Rating

B+

Specific Ratings

GameplayB+
GraphicsB
Learning CurveB-
Replay ValueB-
SoundA+

Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Music, amazing if you like Marty O'Donell (BUNGIE)
  • On harder settings, strategy appears since U=WEAK
  • Open roaming in the city, with 7 set pieces
  • Vehicle level is simply fun
  • Meta-Challenges tie into Halo Universe
  • Play as something other then Spartan
Cons
  • Story - fragmented and disjointed
  • Having to hide as Brutes/Guardians easy kill you
  • Doesn't feel connected to rest of Halo's directly
  • When you really need a Spartan, there are none

Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360)

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Summary

A Departure from the Series in most Respects, Most reminiscent of Halo: CE. You ARE NOT A BADASS.

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Description

Halo ODST is a huge departure from what Halo evolved into with Halo 2/3. By Halo 3, you were the premier Spartan who destroys everything in sight while your NPC allies were essentially cannon fodder that Grunts could kill. In ODST, you get to experience BEING the cannon fodder. ODST is much more tactical and strategic like Halo 1, where you were not invincible.

First off, you are not a great badass on any difficulty level beyond normal. In fact, expect to hide in buildings, and look for natural choke points as Brutes WILL hunt you down and kill you after expending their cannon fodder to soak up your ammo, leaving you defenseless. It's a different tactical type of game especially when you run into Hunters. If you thought that Hunters were tough in regular Halo, they are a whole different animal in ODST. Expect to replay the Hunter scenarios multiple times, since they CAN kill you with their charge, and you have to HUNT for weapons that allow you to take them down. Furthermore, after you finally kill one of those armored thugs, the remaining one will go berserk and continually charge at you making it real hard to take out. Throughout ODST, ammo conservation and use is a major factor, as well as the reappearance of health stations. Expect to hunt for more health stations all over the game.

Story wise, ODST is very fragmented. After a drop gone wrong, you awaken with little ammo in a deserted bombed out city. Most of the game is a series of concentric circles, where another circle of access opens after completing a team mate's portion of the story. To start these action packed scripted sequences, you have to find certain highlighted objects in the open world. An example is a bent sniper rifle hanging from a telephone pole, or an ODST helmet stuck into a plasma TV. Since you will be experiencing most of the open world in ODST vision, these objects will be a vibrant piercing yellow unlike anything else in the vision mode. You will be in this vision mode as ODST takes place mostly at night and to see, you will need the ODST visor that comes pre-equipped on your helmet. The story sequences of the other squad mates offer a refreshing change of pace from the over-world. Besides the main story of your squad there is a story told through animated cut scenes and artwork that is an over arching background story of the evacuation of New Mombassa and some important Halo World information. It's along the lines of the back story of Assassins Creed, where unlocking it is challenging, but not necessary to complete the game (Does not apply to AC: Brotherhood as game not out yet). Unlocking certain number of these sequences opens badly needed supply caches around the open-world. These supply caches can be lots of fun with Rocket Launchers, Mongooses, and Sniper Rifles.

Graphically, it's a slight upgrade from Halo 3, but if you are looking for graphical glory look elsewhere. The environment uses a monotonous art palette so as to convey a certain atmosphere, which is only enlivened when using the helmet visor, which turns the game world into a odd Tron look-alike with bright neon lines and geometric shapes. The story sequences shine as its daylight and most of the environments are scripted, so the color palette is open and designers make good use of it.

The soundtrack is where ODST truly shines however. It's beautifully composed with a moody feeling to it that fits the city and dreary rainy environments. There are some particularly good saxophone pieces represented. If anyone has seen the opening of Pixar's Little Red Unicycle short, then you understand the vibe that Marty O'Donnell has created here. It truly helps make ODST shine as a game when working through the open world environment.

The only large letdown is how both the back-story AND the ending both feel like letdowns. The ODST ending doesn't feel like it truly fits into Halo 3 story, and since Halo ODST was made after Halo 3, there's no way to truly shoehorn it into Halo 3 storyline. It is kind of like how Lucas Arts fit Shadow of the Empire into the main Star Wars storyline. Important events seem to happen, yet are never really mentioned in the main storyline and both stories are crafted after the main storylines. The animated story seems to somehow peter out at the end, and the last audio log to find is stupidly difficult to get as it depends on AI behavior that somehow you are instinctively supposed to know isn't right rather then usual cannon fodder or running away routines. After all that effort there seems like there should be a larger payoff.

Multiplayer is a roughly the same as Halo 3. The entire second disc is devoted to simply multiplayer and all the maps associated with it. The largest and most important addition to multiplayer is the Firefight mode. In Firefight you get assaulted by different waves of enemies, as you and up to 4 friends do everything possible to survive. If you all die and are out of respawns, its game over. It's a highly addicting mode but it is limited to the friends on your play list and is not included in the Halo matchmaking. This is something being addressed in the upcoming Halo: Reach.

All in all, ODST is a great fun Halo experience; just don't expect the grand reach of storytelling from the Halo's 1-3 and importance in events.

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