Review by Darkmagic3

"Step aside Master Chief the troopers are dropping in"

Just a quick note: This review is written from a person who did not have any of the extra Halo 3 multiplayer maps. As you will see later on that becomes a big factor in how the game should be rated. I would guess that someone who already had them would give it a lower grade. Read on and I will explain more.

Story 9/10
Unless you have been living under a rock you probably are well aware that ODST puts you in control not of Master Chief, but of well an ODST. If you do not know ODST stands for Orbital Drop Shock Trooper which are basically the best soldiers in the UNSC army. The game picks up towards the start of Halo 2 where the Prophet's ship makes a slip space jump out of New Mombasa and takes Master Chief along for the ride. Your character, the Rookie, and his squad are dropping into the city to join the battle when the blast from the ship destroys the city and sends you flying straight into a skyscraper. The Rookie awakes several hours later to find that everyone is gone. The rest of the story is presented in a unique and very interesting way. You will explore the city searching for various scraps left behind by your squad in an attempt to piece together what has happened to them. For example you may find the helmet of one of your fellow soldiers. You will then take control of that soldier who owned the helmet and play through an experience he had earlier in the day. The story is almost better then that of Halo 3 and I enjoyed being able to play with characters who have real personality, unlike Master Chief, making it much easier to get attached to them.

Graphics 9/10
Not much I can say here. If you played Halo 3 they are basically the same just a little better. The weapons have had some more detail added to them, which is a very nice touch. You will have a new night vision mode that adds a cool look to the environment.

Gameplay 7/10
The game plays just like any other Halo game which basically means it is very fun. So why would I give it a 7 instead of an 8 or 9? You can say I just suck or whatever you want, but this game gets VERY hard. Because you are just a regular soldier you do not have any recharging shield. I have no problem with a little extra challenge, but you lose health at a rapid speed and it will never come back until you find a health pack. The health packs can be difficult to track down and once you begin to lose health fighting back gets very difficult. The fact that your vision of the battle is almost entirely clouded by red when you are hit does not help either. You will be forced to stay in makeshift cover peeking out to fire a couple bullets whenever you think you can pull it off. Your enemies are mostly just brutes which take a lot of damage. Also if you have not heard the elites make no appearance in the game at all so do not be surprised.

Audio 10/10
The musical score is great as always. It is impossible not enjoy the background music as you play. I really have nothing else to say this category really needs no explanation.

Multiplayer 10/10
This is the big factor that will make or break the game for most. ODST comes with a second disc that is just Halo 3 multiplayer. The good thing is that the disc comes with every single multiplayer map. For someone like me who had none of the extra ones this adds a lot more value to the game and is a great deal. For someone who already has them all, well ODST has now become a $60 expansion and if that upsets you I can understand. As for actual gameplay you already know what to expect. You have tons of game types and plenty of ranks to earn. Halo multiplayer is perfect that's all I need to say.

Firefight 7/10
I did not want to include this in the multiplayer section because they are basically two different things. The Halo 3 multiplayer disc is perfect, but firefight (which is a new mode for ODST) is not as good. I would score firefight a 9, but it has one major flaw that really hurts the experience. It does not have any matchmaking whatsoever. This means that if you want to play it with someone you better hope your friends have the game. Your other option,which I had to do, is to go on line and just search for people who want to play. Not being able to get on and quickly find team is very annoying. Now that I got that out of the way I am sure you are asking, well what is firefight. The concept is good and once you finally manage to get a team and start playing it is very fun. You will fight wave after wave of covenant hell bent on killing you all. The waves get bigger and deadlier as each round starts, but if that is not enough you will have to deal with skulls being randomly activated. In case you don't know, skulls add an insane amount of difficulty to the game, doing things such as forcing you to punch an enemy to regain health. If you ever manage to get a team it is a fun challenge.

Replayability High
The multiplayer will keep you hooked for months and maybe even years. With a seemingly endless experience system and tons of game modes your only reason to quit playing is if your subscription runs out. Also now that all of the vidmaster achievements are available you will not be able to resist going after them for your recon armor. Yes, if you get them all, you will get recon armor. Why is that a big deal? Are you kidding me? It was once a very rare gift that Bungie had to give to you personally. Any Halo fan would want it and now you finally have the chance. A particular one relating to firefight is very difficult and will add, at the very least, two hours to your experience right there.

Rent or Buy
It depends on if you have the Halo 3 multiplayer maps. If you do not have them or only have a small amount this game is a buy. It gives you no reason to keep Halo 3 around once you do buy it though. If you have most or all of them then just rent it. Beat the story, get your achievements, and then go back to Halo 3.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 10/20/09

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

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