Review by FulcanRyst
"Dropping Into the Storm"
Humanity is at war with the Covenant. What else is new? Plasma weapons, flying purple shapes, ape-like titans in armor with hammers that make everything they smack go flying? Commonplace in New Mombasa, the setting for Halo 3: ODST. ODST stands for Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, a soldier for the UNSC who launches from a space ship straight down to the surface, "jumping into hell," the ODSTs say, earning them the nick-name "Helljumpers."
From the title screen, you can notice that there's something wrong with this Halo game. Where's the matchmaking? Custom Games? Neither? That's right; no competitive multiplayer, no Slayer, no CTF, as an ODST at least. The game comes with the Halo 3: Complete Multiplayer Experience disc, which contains every downloadable map for no additional cost, as well as three new "Mythic" maps. I haven't actually played the yet, so I can't tell you anything about them. What replaces the competitive multiplayer is Firefight mode, a heavily advertised knock-off of Survival Mode, a common aspect of games lately. The mode begins with the Tough-Luck Skull on, which makes enemies slightly harder, apparently (I didn't notice a change, but I must be pro. [/sarcasm]). The format of gameplay is in a series of five fights to a round, three rounds to a set. Each round you complete in a set adds another secondary skull to the fight, making the game gradually harder, and each set you complete adds a primary skull, eventually bringing the heat in near-impossible odds against your adversary. The maps are all taken directly from the story mode, and contain a small number of additional weapon drops (aside from the ODST's traditional silenced SMG and scoped Magnum), as well as health packs for the players to use in case of emergency. You begin with a certain number of extra lives, which are increased after every round is complete. Scoring is just like Halo 3 Multiplayer; double, triple kills, headshot counts, vehicle and grenade kills, the whole shebang.
As far as gameplay is concerned, ODST is almost identical to Halo 3. I couldn't notice a difference in speed between the ODSTs and Master Chief, and jumping height is hardly changed, if at all. The only thing the Chief can do that ODSTs can't is double-wield weapons. No plasma-pistol and SMG combos, Dual fans. You'll have to hit Y instead. The ODSTs also can't make use of sub-items, like bubble-shields, grav-lifts, and power drains. Unique to the ODST arsenal, however, is the VISR. It's a clever abbreviation for something overly complicated, but in a nutshell it's your best friend in Halo 3: ODST. Hitting X to turn it on will create a colour-based border around everything you see. Terrain edges will be yellow, open doors and unused weapons will be blue, friendly objects green, and enemies, of course, red. This will be a necessity in the night levels of ODST, when all you can see is the illuminated corners of buildings and trees.
Which brings me to the story mode of Halo 3: ODST. I'll begin with this: I loved the story in ODST, and in addition to the story itself, the gameplay and music that accompanied it. The main part of the game is in the shoes of an ODST known only as "The Rookie." A silent, strong type, he wakes late from his crashed pod, interrupted mid-drop by a Covenant ship. He works his way through the abandoned night streets of New Mombasa, looking for clues as to what happened to his squad-mates. Gunnery Sergeant Buck, Demolitions-Expert Dutch, Smart-Ass Romeo, and Funny-Guy Mickey, not to mention the harsh, stone-cold woman, Captain Dare. When you arrive at the clue, you experience a short scene of the Rookie examining it, then you shoot to a scene of one of the other squad members within the past 24 hours, and continue through a level in their eyes. They're pretty stereotypical of Halo: one mission has you driving through a place on a Warthog, another places a sniper in your hands and tells you to pick off your enemies, while another will give you a tank and an escort mission. Pretty basic, yes, but still fun. The story is interesting as well, explaining what happened to New Mombasa as the Chief does what he does in other parts of the galaxy. The only annoying part is the over-the-top cheesy love connection between Buck and Dare, with great lines such as:
Romeo: "Did she ever tell you what she was doing?"
Buck: "No... She never did..."
Dare: "I lost something. Now I need to go back and get her."
Cheesy as hell, and unnecessary. That's my only complaint.
All in all, the game's a hit or miss. If you liked Halo 3, you'll like ODST. If you didn't, it'd probably be smart to stay away from this one. It's worth buying if you're a fan like myself, but if you're into shooters, consider buying or renting it. It's worth playing, for sure. The story is great, the gameplay is perfect, and the graphics are phenomenal. It's exactly what you could expect from Bungie.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/16/09
Game Release: Halo 3: ODST (US, 09/22/09)
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