Game Name:Halo 3: ODST
Platforms:Xbox 360
Publisher(s):Microsoft Games Studio
Developer(s):Bungie Studios
Genre(s):First Person Shooter
Release Date:9/22/09
ESRB Rating:M for Mature
Price:$49.49 (Amazon)

Halo 3: ODST from a casual gamer’s perspective.

Initial Difficulty: Legendary (Achievement hunting/subsequent walk through on Easy)
Completed: 10/2/09

Tall, dark, handsome, mute and asleep. This is how we first meet the Rookie.

ODST is the story of New Mombasa during and after the slipspace jump made by the Prophet of Regret. That’s right you are playing during the same timeline as Master Chief. No, there will be no run in with the chief because; well he’s a bit preoccupied somewhere else saving the universe.

The game itself starts off strong building on the myth of the ODST that has been built up in the Halo games and books. Remember these guys are the toughest of the tough, sort of a kind of Navy SEAL of the future. In other words the SPARTAN’s are the Corvettes, and these guys are the Camaro of the UNSC. Both of them powerful in their own right but they are just built a little different.

Gameplay/Achievements:
The game starts you off in a drop pod on a carrier ship. Ready to drop from orbit, you are an ORBITAL drop shock trooper after all and can’t just jump from outer space a la Master Chief and land without a scratch; this is where you will go through the prerequisite match the red dots of previous Halo games. From the start the mission goes awry and…black .

You awaken 6 hours later to find yourself cold and alone, well not completely there are the plenty of covenant patrols to keep you entertained. You also have the city A.I. the superintendant. These patrols will see you even if you are actively trying to avoid them. Especially in Legendary where the Jackals will spot you from about 2 blocks out if they have a direct view of you. You will notice during your initial walk through the team at Bungie put in some easy to get 5G cheevos. The first one you will get is the health pack one.

Health and Stamina – The first major thing you will notice if you are a fan of the series: no over shield. That’s right this is one of those minor differences between the Rook and the Chief. It almost reminds me of…Halo: Combat Evolved. That’s right; remember when Halo was this awesome one player game back on the XBOX? Well originally there was no rechargeable health so once your shields went down and your health started to fail the only way to regenerate was to go searching for health. This is where you will acquire your first cheevo.

VISR – a mode you WILL learn to love. This little setting will save your life, especially in Legendary. Legendary is notorious for having a famine on ammo and the brutes are especially unforgiving when you run out of ammo. VISR mode will allow you to see all available weapons on the ground they will be colored in blue. There are four total colors in VISR mode that you have to get accustomed to: Yellow, Blue, Green and Red. Yellow is mainly used to outline edges of buildings cars and other non useable objects. Blue as mentioned before is for ANY weapon on the ground. Green is allies and Red is used for Covenant troops. TIP: You’ll know when you have killed a covenant troop when the color of its weapon turns to blue. This is especially useful for Jackal Snipers.

The only draw back from using VISR (and since you will have it on most of the time) is that you will hardly ever get to see the beauty of a burning city. I HIGHLY recommend that during a lull in the game you just turn it off and look at the beautifully artistic game that has been delivered to the masses.

Another one of the small details you might miss is the way some covenant foes react. For instance anyone that has played Halo before will tell you that Hunters always appear in pairs. But what we have never seen is the emotion that they display. In ODST if you kill one Hunter you better be ready for a world of pain. It almost feels like Bungie took the idea of Berserkers from Gears of War and put that rage into the surviving Hunter. Oh, and if you plan on running away, well…let’s just say they are called Hunters for a reason.

Also the game seems a little dated as this is built on top of Halo 3. That’s not to say that they haven’t improved upon the product. One thing many people won’t notice is the shadow that the rookie casts. But if you look at the rookies hands they are a bit blocky still. Hopefully all of these minor artistic aspects will be hashed out for Halo: Reach which has its own engine being built.

Overall the game is an awesome addition to any casual gamers’ library of games. Just keep in mind that this game started off as an addition to Halo 3 not as a standalone installment. However, it was pretty well fleshed out and you will have a lot of fun getting to the bottom of the games mystery and will have a lot of fun trying to get all of the achievements that are available, especially if you have gotten the previous Vidmaster challenges and are on the cusp of getting Recon armor.

I did start making note of one thing and that is the way that the games in this series should be played:
1. Halo: Wars – the game takes place I believe 50 years before the chief is born.
2. Halo: Reach – (To be released in 2010) the story of the Military planet on which the SPARTAN’s came to be.
3. Halo: Combat Evolved – The chiefs initial assault on the Covenant
4. Halo 2 – Hello Brutes
5. Halo 3 – Play until the Slipstream rupture made by the Prophet of regret.
6. Halo 3: ODST – Play through and pop Halo 3 back in upon completion of epilogue.

I’m not going to list pros and cons of the game because a casual gamer will not really bother reading those as we will just try to enjoy the game.

For a more in depth review that includes pros & cons see: http://360junkies.com/2009/10/02/halo-3-odst-review/

As a casual gamer I give this game 4/5

As MDK pointed out in his review there should have been a special one disc set for all the hardcore players that have already bought all of the maps. And they should have probably knocked off at least $10-$15 for that edition.

Update: Halo 3: ODST has also recently been released for PC for cross-platform gamers.

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