The Lowdown: Halo 3: ODST is a must have depending on who you are. While its core elements have surely gotten better with age, it may not be a deal for everyone.
THE FACT SHEET
RELEASE DATE: September 22, 2009
PUBLISHERS: Microsoft Game Studios
ESRB RATING: “M” for Mature
GENRE: First Person Shooter
Developed exclusively for Xbox 360 by acclaimed developer Bungie, “Halo 3: Recon” is a stand-alone expansion that extends the award-winning “Halo 3” experience with hours of new campaign and multiplayer gameplay.* The release adds a new dimension to an all-encompassing universe that gamers around the world have known and loved for more than six years.
The new campaign chapter predates the events that unfold in “Halo 3” and gives players a new perspective through the eyes of a new hero in the “Halo” universe. New multiplayer maps ensure that the award-winning Xbox LIVE experience of “Halo 3” continues to thrive.
• All-new campaign content
• A new hero
• Expanded multiplayer collection
• Ever-growing community options
• Key to “Halo:Reach.”
So it would seem the boys at Bungie are going in once again. Their canvas of choice is the new Halo 3: ODST. In a world where Halo outsells the top grossing movies at its launch; the franchise needs no introduction. But ODST has got some explaining to do!
From the very first cut scene you’ll notice the obvious, there is no Master Chief. That’s right folks, welcome to 007 with no James Bond. How in the world does Bungie plan on pulling this off? It’s quite simple actually; they’ll do so effortlessly. The stage is set around an elite team of soldiers known as orbital drop shock troopers or ODST. Your new knight in shining armor is only a rookie on this ODST team. Make of it what you will, but your squad members seem to love to remind you of that. They’ll be referring to you as rookie every chance they get.
While on a routine drop, something goes horribly wrong. The squads are left flying out of control towards the war torn city of New Mombasa. 6 hours later, you wake up from a long unconscious nap to find both you and your pod suspended in the air. After setting up your controls, your new hero takes a leap of faith to escape the banged up pod. Then something strange happens. After landing from the fairly high fall, the control shakes, the screen goes red and your energy meter goes crazy. What?! Oops, I forgot. This is not master chief. This is guy is a human being. You’ll soon shake off that crazy notion and start exploring the ghostly city.
Bungie did a really great job at creating a sense of emptiness in the city. As you explore, you’ll find the music sets a really eerie mood. You can’t help but think “what happened here?” as you walk along. Very shortly after you’ve been sucked into curiosity, you’ll have your first confrontation with your old friends. And by old friends, I am referring to the covenant.
This is not a problem; this has never been a problem. Wrong. Here comes one of those strange moments again. My first run in with a brute was not a pleasant one. It was one of “Why isn’t this guy dying!?” Once again, you’re reminded, you are not Master Chief. You don’t move left and right as fast as him, you don’t melee as well as him and you damn sure don’t heal as well as he does.
In fact, after you’ve taken some damage, you need to find health packs littered throughout the city. Does that sound familiar? A La Halo: Combat Evolved? So let’s tally this up so far. No super jumps, no super speed, no super strength and no unlimited health. Sound a lot like the first Halo. It also sounds like you’ll be a lot more careful about how you approach battles.
With these new found realizations fresh in your head, you’re off to start your campaign. Your first obvious task is to find your fellow troopers. Given the size and scale of the city, this is no easy task. Perhaps the best part of ODST, the development of the story line is fresh and much welcomed. As you explore, you come across clues as to what happened to members of your team. For every clue you find, you get to relive and play out the scene of your fellow trooper. This is how you’ll piece together the story and figure out exactly what is going on. I won’t go too much into the story because it’s one of the more important gems of the game. It is really deserving of your attention. It is worth noting however, the campaign is short. You can run through it in just about 5 hours on the heroic difficulty. With that being said, it is still the most enjoyable Halo campaign yet.
Once you’ve completed your campaign, you’ll probably want to do it all over again. But this time, with some friends. You can either run through the campaign again, or you can set up shop for hours of lost time on the firefight mode. This mode will be familiar to fans of Gears of War. Endless waves of enemies come your way, and your only job is to see to it that you disperse of them and make it to the next level. Not enough can be said for this game mode. Not only is it over the top fun, but it can get very challenging and difficult at times. With a sweet story mode and some of the best co-op action I’ve ever seen, has Bungie lived up to the hype? Have they earned your $60?
Not so fast. I forgot to mention one more thing. Noticeably missing is a head to head multiplayer mode. Guess what, it’s not missing. It’s on the second disc. The second disc contains pretty much all of Halo 3’s multiplayer goodness. All map packs and game types included. They’ve even tossed in 3 totally new maps for the road. Well, how about now? Has Bungie earned your $60?
Let’s think about this. Halo is one of those strange cult type of deals. Either you love it or you don’t. If Halo 2 didn’t make you love Halo, then Halo 3 isn’t going to do it. And if Halo 3 didn’t do it, then how could Halo 3: ODST accomplish such a thing? So who is this game for?
Well, on one hand you’ve got the diehard halo fanatic. The short but sweet story mode, the co-op game types and the addition of all current multiplayer goodness from halo 3 will set a diehard on fire! Wait, what? What Halo diehard doesn’t already own all the current map packs? Hmmm, this makes the second disc less of a deal for the diehard out there. You already own that content, and the 3 maps could have easily been downloaded from marketplace. Not to mention, the campaign offers little that you have not already seen. The enemies are all the same familiar faces and you only get two new weapons to enjoy. Mr.\Ms. Diehard Halo fan, has Bungie earned your $60? Absolutely! You’re a diehard and no matter what Bungie does, you’re going to eat it up. Not only have they not fumbled in any area of the game, they’ve managed to make improvements with a game engine that’s clearly showing its age.
Then we’ve got the middle ground gamer. The gamer who always thought Halo was a cool game, but never felt for the Master Chief helmet edition and Bungie underwear. So you’ve got a noticeably shorter campaign than what you’re used to, some intense co-op action and arguably the best multiplayer FPS experience around today. Has Bungie earned your $60? Without a doubt! The campaign is the best in the series, the co-op offerings make for some really memorable moments and getting tea bagged and pwned by 13 year olds will surely provide a laugh for all. This could be your segue into the cult that is the Halo universe.
And for the gamer who couldn’t stand Halo? Who could never figure out what the hype was about? Sorry my friend, nothing here for you. Return to your Call of Duty and Gears of War. Act as if nothing happened.
Very little is wrong here, the game itself is solid. Graphics are as improved as one could hope for such an old engine. Game play is just as solid as the day you first played Halo 3. But nothing is perfect, right? Right! One of my two complaints is aimed at the co-op. There is no public match making here. You can only enjoy this mode with your friends. Although, I can see myself throwing the controller at the TV, because some random person I don’t know is not working as a team. That doesn’t give Bungie the right to ensure the safety of my TV. Public match making would have been nice.
The second complaint is the pricing model. ODST was originally supposed to be an expansion pack. And that it is, but it comes out on top as so much more. Which is fine, but what about the hardcore gamer? Why should the hardcore gamer feel like they’ve purchased something they already had before? It’s a tough choice to make if you’re Bungie. Do you sell ODST as just an expansion and remove the last disc? One could argue that would have been the way to go. After all, the three new multiplayer maps could have easily been available for download with no problems. But that would mean you take away from the overall package deal for the casual gamer. I understand Bungie’s choice to rule in favor of the middle ground gamer, but it’s still something to think about if you’re a hardcore Halo fan. But then again, if you’re a hardcore Halo fan, you wouldn’t care if this bundle ran you $80. I would have really loved to see this game available on demand via marketplace with a price tag of $40. That’s how you shock and awe the crowd.
Conclusion: Those two minor nags aside, Halo 3: ODST is worth your attention. A worthy add on to the franchise, and a great reassurance that Bungie has not lost their touch.
|- Campaign mode is as fresh as you could hope
- Graphics still hold their own
- Soundtrack in the game is great
- Co-Op modes are well done and addicting
- All Halo 3 multiplayer content on the second disc
|- Campaign mode is a little on the short side
- Not as great a deal if you already own all the multiplayer content from Halo 3
Single Player: 8/10 | Multi-Player: 10/10