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Game Review: Halo 3: ODST (XBOX360)

Platform: XBOX360 Published: Microsoft Games Studios Developed: Bungie Genre: First Person Shooter

SCORE: 9.0

The Good:

  • New mechanics make the game feel refreshing

  • Great flow in storyline

  • New Firefight mode is really fun

The Bad:

  • No new multiplayer slayer mode

  • Having low health becomes annoying with constant beeping

The Interesting:

  • Firefight is a new way that draws people to replay the game alone or with friends

  • The lack of a new multiplayer is interesting but giving all available map packs was a good substitute

Overall View:

With ODST Bungie fund a way to make another Halo game without feeling like a rehash of its previous game. The new subtle mechanics added and the way the storyline was presented to the player made this game a new unique experience in the Halo universe.

Developed by Bungie, Halo 3ODST is actually a prequel to the story of Halo 3. The universe of the Halo game takes place around the 26th century and focuses on the conflict between the UNSC (United Nations Space Command) and the alien race called the Covenant.

The game follows a character known as The Rookie, who alongside his fellow ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) squad members, have been given the order of defending New Mombasa from the Covenant. However during the drop to the city, a Covenant ship begins to shoot down the troopers as they made their way to New Mombasa. This separates the team from each other. When The Rookie comes to, it has been several hours since the drop and he finds himself dangling from a building. Not knowing what has happened, he proceeds to investigate the city in order to find clues of what had happened during the time he was unconscious.

This game follows an almost identical style of gameplay similar to Halo 3 and yet has some subtle differences that allow the player to experience the Halo universe in a new way. When I first heard that this game was not going to include the now iconic Master Chief, I wondered what they would have in his stead. When it was known that the game was going to focus on "regular" marines I thought of how the gameplay was going to change. Mainly because Master Chief is suppose to be a "Super" Marine equipped with the Spartan armor that allows him to be a match to the Covenant technology. This asked the question, how was the player going to be empowered if they have lost the use of Master Chief's abilities? Bungie found an answer.

The game is still a first person shooter that has many of the game mechanics of the previous game but with some noticeable differences. While many of the weapons from Halo 3 are still here, some came with modifications. The SMG previously found in Halo 3 now has a silencer and a scope; this makes this gun more desirable than its previous iteration since it was weaker than almost any other gun. The magnum from the original Halo makes a come back in this game with its scope as well. These guns might have been too powerful if the game still had dual wielding, the ability to shoot two guns at once. And the last noticeable difference is the lack of a shield like Master Chief has. Now instead, the player has a health bar and stamina. The stamina takes a few hits before taking health away, after a while it recovers. Health must be restored by health packs scattered in the levels.

I liked these new additions since they issue the difference between playing as Master Chief and a marine while keeping the game balanced. The levels in the game also let the player make use of the weapons in memorable ways. I found interesting the way the missions and the story are laid out. Since it was told from the perspective of The Rookie, the player plays as him as he finds clues of what happened. Every time he finds a new clue, it triggers a flash back which directs the player to play as another ODST that landed before. It is good way to keep the action going without stopping the player too much for the storyline.

A new addition to the series is a mode called Firefight. In this mode you can play alone or with friends in a level from the game as waves of enemies attack the players. The point of Firefight is to have the player survive as many waves as possible. This mode resembles Gears of War's Horde mode. This mode is particularly fun when played with other people since it requires cooperation between all players.

There are very few negative things I can point in this game. One of them is the lack of a new multiplayer mode, other than co-op. This game simply rehashes the multiplayer from Halo 3 with all downloadable maps. The other negative feature that became very apparent after awhile was the low health indicator. The indicator is your health bar turning red followed by a beeping sound. The lower your health gets the more beeps it makes. The beeping is very distracting and annoying.

The story is interesting enough to let you know what's happening but not enough to be very meaningful. I like the approach they took for the story which is something I think I learned from this game. Bungie is very good at making quality games so it is pretty hard to think of any significant changes I would do other than the beeping. I would definitely get rid of it and simply keep the flashing red bar. Overall Halo 3 ODST is a great addition to the Halo series and only makes me look forward to their next project.

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