Review by KaiserS0ul
"A Great Game Hindered By A Heavy Price Tag"
Ah, Halo, what current day video-game conversation wouldn't be complete without someone mentioning an Overkill or a Quadrupole Ghost splatter. Halo has been one of the pioneers of the newest and most quickly growing video-game genre the First Person Shooter. I have played all five halo games: Halo Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo Wars, and Halo 3: ODST, so I have a bit of experience in the general field.
Let me start by saying that Halo 3: ODST (or Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) IS a great game, I'll get into the specifics of why it is a great game later but for now I just want to address what I, and many other people, think is the biggest issue with this game. The price tag. We all know that Fall of 2008 we we're promised a new campaign, with a new story, and a new "hero", and a new experience. Did we get all of that? Yes we did. However, Bungie had promised us it would be a rather large disc-expansion, not a full game with a $60 price tag slapped on the front. I know many a person who felt that having to shell out sixty bucks was too much for a simple "expansion" and I personally was one of them, I just turned in 4 games that I never played anymore not having to drop a penny on this title. In all honesty I believe that if Bungie had not pulled this fast one on us then it may have been much better. By the end of this review I will be giving the game it's appropriate price tag but again, it is only my opinion.
Graphics: Let's start with the only thing people seem to care about these days, the graphics. Halo 3: ODST was a nice step up from it's most recent predecessor, Halo 3 (I'm not counting Halo Wars since it is not an FPS), the most notable differences in the graphics quality was the human structure and the structure of some the general look of the environments you we're in whilst playing through the game. If you take a look back at Halo 3 you can see that most of the human faces had rather blank expressions for the most part, their head's sort of blockish and somewhat misshapen. ODST smoothed them up a bit and gave them a bit more personalty, including fear relief and general combat expressions. When in the cut-scenes, even from the beginning you can see a clear difference in the facial modeling of Romeo and Buck if nothing else, however even with this update in quality they still seem to be a little back in the times. The look of the New Mombasa is rather nice, smooth sleek steel towers all around you and they actually look dark and ominous as you stroll through the streets at night and they're cold steel shining in the sun during the day levels, where the dirt roads and grassy patches in some levels look a bit nicer and lifelike they only stay in the game for brief periods of time. The weapons are... well the same weapon models as from Halo 3, the only two new and notable weapon model additions would be the Auto-Mag pistol and the Silenced SMG. The two new weapons do seem to have a bit more of a smooth design to them making me believe that Bungie just used the same weapon models from halo 3 and copy-pasted them into ODST but I digress. The vehicles are just as they were as well, no real differences between the H3 and ODST. I'll say that the graphics of the game are good but rather outdated, Call of Duty 4 is still superior to them and it has been out since the beginning of Halo 3, Bungie has to place a little more time into this for Reach if they expect to keep up with what is becoming an industry standard.
Sound: This is one thing I can give Halo as a general game franchise, it knows how to please the ears. The sound quality in this is better than before being a bit smoother and the sounds seem to have been amplified for better hearing. The voice acting in the game is really good, each person/playable character has their own individual voice and personality that comes with it. Romeo is big-headed, Busk is cautious, Mickey is nervous, Dutch is 'ready-for-action', and Dare has the 'gentle power' thing going for her. May of the voices from Halo 3 have returned, The grunts sound like grunts, the brutes sound like brutes, so on and so forth. The Marines are just as the same as the enemies but they at least added new dialog to their range, you will recognize a few voices from H3 during the game but they will have something new to say. The sound effects are on par with the previous games again the same as before the sizzle of a Wraith mortar flying through the air and the explosion as it hits the ground, the click of a new ammo clip being locked into your trusty Assault Rifle, and the booming sound that escapes the barrel of your favorite Sniper Rifle (even if you're horrible with it) are in tact, just as before no real changes from Halo 3. The two Silenced weapons do give a few new sounds to the mix but only the same sound's you'd get from a pistol or an SMG, just placing a silencer to muffle the noise. The music, there are many new and old tracks in this game, and one old favorite of many that has a new twist on it. The most notable in my opinion are during any time that you are walking the destroyed streets of New Mombasa, there is a gloomy and yet hopeful tune playing as you slip through the shadows to your next objective, it lets you know the sorrow and danger, but also lets you know of the hope you have to make it out alive. The other track is the one we all know it is on the final level of both Halo 3 and ODST, 'The Escape' music as it is known as by now, it is the same track you heard in the race to the frigate in Halo 3, but.. it has a rock and roll twist on it, and incorporates different songs from the Halo universe into it, and when you pick up the "Special" Rocket Launchers (for those who know what I'm talking about I'm sure you'd agree) you get a real nice electric guitar riff to let you know just how B.A. you are going to be throughout the rest of the level. Really if you can take nothing else from this game you can at least admit it has a great sound to it... no pun intended.
Game Play: The most important part of every game, whether people recognize it or not, the game play. The game play in ODST is the same and at the same time different from it's predecessors. In the former Halo games you played through a level, kill nearly everything in sight, and then move on to the next level. This is not the case in ODST, you will be able to slip past enemies by sticking to the shadows and keeping your eye closely on said pursuers. you can also make it through at least one level by never killing a single enemy. This game mixes guerrilla tactics and going just straight Rambo and actually does it well. Also you don't just move through the story line in a linear fashion, instead between the first 7 levels of the game you are placed in the shoes of 'The Rookie' a silent faceless protagonist, as you walk through a sandbox-esque New Mombasa, you only continue the story when you go to the objective, and after each level you unlock more of the city to play around with, this is really different for the Halo franchise but it was a risk that was worth it, because ya know sometimes you just feel like being a ninja and just have fun, and now you can be a ninja and just have fun for as long as you please before continuing to 'make it out alive'. Another basic idea from the game has been scraped, everyone knows that Spartans have energy shields and self regenerating health (well from Halo 2 and on), this is not the case with an ODST, they are a bit...... squishier. You have a 'shield' of sorts, known as Stamina, you can tell your stamina is lowering much like you would know you're being shot at in Gears or Call of Duty, the outer section of your screen will get red, then when stamina is gone, you will start to lose health. Now your stamina will recharge when you stay away from being shot for a few seconds, but your health, well that's different. Much like the original Halo CE, you need to find med-kits to keep yourself alive, now these are not really difficult to find as they are placed on walls nearly everywhere. Something completely new for the entire FPS genre is the removal of the HUD (heads-up-display) and has been replaced by the VISR (which I don't know what that stands for). The VISR includes no radar which does disappoint me a bit because you have no idea as to if someone is sneaking up on you or not. However it does include 2 new features, one a compass at the top which I assume is there for co-op play to direct everyone in a certain direction, and night/heat vision. Pressing X allows you to see in the dark and also see the thermal signature of your enemies, who are outlined in red, and your allies, who are outlined in green, I can't being to describe how nice this feature is SIMPLY because of the ever annoying 'Invisa-Brutes' as I like to refer to them, Brutes who have cloaking devices in dark areas, making them near impossible to see. All of the gun mechanics and controller layout is the same with the exception of the VISR mode. Driving is again the same as usual, you turn your camera view, your vehicle goes that way. All the enemies from the former games have reprized their roles as the 'alien scum' trying to wipe out humanity, with the exception of the Elites who are not in the game as an enemy, only as a corpse, and at the same time, a new enemy is introduced, the Engineer, for those who have played Halo Wars this enemy is quite well known. The Engineers give overshields to any enemy forces in it's vicinity including itself and other Engineers making them a royal pain to kill with human weapons, there is only two sure-fire ways to one-hit-kill engineers, and those are either Assassinate it which is no easy task considering they love to fly just out of your melee's reach, or shoot it with a fully charged Plasma Pistol shot which is considerably easier, it took me quite awhile to figure that last one out. However very late in the Campaign, through events I will review later, you get an engineer buddy of your own.
Online Play: Now moving onto the Multiplayer/Co-op. ODST does not have an online Versus feature. That is a separate part of the section we will get into later. However it does have multiplayer. The 'Firefight' game section is essentially (from what I've been told) Horde mode from Gears of War, now I have never played Gears, so I have no idea how these two stack against each other, but I will say fire fight is fun.In Firefight you are given a set amount of lives and you have to survive as long as you can, racking up points all time you are alive by killing Covenant forces. Firefight is split up into 3 sections,: Waves, Rounds, and Sets. There are 5 waves per round, and 3 rounds per set, and sets will never end until you run out of lives. Each Round and Set has a skull that add difficulty and a higher points multiplier. Round 1 = Tough Luck, Round 2 = Catch, Round 3 = Black Eye, Set 1 = no skull, Set 2 = Tilt, Set 3 = Famine, and Set 4+ = Mythic, I won't tell you what those do look them up for yourselves. All these skulls stack on top of each other, and only the Round skulls turn off and on the others stay on permanently. Like Halo 3's multiplayer you get medals for sprees, special types of kills, and chain-linking kills together. There are 8 new medals, 2 for Hammer Sprees, 2 For Sticky Sprees, 1 for Assists, 1 for EMP kills, 1 for Needler Kills, and 1 for being the last one alive at the end of a wave when 2 or more people are playing. Doing it alone is cool and all, you take refuge and single-handedly wipe out masses of grunts, brutes, chieftains, jackals, hunters and drones, making you feel like the last every gun-toting solo hero ever combined, which is fun for a good while, then you add another 3 people. A good squad of 4 people can have a blast working together to hold off over thousands of enemies for hours on end. It's just entertaining and a blast all around. One huge complaint I had about Halo 3 that carries over into ODST is connection issues. Now I play with a few friends and our games end up lagging, whether it is in Halo 3 Matchmaking, ODST's Campaign, or even Firefight, the game lags and even kicks us out from time to time, making all our hard work worth nothing, but if I play with the exact same people in a game like Left 4 Dead, there are NO issues what so ever. I don't understand why this happens with Halo games only but there must be some real problems with the Bungie servers because it only happens to me, and them, when we play Halo, nothing else.
!!!WARNING THE NEXT SECTION OF THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS READ AT YOUR OWN DIGRESSION. I REPEAT SPOILERS IN THE NEXT SECTION!!!
Story: The story for Halo 3: ODST is quite the breathe of fresh air the series needed. You are no longer Master Chief/John 117, you are instead the the shoes of five different ODSTs, depending on what level of the game you are on. It's not so much a story of destroying the Covenant and saving humanity as it is a story of survival in nearly insurmountable odds where real courage is tested. You are sent in originally to clean up the city of New Mombasa. Or so you believed. What goes on is you walk through the streets of New Mombasa as the Rookie, finding remnants of what has gone on since the ODSTs have dropped in, so in other words the first six levels are pure flashbacks. Starting by finding Dare's Helmet you work through New Mombasa as Buck trying to get to Dare's position only to find he is no longer there, here you encounter your first Engineer, which Romeo quickly takes out. Romeo and Buck team up and that's the end of part one. Placed back into current time, you are the Rookie again and you find a Drone Fighter Optic Camera. With this you are now playing as my favorite character Dutch, making it through the outskirts of New Mombasa attempting to find the Colonel that is trapped at the other side of a large Covenant outpost, you make your way through killing baddies to find no Colonel and Dutch is stuck in the middle of the city. Back as Rookie you then go back to your drop area and find a Gauss Turret. You are pushed into the body of Mickey making his way through the city streets of New Mombasa in a tank, going to the rally point and saving some marines on the way, then you go to save Dutch who is fighting off a good number of Covenant by himself, you save Dutch and then together hold off an offense on the rally point. Again you become the Rookie and you start to get the idea of general struggle for life in New Mombasa and how difficult the last few hours have been for everyone. Anyway, you then make your way to find the exploded bridge and pick up a detonator. Here you are again as Dutch setting up explosives to stop Covenant from taking over the Office of Naval Intelligence (or ONI) building, then when you can't stop them you get ready to blow the building all together after fighting off a small army of Covenant and flying away on a Pelican, that's exactly what you do, one of the on board officers ask if you know a Buck, you are then taken to rendezvous with Buck and Romeo. Playing again as the Rookie you look around the city and find a Sniper Rifle that has been just flat out destroyed, hanging from an electrical wire, which you use a piece of debris to get down and I started to snicker as the Rookie tried to bend back the rifle and failed... anyway. Now playing as Romeo, you and Buck are trying to meet up with Dutch and Mickey who are waiting on the other side of a series of high airport terminals (or that's what I think they are). When you find them the only way to them is over a very wobbly support beam (I personally found this a very nice touch making it a bit suspenseful) When you finally are all back together (minus Dare & Rookie) you are set up against drop ship after drop ship of Covenant forces. This is my favorite part in the game simply for all the enemies you get to blow up... so pretty... anyway, after enough ships have come and gone one drops a Chieftain who immediately screws over your entire team, even hitting Romeo with a direct blast from a Gravity Hammer bending his Sniper, which the Brute picks up and tosses off the side, before turning the hammer around and stabbing Romeo in the chest with it. Dutch, Mickey, and Buck then ambush the Brute and kill him. Once again as the Rookie, you find the last of the remnants of the last six hours, a bio-foam canister. The canister was used to heal Romeo and you a playing again as Buck, you effectively then take over a Covenant Phantom drop ship and a ghost, you then make your way through the city and find an escape route, whilst opening many large doors and killing many engineers. When you finally get out Buck boards the Phantom and realizes where Dare is hiding and tells Mickey (who pilots the Phantom) to turn around and go back into the city. Again as the Rookie you get a distress signal from Dare and go to meet her. You make your way through the underground tunnels meeting one Marine (or maybe a police officer, I don't know) who tags along for a little bit before you find Dare hold up just above the city's giant AI computer. With her you make your way through the underground tunnels infested with drones and into the super computer. When you get inside you find a friendly Engineer who has taken all data from Virgil the city's AI and stored it in himself. An alarm goes off and you see a screen of Buck looking for Dare, Dare talks to him, they establish a rally point. You then escort and protect Virgil (as the engineer is now called) and find Buck. You all make your way to an elevator bringing you top-side and to the last level. In the last level you leave the city and get onto the Highway. Virgil then hijacks an Elephant and Dare goes in with him, you (the Rookie) and Buck are tasked with protecting Virgil down this highway until the Elephant gets blasted by a Scarab and then the four of you hold yourselves up in an ONI building and fight off Covenant until Romeo, Dutch and Mickey arrive. When they arrive you all board the Phantom just as the Covenant is about to 'glass' the planet (more or less destroy it) and fly away safely. Romeo gets a little medical attention, Buck and Dare slightly join together romantically and the credits roll. After the credits you see Dare escorting Sergeant Johnson to meet Virgil, who he gets along with quite nicely, and tells Virgil that he's going to help him stop the Brutes. Virgil light's Johnson's Cigar, and the screen goes black. If you beat it on Legendary, you then see the Prophet of Truth surrounded by engineers finding what seems to be the Citadel you find him in near the end of Halo 3. That's it, now mind you the way I told it does not give the story justice at all but it is in my opinion better then 2's and 3's story by far, only Halo CE beat's this one out.
!!!END OF SPOILERS YOU NO LONGER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT SEEING THE STORYLINE YOU CAN NOT CONTINUE WITHOUT ANY REAL WORRY HAVE FUN!!!
2nd Disc: This was a curve-ball for me, I wasn't exactly expecting this. There is a 2nd Disc that comes with ODST, what's on it you ask? Bonus footage? No. Extra Info? No. Oh so it must be a Mini Walkthrough. No. It is the Multiplayer of Halo 3... yup it is essentially giving you Halo 3, minus campaign mode. Now here is where most would say the heavy price tag for ODST comes from. The Multiplayer disc includes Custom Games, Forge, Theater, and Matchmaking, and uses all the same file formats as Halo 3 did, meaning you can still play your created maps, and custom games as you had before. Also this disc includes ALL maps even if you had never downloaded any, plus the 3 new maps Longshore, Heretic, and Citadel. Meaning if you had bought Halo 3 and payed thirty dollars for every map pack that came out, and then bought ODST, you sort of wasted that $30, and that $30 is where the most of the price tag on ODST comes from, that still doesn't justify it, it should be a freebie, something there for people who had bought Halo 3 once, not to have to buy it again. If nothing else they should of scrapped that 2nd Disc idea and made the only way to get the 3 new maps is to buy ODST and they give you a code to enter into the Xbox Live Market Place, this would of cut the price of ODST by at least twenty dollars, because let's be honest here, nearly everyone who bought ODST, either has or has had Halo 3. Now I won't review the Matchmaking because that is Halo 3 not ODST so go look elsewhere.
Achievements: What would an Xbox 360 game review be without achievements? The achievements in this game aren't bad at all they are all pretty good. They give the usual difficulty achievements, one's for beating levels, and basic stuff like that. The there are one's like Killing 10 Brutes with EMP kills, or getting 5 kills while in VISR mode, or 10 head-shots with the Auto-Mag pistol. These are what make the achievements fun, they keep things interesting by mixing difficult, fun, and entertaining achievements together to make the full 1k gamerscore points always seem within reach. Then there are the 200k point per Firefight level, these are good and bad. I mean levels like Crater, and Lost Platoon were easy to do because they we're straight up fun, I had a blast with me and my friends we kept laughing at suicide grunts and making fun of them, but when we played levels like Chasm Ten we felt frustrated by how cheap it was, if you stayed on the bottom floor the got you from above, if you stayed at the top they knocked you to the floor nearly killing you, but for the most part these we're pretty fun. Last but definitely not least, the Vidmaster achievements, aka the Recon achievements. Classic was interesting, going through a level of Campaign without throwing a grenade of shooting a bullet on Legendary was fun, although I've had personal experience with this as I went through the entire Halo 3 campaign using only the A, B, and Y buttons. Deja Vu was a double edged sword, I had a tun of fun with the "Special" Rocket Launchers, and playing through Coastal Highway like that, but to seriously give us the same thing as Annual was kinda stupid in my opinion. Finally Endure, me and 3 other guys got together and just flat out destroyed everything on Lost Platoon, I even turned on my Xbox 360's music play list for a little extra power to the situation it was so fun we didn't have any hard time at all as we slayed Covenant forces in swarms it was laughable. All in all to get the full 1k in ODST isn't too hard but it's enough of a challenge to keep you entertained the whole time through.
Special Mention: This is something I do whenever I review anything. I take my personal favorite piece of what I'm reviewing and put it on a pedestal. For Halo 3: ODST Special Mention goes to the Auto-Mag Pistol. Back in Halo Combat Evolved you had an awesome pistol, it had a scope, nice strong bullets and wasn't a waste of a weapon slot, but when Halo 2 came around the pistol became weak and not worth it's weight, and unfortunately Halo 3 followed Halo 2, I can only suppose they did this for online matchmaking so the Pistol wouldn't seem over powered. Well in ODST your trust head-shot machine is back with a vengeance. Not only has the pistol og a face lift in looks, resembling a current day Glock 9mm Side arm, but it also has a built in sound suppressor making you harder to find whilst being a ninja. Thanks to this little bad boy I have 2,819 head-shots, and it has given me 228,000 points of my total, it is just awesome. I have gone through many ODST service records, not once have I seen anything but the Auto-Mag at the top of the kills list. If you pick up this game do not toss the pistol it is your friend and you will love it.
Final Words: I personally love Halo 3: ODST and almost everything about it, really the only things that put me off are the price tag and buying all those maps for Halo 3. However since I bought this I have returned Halo 3 and gotten twenty dollars back from it, so I guess it wasn't all bad. Like I said I told you I would price ODST by itself without the Multiplayer disc, if it weren't for that disc I could see this game going for $30-$40 and that is it's worth to me, if you disagree, that's your opinion. I highly recommend this to anyone who has the funds for it, it is a great game, especially when you team up with friends, and just hours of entertainment.
Thanks for listening to my ramblings on Halo 3: ODST, have a nice day, and keep being awesome.
Copy write 10/9/09 Only to be used on GameFAQs and nowhere else.
Written By: KaiserS0ul
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/12/09
Game Release: Halo 3: ODST (US, 09/22/09)
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