This review was originally published on GoGamingGiant.com in 2009.
The fourth title in the Halo series comes to us in the form of Bungie’s latest game Halo 3:ODST. Instead throwing a sequel at us with this installment the Bungie team decided to throw us a prequel. In this entry you play as the Rookie, an ODST who is separated from his squad during a drop into New Mombasa. An assault cruiser suddenly makes a space jump in the city, causing the whole metro to be destroyed. This is where ODST begins.
The game takes place in New Mombasa and plays unlike any of the other Halo games. In ODST you do not advance from mission to mission, instead you have the choice to roam around the city at night. When you are roaming around you will come across items such as a helmet or a broken drone camera. When you walk up to these items and select them you will be put into a flashback scene where you will be playing from the perspective of an ODST in the squad that you were separated from earlier. Aside from finding flashback items you can find Covenant enemies and many secrets hidden around the city. The change up in gameplay is different from the linear feeling we get with Halo 3. It may even rattle some players but overall I think it’s a much smoother style of progression.
One of the secrets in ODST are the hidden audio logs which are actually part of an ARG(Alternate Reality Game). Within them you follow a person named Saddie. As you listen to the tapes you get to learn her story and what happened to her. You won’t find any spoilers here but be warned that it does require a certain level of investment to hear Saddie’s full story. By finding these audio logs though, you unlock Superintendent supply depots that you can use to restock on ammo and even get a mongoose. This is a feature that most players may want to ignore but for collector types and those interested in the story aspects of the game will find this meta-game a worthwhile investment.
The Superintendent is the main focus of the story in ODST as the entire thing revolves around him. If you do not already know the Superintendent is the AI who is programmed to run the city. He runs everything from Security Cameras, to pay phones and even the city’s garbage trucks. You will become very familiar with him throughout the game.
The main story of ODST comes packed with about 6-8 hours of excitement depending on how you play it. It comes with much more when you are searching the city to find hidden audio logs, and when you kick back and relax and kill some Covenant. It’s best not to rush through this game or you won’t enjoy it. Just take your time, wander, discover things, etc. This is half the fun. There are also a few different endings depending on which difficulty you play on and depending on if you wait after the credits
Playing co-op is perhaps one of the best features in the game. Whether you are just roaming around the city finding secret audio logs or killing enemies, it’s one of the best co-op experiences I have had in a long time. It’s fun, exciting and a great take on the series.
ODST also contains a number of brand new features. First off you must realize that you are not Master Chief and you can not do everything he can. You do not have a motion tracker or energy shields but you do have Stamina and your VISR, which kind of makes up for the missing motion tracker and shield.
Stamina is similar to your energy shields in past Halo games. With stamina once you receive damage you lose your stamina and you are able to take damage. Your health does not regenerate, instead you must find heath stations located throughout missions or throughout the city in order to regenerate health.
Another feature that I mentioned was the VISR (pronounced “visor”). The VISR is a brand new feature that I think makes up for the loss of the motion tracker. It’s a night vision mode as it allows you to clearly see things that you wouldn’t normally see at night. This also works during the day missions but not quite as well. Using this feature you can find items that allow you to access flashback scenes, find audio logs and more. You can also see your enemies highlighted in a red outline and allies in green while random items are in orange. This is a very useful feature when playing as the Rookie in the darkness of night. It makes combat seem a lot easier than it normally would be and I think most players will find themselves using it very often.
ODST also contains two brand new weapons that are both silenced. The SMG and the Auto Mag are the new weapons and both of them come equipped with scopes. The SMG should be used on enemies that have full shields or are tougher than you are, while the Auto Mag, being a pistol, should be used on weaker enemies where they are one shot kills to the head no matter what difficulty you are playing on. I honestly would say keep the pistol by your side at all times, and try to keep it loaded. You definitely need that when you’re low on ammo and your enemies are very weak. The two new weapons aren’t terribly innovative or unique but they feel good and work well.
The biggest thing in Halo 3: ODST is the new game mode called Firefight and honestly this is the best thing since Survival mode in Left 4 Dead. Firefight is the new game mode where you and up to 3 other friends get attacked by waves of covenant soldiers. The variation in the gameplay is what makes this mode so awesome. Sometimes the first wave is only grunts and brutes but other times the first wave may be full of hunters and drones, it’s never the same.
This may sound easy but there is the factor of skulls which are difficulty modifiers for the game mode. For example: Catch makes the enemies throw grenades more than shoot. These skulls are activated based on what round you are in. Although the skulls are not random, it keeps the combat consistent so you have a chance at advancing further. There are obvious connections with Left 4 Dead here but imitating an already proven game mode is fine by me.
The game comes with two discs and on the second disc is the whole Halo 3 multiplayer experience. You get all 24 of the Halo 3 Maps and you also get 3 more maps that were not released on the Xbox Live Marketplace. The new maps are Citadel, Heretic, and Longshore.
Citadel is a brand new map based off of a part of the mission “The Covenant”. It is a symmetrical map that will most likely be a competitive map for Capture the flag and Assault.
Heretic is a map that everyone has been asking for since the launch of Halo 3. Heretic is Midship from Halo 2 and it is the exact same map except it was given a brand new paint job. The only other change is that the floating bridge in the middle does not move. It is now a solid object.
Longshore is a brand new big team map. The map looks like it will be a lot of fun when playing 8 on 8 matches. It has a switch that activates a bridge to help players cross the map easier. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our tours of all the brand new maps!
The only other new thing with Halo 3: ODST is the ability to unlock the fabled recon armor for use in Halo 3. To unlock this armor previously you had to have been chosen by Bungie but now users will be able to unlock the armor by obtaining four Vidmaster Achievements in Halo 3 and three in ODST. These achievements won’t be easy to obtain but you can get your own set of recon armor so it is worth the pain.
The sound and graphics in ODST are amazing. The soundtrack makes you feel like you are actually in the game. The music gets sad when you are all alone and it picks up when you get into combat. The new silenced guns sound like they should but a tad bit on the loud side. The graphics in ODST are as amazing the soundtrack. They have that sense of realism while keeping it futuristic. When activating the VISR you can see more details in the graphics which generates a whole new level of appreciation.
The last amazing feature of ODST is the stat integration on Bungie.net. You get to see every little bit of detail of your stats. You can see every medal and every kill you have ever received. You can also compare your stats to your friends or to others around the world. You will not be disappointed with what Bungie has to offer us this time around.
I would say that Halo 3: ODST is the best game in the Halo series. It takes Halo 3’s engine and mixes it with some Halo 2 elements making it extremely fun and I would say it has the best co-op as well. In Halo 3 co-op was just straightforward while in ODST you are able to roam around the city. The other good thing is the second disc with Halo 3’s multiplayer on it and the ability to earn the recon armor.
Halo 3: ODST had a lot riding on it as a lot of people didn’t think that ODST take would work in the context of the whole series. I’m happy to say though that Bungie nailed it. They created an engaging, fun and superb installment to the already great Halo franchise. It’s a no-brainer for all Halo fans. Even if you’re not a fan you should still check the game out. It’s an awesome shooter and would be enjoyed by everyone.
- Great Storyline
- Co-Op is great
- Brand New Main Character
- Firefight is Amazing
- Ability to earn Recon Armor is great.
- No ODST Multiplayer Mode
- Random Fact:
- Halo 1 fans will be pleased to use the new pistol.