Halo 3: ODST
Review by LiamMcluckie
"Prepare to drop..."
Halo 3: ODST is an expansion to Halo 3. You play as "the Rookie", and you have to search the dark streets of New Mombasa (formerly Kenya) to find and rejoin your missing teammates. Without further ado...
The storyline is pretty good, but even though I don't like to put the game down, it's nothing special. There are occasionally epic, entertaining and exciting moments but they're all too seldom amongst poor dialogue and pointless chatter. As I say, it's decent but I don't think it compares to the main trilogy, especially towards the end, which felt a little rushed.
If you've never heard of Halo before, then wow! Welcome to the father (or the uncle, or the cousin, whatever) of FPSes (first-person shooters). As you are no longer playing as Master Chief, you have to be slightly more careful when approaching enemies. You are now an ODST (orbital drop shock trooper) searching for your missing teammates through dark streets and narrow corridors, using anything you can to stop whatever is in your path. This includes vehicles, the VISR (think advanced night-vision) and even your enemies' weapons - ammo is noticeably scarcer in this game (compared to Halo 3), so you'll have to reserve ammo and more often than not pick up your dead foes weaponry to be used against them. One last thing I should mention is that you start each mission with a Silenced SMG (the SMG from Halo 3 but with a silencer) and a new Automag pistol, which is pretty cool. The red plasma rifle (from Halo 2) also makes a return but the option to dual wield weapons is gone completely.
ODST runs on the same graphics engine as Halo 3 (released in 2007), so it's nothing new or ground-breaking. It is, however, still bright and beautiful as ever. The cutscenes look brilliant (save for the characters faces, which look like they've been lifted from the first Halo) and the levels are really something to look at, whether you're riding your warthog outside in the sun or stealthily stalking brutes in the dark city of New Mombasa. The addition of the VISR is excellent too, as dark areas are instantly lit up when you equip it. It really is amazing to see for the first time. Don't try and use it when you're already in light though, as I did when I first played the game and thought my screen was broke (the whole screen supernovas with light, it's unreal).
The game has brilliant music, fast paced beats for when the action is really starting and slow tunes for when something massive is happening. The sound effects are pretty much the same as in Halo 3, which are pretty awesome. I love them and I certainly can't fault them for what they are. The grunts in particular are pretty funny to listen to now and again.
Once you've completed the campaign, you can go back and do it again on a higher difficulty (the range goes like this: Easy > Normal > Heroic > Legendary). You can also do it cooperatively either online or offline. You can go for a highscore in Firefight, or try to unlock some tough achievements like the vidmaster challenges, which unlock Recon armour. Then there's the complete multiplayer experience of Halo 3 to "pwn noobs" in. Edit maps in Forge or mess around with your friends in Custom Games. Or, if you want to leap back into the streets of New Mombasa again, there are 30 audio logs to search for throughout the city, each one a segment of another little story. Whatever you want to do, there's plenty of it to do! There's a LOT of replayability in this game and I can see myself playing this regularly for a long time.
The first disc comes with Firefight, which, although doesn't have a matchmaking option (pretty disappointed by that), is very fun! It's kind of like Gears of War 2's Horde mode, the premise is that you and up to 3 other friends take on waves on enemies together scoring points. There are skulls which have different effects (making enemies stronger, or making them throw more grenades for example) which are randomly turned on as you progress. You unlock characters and missions for Firefight as you complete the campaign on various difficulties, so there's some variation to it.
As for the second disc, it's the entire Halo 3 multiplayer experience. You get every single map for a total of 24 individual maps - the original eleven Halo 3 maps (Construct, Epitaph, Guardian, High Ground, Isolation, Last Resort, Narrows, Sandtrap, Snowbound, The Pit, Valhalla), the Heroic map pack (Foundry, Rat's Nest, Standoff), the Legendary map pack (Avalanche, Blackout, Ghost Town), the Cold Storage map, and the Mythic map pack (Assembly, Orbital, and Sandbox) as well as three new maps (Citadel, Heretic, Longshore). The disc also comes with forge, theater and Custom Games fully compatible with Halo 3 and other users playing either Halo 3 or this disc. I think the multiplayer is absolutely awesome, especially with friends. I just LOVE to teabag. I'd buy this disc separately, it's so good.
Overall, I think this game excellent value for money, even if you have Halo 3 with all the DLC maps like I did. The campaign is very enjoyable, if a little (a little!) on the short side, but with all the other things (achievements, Firefight, multiplayer) to keep you entertained, this is a definite yes from me. The lack of matchmaking for Firefight, poor face graphics (yes, seriously) and slightly noticeable campaign length stop this from being perfect, but otherwise, this is a bloody good game and I highly recommend it.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/28/09, Updated 12/18/09
Game Release: Halo 3: ODST (EU, 09/22/09)
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