Review: Halo 3 ODST
With Halo 3 two years old and Halo: Reach not coming until late next year, Bungie decided to release something for the fans to keep them occupied in the meantime. Halo 3: ODST is their way to tell a story leading up to the events in Halo 3, will this be enough to tide the fans over? ODST's story is about how your team of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers is penned with the important mission of figuring out why the Covenant is invading New Mombasa. While dropping in, your team is ambushed and your squad is separated. Once you land, you try to find out where the rest of your team is located by finding clues as to what happened at their crash sites.
Gameplay and controls are basically Halo 3 but with toned down combat for the most part. There are some areas where you can actually run through without killing anyone. Not sure how that makes people fell but for me it made me feel like the game was paced a little too slow. Not having the Spartan armor is a big factor since you cannot take that many hits. You have stamina which the game treats like a shield but doesn't last long. The screen goes red when stamina is gone and if you do not let it recharge, you will lose health pretty fast which you can only recover with health packs. It makes for a more tactical game versus running in the middle of enemies and wrecking house. The new weapons that you get to use are the Sub Machine gun and the pistol from the first Halo. The pistol is an epic sniping tool in this game for most of the enemies and my favorite weapon to use.
The story was a little vague and empty feeling with the build up to the end not paying off at all. I think Bungie failed on making the story feel more like a part of the Halo universe when it feels more like a Syfy movie of the month. I was surprised that some of the actors in Firefly such as Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion who they also used his likeness in the game. The dialogue could have also been better. It seemed either too edited or not fully fleshed out.
Where the game seems to shine is the 4 player co-op mode. I played through on Legendary difficulty with my friend eRock and it felt like playing it solo would be near impossible to complete. There was also a "glitch" with the spawning system that one can use to get past really hard parts of the game which is expected since it was in Halo 3 as well. Not sure why most games incorporate vehicle levels but why do they have to be the most asinine part of the game? The vehicle level felt so broken and made for a hour and a half of cursing and high blood pressure for my friend and I. Also, another "glitch" with the game that I ran into was when someone dropped from our co-op game mid-level, we did not get the achievement for beating the level. With that happening, we beat the last level 3 times without getting those achievements as well until we found out that the one level we played with another friend didn't show as complete.
The main reason to play ODST to me is Firefight mode. Yes it's very similar to Horde mode in Gears of War 2 but it really feels about equal in terms of how much fun it is. Some of the maps are INSANELY HUGE and makes for some crazy fights. Everything from the Halo universe is in Firefight and they give you vehicles to use in some of the maps as well. You fight through rounds with 5 waves to complete before moving to the next round. at the end of every round, you go into a bonus wave where you are given 60 seconds to kill as much as you can and get to the point value set to gain a bonus. You don't respawn if you die during the bonus round so it makes it very challenging to get the bonus. I can see Firefight being the main thing people play for a long time to come and I hope Bungie releases more maps to play as well.
Bungie's next to last iteration in the Halo universe, ODST, is something that I think people that are not big fans of Halo games can get into. Although the game does feel more like an expansion pack than a full game, which makes sense since it was originally going to be as such before Bungie decided to make it a full game. ODST does come with the full multiplayer stand alone disc for Halo 3 with all the map packs so that does add a value to the whole package. Even with the faults, it's still worth a play just for the Firefight mode alone.