Halo 3: ODST review

The expansion or sequel if you will – was originally named Halo 3: Recon. One confusing name change later, we have Halo 3: ODST with the price of a game expansion. This expansion quickly turned to a full fledged game with the price of $69.99. Is Halo 3: ODST really worth the 60 odd dollars, or should we save our money for the insane amount of video games this holiday?

Running parallel to Halo 2, you are an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper ready to land on a Covenant ship, but all goes wrong and you’re sent sailing off course along with your squad. You wake up hours later to find yourself in New Mombasa, a dead Covenant infested city all alone and no contact with your squad. You are the Rookie – as they call you – and you search around the city of Mombasa looking for clues to what had happened to your squad mates.

When playing ODST, you feel like a downgraded Spartan walking around the city with a silenced sub machine gun. Master Chief is the protagonist of the Halo series and is well known for his characteristics and Spartan status.  Compared to a Spartan you jump lower, die quicker and you can’t dual wield guns, which most people were accustomed to in the previous games. This time around you have no recharging shields, but you have something called stamina. Stamina works in some ways as a shield but when depleted; your health will begin to take damage and decrease. In order to heal yourself, you can find health stations or med kits which will bring you back to normal.  With the same engine as Halo 3, the gun play is similar – but you will find that deaths are a plenty and you will be utilizing cover more often, which is a different feel than the run and jump gameplay from previous Halo games.

The majority of the game you will be alone walking around the city, which is illuminated by the burning buildings and cars. The best parts of ODST are the ones where you are playing as the rookie and that feeling of helplessness and loneliness is what gives the game a fresh feel. There will be times where you are put in a tank, warthog or put into intense battles, very much like Halo 3. These levels seem like they were taken right out of Halo 3 and the only difference is that you’re an ODST.

The Halo games were generally linear and it is obvious that Bungie is trying to move away from that linear experience. With the open world you experience as the Rookie, it feels very pointless when you find yourself looking in deep corners to find nothing but a bunch of garbage bags. What is unique about an ODST is their HUD vision, which allows you to see clearer in the dark and it outlines hostiles and teammates. The graphics are a step up from Halo 3 and its soft colours are illuminated by the fires and street lights in the background. Visually, ODST doesn’t disappoint and the architecture of the city is fantastic. The best part of ODST is the amazing sound track which depicts the mood of every moment. From Jazz music to lonely tunes, ODST is soothing to the ears and really makes you feel like you are the only ODST alive.

The story is a lot easier to follow this time around, due to how simple and unique it is compared to Halo 3’s stretched out trilogy. To expand on the story, you can find up to 30 audio logs which is similar to BioShock and I must admit that Bungie did a good job of making them easy to hear and access.  The single player can take from 6-8 hours depending on the difficulty you will choose.

ODST comes with a second disc which includes the Halo 3 multiplayer, with all the downloadable maps and 3 new maps to satisfy all your Halo 3cravings. The majority of the Halo community already owns all the maps and it doesn’t feel right to pay for something you already own. If you do plan on playing Halo 3 for years to come, then this second disc might appeal to you.

The newest addition to the Halo universe is ODST Firefight. Essentially this like Gears of War 2’s – Horde mode or Call of Duty: World at War’s – Nazi Zombies. This new mode is great fun and you can spend a decent amount of time trying to get to the next wave. This mode is enjoyable but there are instances where it can get repetitive and quietly you will be hoping that the last person alive dies, so you can take a five minute break from the constant hours of playing. One option that Firefight lacks is the ability to find a game with 3 other people. If you don’t have any friends on Xbox Live, then I recommend you try and get some people to play with.

Halo 3: ODST is a great single player experience that all Xbox 360 owners should get their hands on, and experience for themselves. The single player is probably the best in the series and its great soundtrack really makes it something to remember.  Firefight is a great addition to the game, but it can loose its novelty pretty quickly. If you just can’t get enough of the Halo 3 multiplayer, then this game will prove its value. If you don’t own Halo 3 then this is a great opportunity to get involved in a huge franchise.