Review by bbears
"Worst Halo Game"
Halo 3: ODST is a prequel to the blockbuster Halo 3. Unless you live underneath a rock you have probably have heard of that little game before. Halo has long been a franchise with great amounts of polish, cool level design, perfect pacing, great vehicle sections, and the most popular multiplayer short of the Call of Duty franchise. Unfortunately ODST fails at all of these things besides the multiplayer, but even that is just a copy and past of the exact same Halo 3 mulitplayer. While it also has a horde mode called firefight this game does not seem like it is worth the $60 price tag it is asking for. ODST hardly feels like it is made by Bunjie and the campaign is is by far the worst of the franchise and a simple horde mode is not going to make it worth the price of admission. This game has received a great amount of positive critical reception and mixed fan recognition. But I do believe that if this game did not Halo plastered on the cover no one would be talking about or buying this game.
Halo 3: ODST is the worst looking Halo game on the 360. Halo has always been well known for it's bright colors and smooth animations. ODST is a very dark game, a frustratingly dark game actually. Half the game is played at night where visibility is very poor unless you use the new vision mode. This vision mode looks a lot like detective vision from Batman Arkham Asylum. It gives the world a green noir tint and outlines important objects. This is a great departure for the franchise and seems lazy that they made the game so dark to cover up the monotonous environments and poor textures. The night sections play out in New Mombasa which is a very plain looking city that looks like it was modeled for the original Xbox. ODST still has some of the great outdoor and corridor sections the franchise is known for, and they look good. But the night city sections feel more lazy then any sort of creative new direction. With that said the music as always is top notch. The full orchestral treatment returns and does it's best to help capture the Halo feeling in this mediocre campaign. Cut scenes are pretty frequent in this game too in comparison to the other Halo games. ODST tries to portrays lots of emotions in these scenes but all characters look very wooden.
Halo 3: ODST has pretty much the same control setup as Halo 3. All Halo veterans will be very comfortable jumping right in. The controls are very responsive and everything well mapped, no complaints here.
The story and narrative are very important in this game, much more so than other Halo game because it tries to make a personal story. You are an elite Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST) dropping down to New Mombasa to push back the Covenant horde when shockingly, your pod crashes and you are stranded alone. You trek through the city alone trying link back up with your squad fighting off sparse groups of Covenant until you come upon a piece of junk that triggers a flashback of your friends fight. When these flashbacks happen you switch to their viewpoint and then fight through a mission from their perspective. The whole point being pushing forward until they you link back up with your squad. Not an original concept but a cool new idea for the Halo universe right? The problem is random drama is inserted for no reason including a rather odd and forced love plot point. The wooden cut scenes do not do these overly dramatic plot any justice either. By the end you will just be clicking through which I normally never do.
Halo 3: ODST is a first person shooter that emphasizes run and gun sequences and large set pieces. Mechanics wise not much has changed for the Halo franchise except for the vision mode which I already described and am not a fan of. Other minor changes are you can carry 4 grenades now and no plasma grenades. The weapon selection is slightly different but nothing completely new is introduced. One of the biggest changes to an existing weapon is the SMG. It now has a scope and silencer and is significantly stronger. One other big change is now there are health packs and your shield is replaced with stamina (same thing). Fall damage is also a much bigger danger threat and you overall feel weaker since you are not an Spartan this time just an elite ODST. And this is one of my first problems with the campaign, although your supposedly weaker the campaign on legendary feels easier. While you feel under equipped compared to other Halo games the enemies seem much weaker. On legendary my first try the game took only 6.5 hours and the only sequences I got hung up were vehicle sections. Halo is supposed to be known for it's high challenge and this is definitely a disappointment. The level design, especially the city, is by far the worst of the series. The city is broken into sections by nonsensical closed tunnels that keep you funneled into a particular section even though you are supposedly lost in a major city. And once you have seen one section in this city you have seen it all, yet the game keeps going back to this location. This also throws off the pacing, one of the most important parts of a shooter. You will at multiple different times go through 5 minute sections where you wander around and not interact with or see anything. That's not including if you get lost because you got disoriented in the identical looking city. All the frequent pauses with the cut scenes also hurt the pacing even more. Checkpoints are also funky and you won't always get a checkpoint where you supposed too.
While the ODST campaign is not worth while it also offers a horde mode called Firefight and Halo 3 multiplayer with all DLC maps and 3 new ones as well. So this means you get half-assed campaign, the same multiplayer you have already payed for, and a horde mode. Not very good value for a full priced game. However this game is a few years old now and can be had for cheap. But that also means you won't be interested in the old multiplayer and just wanting the campaign, which you should pass on. Firefight mode has good variety of maps and can hold up to 4 players but no Xbox Live support. You case you didn't know a horde mode is where you face increasingly harder and harder waves enemies trying to survive. If you like Halo combat it is an enjoyable mode but you would probably rather play multiplayer.
Overall Halo 3: ODST is a great disappointment for the franchise. If you payed full priced for this game and already had Halo 3 then you got ripped off. Now days the game can be had for cheap but there is little reason to pickup the outdated multiplayer and firefight maps. That leaves only the campaign which is unfortunately the worst part of the game making it not worth picking up.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 05/14/12
Game Release: Halo 3: ODST (US, 09/22/09)
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