game
- No new enemies
- Only two new weapons
- Not a fan of the HUB concept in shooters, or the new HUD
- Playing a ODST isn't as cool as a Spartan
Similar Games: Halo Wars (9.0) | Halo 3 (9.5) | Halo: Reach (9.8) | Halo 4 (9.8) | Halo 2 (10)