Review by PickHut
"Tastes like... milk."
If you own Halo 3, and want to get Halo 3: ODST just for the multiplayer, then I highly advise you to pass; the multiplayer in this release is literally the multiplayer from Halo 3, with the only legit difference being the inclusion of three new maps. That's it. Your stats, achievements, appearance, and every other setting you made will carry over to the new disc. So, really, all the weight is on the new Campaign and Firefight modes.
Now, what I liked so much about Halo 3's Campaign is how balanced it felt compared to Halo and Halo 2's Campaign. While they were still fun, the previous two were plagued with issues, especially regarding repeated structures and flow. Halo 3's Campaign fixed a lot of these issues, and while there were still some problems, it was the best experience of the three. I was hoping that ODST was going to be more like that experience. As long as the game delivered the same type of balance and epic, fun battles, I would've been set.
What I ended up getting, however, was a combination of how all three Halo titles played. Of course, with a mash like that, there were bound to be problems, the biggest one being how the game flowed. This is because the developers gave ODST a hub world, taking place in the dark, battle-torn city of New Mombasa, for players to wander around in. Basically, what they have you do is, as the rookie of the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, travel to specific locations in the city while meeting minimal resistance from the Covenant, who you can either easily defeat or sneak past. The only real challenge you'll get are Jackal snipers placed on rooftops, who can kill you in two shots if you're playing on a difficulty higher than Normal. Other than that, it's only a matter of jogging by structures that repeat every two inches, until you reach your destinations, so you can start actual missions that place you into the role of other Orbital Drop Shock Troopers.
It's a flow similar to the one presented in Halo 2, the difference, though, is that it was executed better in that game. With ODST, the pacing is stretched out, because, instead of just going into the next mission, the game forces you back to the hub world, and makes you jog to your next mission. Thankfully, after completion of the game, you get the usual mission select option, so you won't have to suffer through the hub world... much. Unfortunately, some of the achievements take place there, requiring you to play through the entire game more than once in order for some of them to take effect. If you love gaining achievements, this is going to be painful.
On a more positive note, the actual missions are fun to play through. While some are a bit on the short side, and the overall feeling isn't as grand or epic as previous Campaigns, for what it is (a side-story), ODST is actually pretty damn good at times. During one segment, you'll do nothing but shoot down Banshees and Phantoms that are swarming over your location. Your weapons? Rocket Launchers, Spartan Lasers, and Missile Pods. And remember the short, flying section in Halo 3? You basically get an entire mission like that. Besides those moments, this is the typical Halo title that fans will know and love, on a smaller scale: soldiers will die every five seconds, Grunts charge with two stickies, tank continues to beat everything, and jet pack Brutes taunt aplenty.
As for Firefight, while it's a new feature to Halo, it's a rather ancient form of gameplay. You've played this plenty of times in other titles, where you're placed in a closed area, and you fight wave after wave of enemies, until you lose all your lives. It appears to be the "It" thing to include recently in "big" action titles, so it comes as no surprise that it finally made its way into a Halo game. That's not to say that this is a bad thing, because I found myself playing it for hours sometimes. The activation of certain handicaps at the start of each round (oh, the horror of tougher enemies throwing grenades nonstop...), plus the limited amount of ammo you're given, makes survival a tough goal to achieve in the long run.
The biggest annoyance about this mode, however, is that it doesn't have matchmaking. It would have been awesome to play a co-op session anytime you want, but that's apparently a pipe dream for Bungie. Instead, you're put into the irritating position of waiting for your friends to sign on to play a co-op game, or go into multiplayer and ask people if they want to join a session (I've seen this happen). I'm sure there's probably a statement from the developers somewhere, explaining why it wasn't included, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing.
Ultimately, I'm sure this is what you're wondering: is ODST worth getting at its original retail price? No. It really feels cheap to tack on the exact same multiplayer to this release, especially since it has only three new maps. And while the Campaign and Firefight modes are entertaining, they're not $60 entertaining. I'd suggest picking up Halo 3: ODST once you see it at a lower price, and even then, you should still know what you're getting: a short side-story.
A side-story that actually takes place after the Metropolis mission in Halo 2...
So the game's title makes no sense, really.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 10/05/09
Game Release: Halo 3: ODST (US, 09/22/09)
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