Review by _KRoSS_
"A solid campaign mode that doesn't quite make up for the 60 dollar price tag."
Halo 3 ODST is a newly released expansion to the Halo series. ODST differs from its predecessors in the sense that players no longer control the Master Chief, but instead takes on the role of an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper). The game itself, although primarily featured for its single player campaign, also contains an additional multiplayer mode entitled Firefight. And lastly, every copy of ODST comes with an additional disk which includes every Halo 3 multiplayer map ever created. So let's dig a bit deeper and see how ODST stacks up against its older and bigger brothers.
ODST's single player campaign is for the most part, a nice gaming experience. The cinematic cut scenes are well thought out, and really aid in stressing the game's main theme of humanity. The cut scenes themselves are very noir like, and are reminiscent of old detective style movies. In campaign mode players switch between the game's main protagonist (aptly name The Rookie), and that of The Rookie's other ODST team members. The game unfolds in a Tarantino like fashion, and uses flashbacks to tell the game's story. As The Rookie, players will scour the city of New Mombasa in search of your lost squad members. As The Rookie, players are primarily outnumbered, and because of this, the game tries to encourage players to use stealth tactics as opposed to going Rambo. I use the word try very loosely here but more on that later when I get to gameplay.
Once a player reaches a certain area, the game switches to that of one of the other ODST members, giving valuable back story on that specific character's events following his or her's drop. The gameplay generally takes a switch here from stealthy, tactful gameplay, to a more run and gun style of play. Most of the combat takes place with other AI controlled teammates, and the levels for the most part (especially later on in the game), are quite enjoyable. Actually, I think it's safe to say that the levels when you aren't playing as The Rookie are some of the best in the game. With that being said, the game does a very nice job switching between the more emotional charged scenes as The Rookie, to more tense and action packed scenes as the other ODST members. As mentioned earlier, the cut scenes really seem to fuel the emotion felt when controlling The Rookie. Although The Rookie never actually speaks, players can still see and experience the despair and hopelessness that the character feels. But he isn't the only character here worth caring about, the rest of the ODST team are all fairly lively and interesting themselves.
Quite possibly one of the other things that makes ODST's campaign mode successful is the music score. The Halo series has always been known for its music, but ODST quite possibly takes the cake. The music has been perfectly balanced, thus allowing for a slow boil during tense action scenes, to jazzy interludes that reinforce the noir feeling. The music is without a doubt one of the strongest points of ODST, and without it, I don't think the campaign would be as strong as it is.
Moving on, I'd like to discuss the gameplay of campaign mode for a bit. In ODST, to reinforce the fact that humans aren't immortal creatures like Master Chief, Bungie has brought back health packs. ODSTs do have a small shield, but once their shield is depleted, they become hurt and players must then find a health pack or face being killed. As far as I am concerned, I am quite pleased that Bungie brought back health packs. It really seems to fit when playing as an ODST. Another addition to gameplay is the inclusion of two new weapons, a silenced SMG, as well as a silenced pistol. Both of these weapons have scopes on them, and both are quite powerful. However, to balance these guns out, Bungie put slight kick back on both guns when you zoom in, which makes them even in terms of usage. I'd love to see these weapons incorporated into Halo 3's multiplayer, but I doubt that will ever happen.
One serious gripe I had about ODST's gameplay was the supposed stealth element that was put into the game. Honestly, the stealth element is weak at best. Most enemies can still spot you when you are crouched in the dark, and even while hiding behind something. And as far as players supposedly not being able to go Rambo through the game, the truth is quite the opposite. Playing on Heroic mode, I had little trouble in dealing with enemies in the game. Rushing them almost always ended up in me walking away from the fight. That reminds me, another problem I had with ODST's campaign is the enemies. The Halo universe doesn't exactly have a wide cast of enemies, and ODST is even worse than previous games. If my memory serves me right, there are really only a total of about 4 or 5 different enemies that get quite boring to fight after about an hour in. Pathetic.
As far as campaign length is concerned, I personally got about 5 ½ 6 hours of game time playing through on Heroic. Now to some people maybe that's enough, but to me personally, another hour or two would have been a lot better.
Next I will briefly examine the multiplayer modes. First let me just say that co-op in this game sucks for the most part. It destroys whatever tension or emotion that's built up by playing through the campaign alone, and on top of that, it really just feels tagged on. Firefight on the other hand, is much more enjoyable. I won't discuss the mechanics of how Firefight works, but overall the mode has a nice feel to it, and seems to fit fairly well in the Halo universe. I did have some gripes with it however. The first of these gripes being the difficulty curve. The first level is almost absurdly easy, but by time you get to second level (not the second wave mind you) or so, it seems you are fighting with everything you have just to stay alive. I understand that the game has a varying difficulty, and that it can be changed manually, but I just happened to like the way Gears of War 2's Hoarde mode is set up. Firefight seems almost impossible without a full party, even on normal mode. And the fact that Bungie disabled match making for Firefight may make it very difficult for some to constantly have a full party. On top of that, they also failed to include four player split screen. All in all, Firefight is a cool new addition, I just personally feel it needs some work.
In closing, Halo 3 ODST has a very well done campaign mode that makes for one heck of a gaming experience that almost all gamers should try to not miss out on. However, the short length of the single player campaign, repetitive enemies, the terrible co-op mode, and impaired (albeit decent) Firefight mode make for a game that may not justify the 60 dollar price tag. My suggestion is to wait until it gets a price drop. Till then, ODST is at least worth a rental so one can experience the single player campaign.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 10/07/09
Game Release: Halo 3: ODST (US, 09/22/09)
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