Review by sonofkorol
"Prepare to drop into the best Halo game to date"
The hype around Halo 3: ODST is intense. The live-action TV ads and the internet trailers had most Halo fans frothing at the mouth. Featuring a brand new hero, a brand new story, and the all new survival co-op mode, firefight, this game had a lot to live up to.
So did it do what it promised? This review will go through all the things that make a great game, one-by-one, so that hopefully by the end you will have a good idea about what this game is all about.
This game fills in a huge gap in the Halo timeline, that which lies between the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3. At the end of Halo 2, the Covenant open a slipspace portal over the African city of New Mombasa, ripping it to shreds like a nuclear blast.
After the dust clears, the Brutes start landing in the city to pretty much loot and pillage anything they can find. Thinking the fight was still on, the UNSC drops in their most elite fighters, the ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers). Their pods scream down and crash land off course.
Your goal is simple. Find out what happened to your squad, reunite with them, and get the heck out of the city before the Covenant glass it.
You play not only as the Rookie who is trying to find his squad, but as each member of the squad. Basically, you play as another member of the squad, do something in the game that happened before the Rookie got out of his pod, then you play as the Rookie and find a clue that gives him an idea of what the members of his team did.
You'd think these "flashback" missions would be chunky and just all-in-all not work well, but I love them. It's seamless, fills in all the gaps in the story, and makes it just an amazing story to play through.
The fluid controls known to all Halo veterans is back with a vengeance, with the addition of the super-useful VISR mode (defaulted to the X button), which makes your HUD have night vision, highlight enemies as red and allies as green, and highlight vehicles you can use, health packs, and weapons.
You can throw grenades much farther than in Halo 3, and human weapons FINALLY have kickback, so if you mash the trigger, your gun starts to pop up and you have to aim to compensate. You can still jack vehicles, plasma pistol vehicles, assassinate enemies (including the dreaded Brute Chieftains!), drive vehicles, and all around tear the Covenant up.
The health system is tricky to get used to, since you don't have shields, but you have a new equivalent (stamina), and basically, when your screen flashes red, take cover!
The cutscenes and missions are so fluid and well done that you don't feel like ANYTHING is left out by the time you play the game.
Some people will tell you that the game is short, but as will be mentioned later, the replayability on this game is awesome.
Simply put, firefight is awesome. Sure the skulls and levels and stuff are the same, but the random waves make it so that every game you play is different. It's just a blast to play, especially with a full team of four. The same is true with campaign, having four person parties makes it a blast.
Also, technically, you get a second disk that has ALL of the Halo 3 maps and matchmaking games, with redone shading and graphics, quick load times, and all the fun and challenge that is Halo 3 matchmaking. So, while technically not part of Halo ODST, it is include.
But even if you don't include the Halo 3 matchmaking, firefight and campaign four player co-op is just awesome. Some people will tell you it's lame, but I think it's well done, challenging, and just all around fun.
Lots of people are going to complain that the campaign is too short. And realistically, it is. You can beat it in under four hours on normal if you have four-player co-op. But the true replay value comes in the fact that the difficulty levels get REALLY hard and will require planning and skill to beat them in any decent timeframe.
And if you find that not good enough, start turning on skulls when you play campaign. That should keep you busy for a while. Add into the mix firefight, which is, essentially, a differrent experience every time you play.
All in all, the challenging, entertaining, and involving story, coupled with the difficulty and randomness of firefight means that this game has amazing replayability. Not as good as Halo 3, due to the lack of true multiplayer, but still oh so fun.
This game is beautiful. Characters, buildings, weapons, vehicles, explosions, gunfire... Everything is crisp, highly detailed, and just stunningly shaded. It feels so real when you're strolling through apocalyptic New Mombasa.
Couple that with the VISR mode and just how much thought, detail, and effort went into making the VISR's enhanced view just done to perfection.
No bad shading, random graphics, or glitchy scenery, and even far-off stuff like Covenant cruisers going by just looks stunning. All in all, the graphics are what makes this game not just great, but really involving, believable, and enticing.
The sound effects in this game are perfect. Loud, clear, accurate, and just fitting to whatever they are for, from guns to vehicles to plasma blasts to the giant Covenant ships flying overhead, this game just sounds awesome.
My one beef is with the music. It isn't epic and dramatic like Halo 3, and takes a more sad, dark tone, to try and back up how alone the characters in the game are while they are trying to find the rest of their squad.
I guess the music sort of suits the game, but something about it seems awkward. However this is rectified by simply turning music off, but I wish I didn't want to.
The big, obvious extra is the second disc, containing the three new mythic maps, as well as all of the other maps, and basically just all of the matchmaking brilliance from Halo 3.
Also, all of the character models have been reshaded, and, if you look around in theatre mode, a lot of objects, scenery, and other things have been reshaded, and it makes the matchmaking look even better and more realistic. But mainly, the characters, as in the Spartans and Elites you play as, just look AWESOME!
I can with all honesty say that this is the most complete Halo game to date. Beautiful graphics, wonderful gameplay, an enticing and involving story, wicked cutscenes, no gaps in the story, sweet multiplayer... It's just all here.
If you're a fan of the Halo series, you need this game. It's a great addition to the other Halo games, and really makes you marvel that Bungie did such an amazing job when they only worked on it for around two years.
I would recommend all Halo fans, and most FPS fans pick this game up. This is really what FPS and the Halo series are all about.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 10/01/09
Game Release: Halo 3: ODST (US, 09/22/09)
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