Xbox 360 Review: Halo 3 ODST

How is life without Master Chief? Not too bad actually…

When I first heard about ODST (or Recon as it was first known) I was on the fence. I was sure Bungie wouldn’t screw it up, but without Master Chief I was worried at how the game would turn out…remember the outcry of those who hated playing as the Arbiter in Halo 2? I expected a similar reaction, but actually ODST stands on its own feet and surpasses any expectations that I had.
The campaign follows a group of ODST’s (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers if you don’t know) as they land in New Mombasa. You begin to play as The Rookie and hunt down clues which send you to flashback missions from the perspective of each ODST after they landed at New Mombasa. The city acts as a hub to each of the 8 missions and after the game is complete, you are free to explore it and hunt it down for audio logs and destroying certain enemies for achievements. The campaign is surprisingly good and gives a new perspective of the war against the Covenant. I was hooked and even though it’s quite short at a few hours, it has quite a bit of replay value.

ODST’s don’t handle like Spartans however. They are faster, but weaker…they can’t do long jumps, if they fall a long distance they will lose stamina and are susceptible to damage which can only be fixed with a health kit. ODST’s also have night vision or VISR which highlights areas of interest; enemies in red; allies in green and even gives an outline of an enemy that is cloaked to avoid any surprises. It takes some getting used to that you aren’t MC anymore, but I thoroughly enjoyed playing as the ODST’s.
There are some new weapons as well like the Micro SMG and the automag pistol which is perfect for headshots. Also, the plasma pistol now is more powerful and disables an enemy’s shield which is perfect against tough brutes, it can also disable vehicles but it works for the enemy too. I personally like the new weapons and wish they would be added to Halo 3 multiplayer…oh well; maybe they will be in Reach.

ODST also comes with the great Firefight mode. Firefight is a co-op mode for upto 4 players in which you take on wave after wave of Covenant on different maps and each round gets increasingly difficult as skulls activate which can make enemies throw tons of grenades, bounce bullets off their shields and the worst which is having to melee an enemy to get your stamina back. The team is given 7 lives to share and you get more at the end of each set of enemies, there’s also a bonus round for more lives where tons of grenade-wielding grunts and you must get a certain score to earn the extra lives. Firefight is not easy and reaching the 200k target for each map will take some time, I found that it took about an hour for each map.
The game also comes with another disc that contains Halo 3 multiplayer, but all of the available DLC as well as the much awaited second half of the Mythic maps so now everyone can finally earn 1750/1750 gamerscore.

In terms of visuals, ODST looks a lot better than Halo 3 but it uses the exact same engine…now that’s impressive. It does run at just below 720p, but I honestly didn’t notice or care as it looked great on my TV and that’s all I care about. Voice-acting is well done and sometimes comical with quick one-liners (especially during Firefight) and the music manages to do a decent job in matching the atmosphere of the levels. Overall it’s very nice to look at listen to.

The Verdict

Bungie have done wonders in the 18 months it has taken to create ODST. The campaign is enticing and fun to play, while Firefight adds a new dimension to the gameplay and is great to play. Some might quibble about paying full price for what is essentially an expansion, but I personally think its value for money and don’t forget, the game gives you access to the Reach beta which is essentially priceless. On the whole, this is a great game for Halo fans who needless to say, should (if they haven’t already) pick the game up and kick some more Covenant arse.


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