Review by Matty_G33

"All new campaign, same overhyped game!"

Anyone who has played Halo will know it was the game that saved the Xbox. Glad with their success, Bungie decided to make sequels to it, expecting similar results. After playing the three of them, they were, well, in my opinion, alright, but they never really clicked. When I heard about Halo ODST, and how the player is not in control of the iconic Master Chief, I thought there would be some good, new game mechanics that could improve the game. But instead, all what I got was the same game, just with, you guessed it - an all new campaign. And all the Halo 3 maps, of course.

Storyline - 7/10

The story in the game looks pretty straight foward. It's a parallel story that takes place in the middle of the events of Halo 2, centered on a squad of ODST's - Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, who are around or in the African megacity called New Mombosa. The player plays as 'The Rookie', the newbie in the crew who is similar to Gordon Freeman of Half-Life fame - a mute who only makes a sound when he's under fire. When everyone gets launched into the city via pods, the flight down goes all wrong and the rook gets knocked out for six hours. When he wakes up, he goes looking around the city, trying to find out what happened to the rest of squad by going through the city at night, killing Grunts and Brutes to get from Point A to Point B like how the Chief does it.

When the Rookie finds an object, he suddenly gets a flashback of what happened at what time, as a playable mission from someone else's eyes, who isn't a mute. How he suddenly gets a flashback from inspecting an object I don't know, but what the other members of the squad did in the past six hours fills up the time gap quite nicely. In general, the story is pretty much average, but the detail that bothers me the most is that when the Prophet of Regret jumped to somewhere in space, which was during the first third of Halo 2 and where this game starts, why are there already Brutes to replace the Elites, which didn't happen until the second third of said title?

Gameplay - 6/10

If you've played any Halo game, no suprises here I'm afraid. The only 'new' things is that when the rook travels through the city, it plays out like a hub instead of a linear level, which you will be playing when you find an object to inspect. Rather than having overshields, players have 'stamina' since they aren't Spartans. When stamina runs out, players take damage when they get hit, thus putting the health system from the first Halo back into action.The thing is though, when you are hit, there's a very annoying beeping sound as well as hearing your character making all of these breathing sounds when you're low or out of stamina, which basically is effective as the overshields in Easy/Normal, but is hardly anything in Heroic and Legendary. Also taken out is the equipment system, which was actually alright, but now only enemies are limited to using them, thus making the game harder.

The other things implemented in the game include VISR, which is activated by pressing X. Basically it's meant to be a flashlight of some kind, but in the dark (which it is always when in the hub) it just makes glowing lines around everything. Objects, allies, and enemies have their own coloured outlines to make everything easy to see. But in the light, it makes everything hard to see. Included is also a map and compass for wandering around in the city, which are handy.

But other than that, everything else is the SAME with just more allies and few new enemies. Same weapons (although the SMG is silenced with a scope), mostly the same enemies, same game with different characters. Still has the outdated system where the crosshairs pretty much define the accuracy of your weapon, which is the same whenever you are moving, jumping, or even crouching, very unlike the shooters of today where that would alter the accuracy at least significantly.

Graphics - 6/10

Playing the graphics card, Halo ODST has good graphics, but only in the day time. In the night, or dark, these are spoiled by the sheer fact that they are, well, dark, and you have to use VISR to see in the dark, where you will just see glowing outlines. Plus, the HUD icons are...tiny. I struggle to know how many grenades I'm holding since the number is small, and it just hurts my eyes, despite the fact I have a decent sized widescreen television screen. For the small HUD icons and the fact that two thirds of the time I have to use VISR, the graphics get a 6/10 for those two alone. Apart from that, everything else is alright.

Sound - 5/10

When playing anyone but the rook, I'm finally pleased to see that the player's character actually talks in the middle of combat and doesn't act like a mute. But the breathing sounds to indicate low stamina and the beeping sounds I mentioned before are just annoying. The gun sounds aren't very realistic at all as well. Infact, half of these sound like peashooters whereas in real life, an assault rifle is LOUD. Even the plasma weapons could have sounded better, as a weapon that fires plasma could have sounded more meatier than a sound a six year old could intimidate perfectly.

The music itself is fine, but that's it, nothing special. It's just fine, similar to Halo 2 and 3. You won't really mind it, you won't really hate it. Just think of vanillia ice cream.

Multiplayer - 4/10

ODST also comes with a mode called Firefight as it's only proper multiplayer option. This mode pits up to four people stuck in an area where the Covenant come in waves, and have a shared stock of lives. Skulls are activated at the start of rounds to make the game more harder for everyone else in different ways when they progress, such as making every enemy dodge grenades better and making stamina recover only when you melee them. Sadly though, there is not a matchmaker to find people to play with. You will need friends to join you and vice versa, and anyone who leaves a match of Firefight instantly ends it, so if someone has to go, it is ruined for everyone else.

There is the second CD, which comes with a copy of Halo 3 stripped of it's campaign, but comes with the full multiplayer with every single map made for it (so you don't have to download them), and your Gamertag's stats for Halo 3 as well as armour unlocks and looks will pass on to it so there's no problem there. Thing is though, Halo 3's multiplayer really needs you to be creative with it's high customization to make it fun, as the basic combat and all just feel too vanillia, so you really need to make some friends over matchmaker and invite them to custom games that aren't too ordinary. The main problem I have with both Firefight and the bonus multiplayer CD is that the online play has to be paid for in order to play, which I think it's not really worth paying for. Considering PS3's and most PC games have free online with just as effective features, this drops the motivation to play Halo online unless you're happy enough to pay for a gold subscription to play some other game.

Achievements - 3/10

If you're farming for achievements, this is not the game to do it in. Everything is either hard to obtain (200k points in Firefight, online or offline for seperate achievements for different maps to give you an idea) or gives too little. For those Halo 3 fans who are keen on getting the Recon armour though, there is the other half of the six Vidmaster Achivements that are needed to unlock it (the other three are in Halo 3).

Summary

I rate Halo 3: ODST a 6/10 simply because it's just the same game anyone with an Xbox has known about, but with a different campaign that will last you about 6-8 hours on Normal to get you from the first to the last mission. If you really like, or love Halo, then knock yourself out and get this. For those who like shooters in general - there are some better shooters; do not let the hype fool you.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 01/19/10

Game Release: Halo 3: ODST (AU, 09/22/09)


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