Review: Halo 3: ODST

Bungie and Microsoft Game Studios fleshes out the Halo universe with the recent release of Halo 3: ODST.

ODST places the player in the shoes of a squad of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, elite soldiers who are sent in on critical missions.  Most of the game is played through the eyes of the Rookie, the newest member of the squad, while he attempts to relocate his scattered peers after an attack on the Earth city of New Mombasa.  Along the way the player will find out what happened to the other members of the squad in a series of playable flashbacks, all while learning the purpose of a mysterious new alien race.

The first major difference between this and a normal Halo game is how the main character is controlled.  The ODST members do not have a rechargeable shield like the Master Chief does, so keeping an eye on the character’s health is a must.  Also unlike the Chief, the ODST members do not have the ability to dual-wield weapons and ammo can become sparse when in an intense firefight.  However, these differences should not deter fans of the Master Chief: playing as the ODST is a fresh change for the series.  Another difference is the way parts of the story are played out: instead of a linear plot, the player learns what happened to the city through the flashbacks with the other ODST members and collectible conversations between a woman and her father that take place during the initial attack on the city.

That blue explosion is Oliver.  Wish granted.

That blue explosion is Oliver. Wish granted.

The atmosphere of the city is another great aspect to the game.  While playing as the Rookie, there are only a handful of Covenant forces left in the city, so it seems more like an exploration game than a first-person-shooter.  The music helps draw the player in even more, with a jazzier feel to it, with the previous games in the series having a more orchestrated feel to them.  These two aspects combine to create a Neo-Noir feel to the game that make the player feel he or she is playing a video game version of the movie Blade Runner.

The only negative part of the game is that there is only one new multi-player mode.  The new mode, called Firefight, allows the player to fight against wave after wave of increasingly difficult Covenant forces with up to three other players.  While this is an extremely fun addition to the game, the only other multi-player modes are just what was included in Halo 3.  In fact, the game ships with a separate disc with the previous game’s multi-player on it.  While there are some new maps to play on, this may not be enough to justify a purchase from those who play Halo specifically for the multi-player.

The new visor mode makes seeing the soon-to-be-dead Covenant SO much easier!

The new visor mode makes seeing the soon-to-be-dead Covenant SO much easier!

Overall, this is a great addition to the already excellent Halo universe.  The single-player is a fresh look on what was already a well-designed game series, and the atmosphere of New Mombasa makes it even more fun to play.  The multi-player, while lacking in new features, is still incredibly fun and great for those who did not buy Halo 3s extra maps, as they are all included on the disc.  This is a great game for those looking for a new FPS to play alone or with others.

7 comments on “Review: Halo 3: ODST”

  1. I really don’t think so. I’ve talked to a ton of people who don’t like the single-player of ODST whatsoever. I’ve always thought Halo’s multi-player was awesome though.

  2. That’s strange–the reviews I read basically said, “The single-player is excellent, but once you start playing with other people it part of what makes it so awesome.”

  3. The stuff I’ve heard about this game has been all over the map. I think just about the only consistent part has been the “don’t buy it just for the multiplayer if you’ve already got the maps,” but some people really like the single player, some people knock it for being too different, and some people say it’s just Halo 3.5 with inferior weapon balance. I haven’t gotten a chance to play it yet, but I imagine I’ll throughly enjoy it just like I have pretty much every other Halo game (although, I do agree with SN that the series is a tad overrated).

  4. Halo is definitely overrated, but at the same time many of the plaudits it has won have been well-deserved. Even given the successes of the Call of Duty and Battlefield series one is forced to conclude that Halo is, in many ways, the game that defined multiplayer FPS action on a console.

    That said, it is not by any means the best realisation of that idea. Hence the overrated gameplay.

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