Review by Syko_666
Short, sweet and overpriced.
Well seeing as Halo Reach has just been released and I will be getting it soon, I thought I would write a review on the controversial Halo 3: ODST. This was my introduction to the Halo series and while I enjoyed it, I also felt cheated because I was basically paying the full retail price for an expansion pack. What also had me raising my eyebrows was the text on the cover that said "New hero, new campaign, new multiplayer." While the first two are true, the third is a big fat lie. The multiplayer is the same as Halo 3 with only a few new features (and most of them were already released as DLC for the original Halo 3 anyway). That is just disingenuous and irresponsible marketing. But all these pet peeves aside, you're probably looking at the rating I gave this game and you're thinking "what? It seems like this guy hates it." No I don't hate Halo 3: ODST. While it's still overpriced it does it's job of giving you a good and unique experience, even if that experience is extremely short and leaves you wanting more. It also gives you all the DLC for Halo 3's multiplayer at no extra charge which is pretty cool.
While the campaign is ridiculously short, it's still fun. The gameplay is pretty typical of the first person shooter genre, but it's simplicity is what makes it accessible. The levels in Halo 3: ODST are competently designed, though the levels where you play as the Rookie can get bland and repetitive very quickly. While playing as the Rookie you have all of New Mombasa to explore and you have to find your squad-mates. Usually you will find discarded equipment in your search and it will trigger a flashback where you play as the squad-mate who dropped the item. These levels are really fun and provide some variety to a campaign that would have been bland without them. Outside of the main campaign, there is also a new mode called Firefight, which consists of the player(s) fighting off waves of enemies with each wave becoming more challenging. You can play this mode solo or with friends via online co-op. This mode is a pretty good addition and I'm glad to hear that it has returned in Halo Reach. While the game is definitely playable, there is quite simply nothing special about it. It's a fairly typical first person shooter and most of the cooler features from Halo 2 and 3 have been taken out, probably because the Rookie isn't a genetically enhanced super-soldier like Master Chief though I fail to see how one has to be superhuman to wield dual pistols but I digress. Though it does have it's flaws, it is not by any means unplayable.
The visuals in the Halo series have always been top-notch. Halo 3: ODST is no exception. The character models can look a bit lifeless at times but the environments look brilliant. You can see all sorts of things in the distance like wrecked ships, destroyed vehicles and all sorts of things. The opening sequence is a particular standout in this regard. The visuals truly immerse you in this world and it pays off.
The voice acting is nothing special. Though I have to admit the voices for the enemy NPCs sound extremely goofy. But the score is brilliant. It has a very jazzy noir flair that works surprisingly well with the setting. The sound effects are also pretty darn good.
The story is okay. It's not great but it's not bad either. The characterisation could be better. The Rookie is like most protagonists in this genre, he never speaks, we never see his real face etc. The squad on the other hand have personalities but we never get a chance to care about them. We only see the exterior, we never get a chance to know them. The story itself is also fairly simple. An ODST squad has been separated during an orbital drop into the city of New Mombasa, which is being besieged by the Covenant. The remainder of the game is about the Rookie finding his squad-mates with a few flashbacks. Again, it's not bad, but it's not captivating either. The story is competently told, it's main problem is it's pacing, we're dropped right into the action with very little time to get to know the characters well.
Normally, I would write a whole section for multiplayer here but it's pretty much the same as Halo 3.
Overall, Halo 3: ODST provides gamers with a short but sweet experience that doesn't justify the price. If you don't have Halo 3 already then I suggest that you buy it for the multiplayer and the free DLC. But if you already own the original, I would recommend that you either buy it second hand, rent it, or borrow it from a friend.
+ Accessible gameplay.
+ Fun mutiplayer.
+ Great visuals.
+ Excellent score.
+ Firefight is a welcome addition to the series.
- The amount of new content doesn't justify the full retail price.
- The cover fools you into thinking there is more new content than there actually is.
- Mediocre story.
- Gameplay can get repetitive in certain parts.
- The campaign is too short.
- The voice acting can vary from wooden to goofy.
- Very little sets it apart from other games of the genre.
Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Product Release: Halo 3: ODST (EU, 09/22/09)
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