Halo 3: ODST ReviewOctober 2, 2009
|Game Name:||Halo 3: ODST|
|Publisher(s):||Microsoft Games Studio|
|Genre(s):||First Person Shooter|
|ESRB Rating:||M for mature|
It’s time to fight and the United Nations Space Command wants you enlist as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper! So prepare to drop into New Mombasa and repel the covenant forces from Earth. So what does Halo 3: ODST have in store for you, come find out in this spoiler free review. Do you have what it takes to be an ODST?
The game starts out in a meeting room and you are greeted by an officer from the Office of Naval Intelligence, named Veronica. Your squad leader Buck seems to know Veronica and there is a clear past between them. You are given orders to drop into New Mombasa and help defeat the covenant forces before the city is destroyed. In one of the best introductions to a game you climb aboard a drop pod and are counted down like on a roller coaster, and you drop.
As expected something goes wrong when one of the covenant cruisers goes into a slipstream jump and the electromagnetic pulse hits your drop pod. You are taken off course and need to prepare yourself for a heavy impact. You wake up six hours later as the hard landing knocked you unconscious, the city is dark and you are all alone. Your drop pod is caught in a building and will have to jump down to the streets, and this is where you are introduced to your stamina and health system. Since the ODST’s are not super soldiers you will be more vulnerable to taking damage which adds a new dynamic to playing a Halo game, where you need to think strategically and go into cover. As an ODST you have a few things over the master chief to help you on your mission. You will have a silenced SMG, and a sound suppressed pistol. Along with the new weapons you also have an enhanced vision mode that will help you outline enemies, allies, weapons and special objects.
The campaign is divided up into sections where you play as the rookie and as you explore the city you will find clues that will lead you to flashbacks of your teammates, so you can experience what happened to them. To help guide you is the superintendent, an artificial intelligent computer that has control of the city of New Mombasa. He can help you and give you instructions by audio cues, and visual cues with signage in the city telling you which way to go. Around the city are different kiosks that you can link up with the superintendent and download data to your visor to get a map of the city. Alongside the main campaign there is a Meta story that you can access through audio logs which you collect around the city, with some good detective work you can find 30 audio logs that tells the story of a girl named Sadie. While unlocking the audio logs, you will unlock supply caches from the superintendent if you collect enough. In the supply caches you can find vehicles, new weapons, and ammo. You will be referring to the map quite frequently and setting way points while in the city because it is one big level that might get you lost easily, due the similar surroundings.
To help you if you do get lost press up or down on the d-pad and a small superintendent icon will appear with the correct direction that you need to go in. There are 8 missions that make up the campaign, but as you progress from one level to the next you are sent back to be the rookie and explore the streets of the city to fight your way to get to the next mission. You will play as each member of the squad and do certain tasks to complete each mission, like blow up a bridge, defend a building, or protect a newly found asset. You will encounter all the normal enemies from the Halo sandbox, but you will be introduced to a new class of enemy which is called the engineer.
The engineer is part of the covenant and can be described as a biological computer which has an ability to disassemble, repair, and access computer files to complete different tasks. The engineers will play a big role in the campaign and you will learn more about them as you complete the campaign. To prevent full spoilers of the game I will not be detailing the entire campaign and let people experience it for themselves. The campaign depending on multiple factors will range from 3 hours to 6 hour total.
Since the game is made on top of the Halo 3 engine the art team had more time to create more complex art. With the creation of the New Mombasa streets there is chaos and destruction that the city has gone through, which shows well with the art style.
The backdrop of the city ablaze really shows you what the covenant have done to Earth and what their plan is. There was time enough to even add the smallest of details in the city by adding signs and advertisements for different products. The art team at Bungie has some of the best concept art that usually ends up looking exactly what is shown in the game.
While there is some slight problems with the graphics being a little dated inside the engine, from character details not being smooth and fingers looking like square blocks. There is something to say that Bungie does right, and that is the fact that all the cut scenes in the game are all rendered directly from within the game’s engine, so there is nothing pre rendered.
With time and energy the graphics for the Halo universe should get better. Right now Halo ODST is showing just a small amount of age. I would like to see what the next Halo game looks like and to see what improvements can be pulled off in the engine to make the game look better.
Gameplay / Controls
Starting with the controls if you have played a Halo game before you will find yourself at home. The only new control to get used to as being an ODST you can’t deploy equipment with the X button, so that control will be reserved for the ability to turn on your VISR mode. The gameplay is basically what you would expect as it is a Halo game, again there is only a few things to get used to when playing as an ODST, your health doesn’t regenerate and you are more fragile to taking damage. Not much has changed to the formula for playing a Halo game, which is good; if it is not broken don’t mess with it. I did have some complaints about the gameplay. The amount of time you spend in the VISR mode really takes you out of the game as you can’t experience the amount of detail and hard work that was put into making the city of New Mombasa. Also I constantly found myself relying on using the pistol as my main weapon for all of the enemies, and not using anything else, either in the campaign or the firefight mode. So the complaints for people wanting the pistol to return have made ODST feel like it is the only weapon in the game that people will be using.
The audio for the game is done by Marty O’Donnell which is the audio lead for all the Bungie games over the years. The settings of making you as the rookie feel alone and abandoned in the city is really compelling. The slow beats and melodies give you a sense of loneliness, but when your encounters change the music goes right along with it, giving you powerful beats and a pressure to the situation that makes you want to complete your tasks. Even at parts you will find a jazz feel to the game with saxophone solos to add to the overall feel to the game. The audio for the Halo games has always been top notch and would recommend just listening to the music after you beat the game and see yourself in the city as you listen to the music.
The other parts that come with Halo: ODST are the firefight mode which is a 4 player competitive gametype that will face you against waves of covenant enemies at increasingly harder difficulties when different skulls are activated.
Some of the skulls will allow the enemy to throw very accurate grenades, double their health, or even when weapons are dropped you will be stuck with very low ammo. The firefight mode is probably what most players will be playing after beating the campaign, because the competitive nature of the gametype to see what score you can get and you can brag to your friends that you got a better score then they did on the 10 maps that you have to choose from. The firefight maps are based out of the campaign so you will see familiar locales.
While the campaign is short on the whole this is an expansion to the story and will give you a few hours of entertainment. The storyline has some falling outs where there seems to be a relationship between Buck and Veronica, where they hate each other in the beginning and then later kiss, with no other explanation to what has happened to them in the past, it honestly didn’t make any sense to me. I want to say that I felt no connection or desire to care about what happened to each of the characters; basically the characters were introduced and just given no real background information for them. I felt that the Meta story with Sadie was a better experience than the actual campaign when listening to the audio logs, and understanding the human response to what the covenant are doing on Earth. For what you get in the box of Halo: ODST the price should have not been $60, as the campaign is just an expansion and the firefight mode adds to the value. I want to say that the cost of the campaign and firefight by itself should be $30 and offered as a standalone disk. The other $30 dollars you are paying for is what is on the second disk that is included in Halo: ODST which is the full multiplayer experience for Halo 3 with 3 new maps, which if we go back the cost of 3 maps usually costs $10. So for dedicated Halo players, who probably bought all of the DLC from the original Halo 3 will be basically buying what they already own and paying extra for 3 maps. I would have liked to see the campaign and the firefight mode sold at retail for $30 and the 3 new maps as DLC to Halo 3.
- New campaign adds to the storyline
- 2 new weapons
- New approach to the Halo universe playing as an ODST
- Firefight mode is where most people will spend their time
- The achievements are well balanced for the casual and hardcore players
- Everyone can unlock recon armor if they complete the 7 vidmaster achievements spread across Halo 3 and ODST
- The music set an overall feeling for the player as they went through the campaign
- Meta story with Sadie added a connection to the human response to the covenant invasion
- 3 new maps for multiplayer
- Overuse of the pistol, felt like the only weapon I was using
- Overuse of the VISR took away from the details and art style, felt like the default view because you spent so much time in it as the rookie
- No ability to view the cut scenes after beating the game
- Storyline for the characters were weak, and felt no emotional connection
- No DLC planned for more firefight missions
- Pricing structure could have been handled better for more options for dedicated Halo fans
- No matchmaking for firefight
- The amount of pressure put on the superintendent to help you didn’t feel like he was helping as much as he could have been, by just following waypoints to the next objective
- The overuse of the campaign footage between press conferences, and vidocs made me feel like I was playing a commercial
- Time spent on the streets as the rookie was time padding for the campaign to seem longer
Final Score 4/5