Overview: System: Xbox 360 (Exclusive)
Genre: First-Person Shooter
In this edition of Everyview Doubleshot, newcomer John Rogers and longtime contributor Patrick O’brien give their very different opinions on Halo 3: ODST for the Xbox 360.
John Rogers’ Review:
After Halo 3 was released back in 2007, most people believed that the Halo franchise was finished. That, however, is not the case. Two years later, Bungie is back again with the newly released Halo 3: ODST, a new title focusing on the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODST) rather then the superhuman Master Chief. Is ODST worth the $60 dollar price tag, or does it fall short of being a full fledged title? See what I think about Halo 3: ODST in my review.
Halo 3: ODST opens up with a brief prologue, elaborating on the Human vs. Covenant war that every Halo title has centered around. If you have never played a Halo title before, it is a pretty simple idea, the Covenant (a group of alien races) seek to destroy all of humanity, and they’re doing a pretty good job at it thus far. The game begins as a squad of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, rough and tumble marines who drop into battle via launch pods, are preparing for an assault on a Covenant cruiser. You take the role of a trooper known as “The Rookie” who was recently transferred. The drop begins as planned, but as the troopers near the Covenant cruiser, it enters slip space. The resulting pulse hurls the pods in all different directions, and upon landing, or crashing rather, your character is knocked unconscious for 6 hours. Upon awakening you will begin searching the African city of New Mombasa for clues to discover what happened to your squad mates, while engaging in firefights with covenant forces.
You will quickly notice that ODST is much darker then previous titles, which can make seeing difficult. Navigation is made easier using the new VISR (Visual Intelligence System, Reconnaissance) which enhances vision, outlining objects and the like with different colors. Enemies are shown with a red outline, and allies with a green outline. This prevents confusion in darker areas, and makes the game feel different from previous Halo titles.
Aside from the new HUD, you have access to a few new weapons, one of which I was very glad to see. The magnum, a weapon from the original Halo, was everything you wanted in a firearm. Powerful, accurate, and easy to use. In ODST, the legendary magnum returns, this time with a silencer to help you whoop covenant rear, whilst remaining undetected. Aside from the magnum, you will receive a modified Submachine Gun, previously seen in Halo 2, and Halo 3, also with a silencer. These new weapons are a blast to use and help make the game feel less like a cheap add-on.
You will progress through the game’s campaign by exploring the now Covenant controlled city of New Mombasa. As you fight through the streets you will be guided to objects which will trigger flashbacks. During these flashbacks, you take control of different troopers from your squad, and see firsthand what happened to them after their drop. This is an interesting approach to a shooter, and serves it’s purpose as a central hub for the game. Traversing the city can be intense, as you will face off against Covenant patrols throughout the different areas. This hub system can also be a tad frustrating however, as some nav points can be hard to find, even with the assistance of the overhead map that you can access at any time.
Combat in ODST is just as exciting as ever, although it is obviously different from Halo 3’s. For starters, you are much more vulnerable to death, due to the fact that ODST troops lack the shields and superhuman abilities of the Master Chief. Instead of the shield system that the previous Halo titles had, you will need to watch your stamina, which lowers as you take fire. The screen turns red when you are damaged, becoming more severe as you take more hits. When you exhaust your stamina reserve, you will begin to lose health, shown in a health bar at the top of the HUD. Health can be replenished using health packs found throughout the game’s environment. You will quickly notice that battling enemies and surviving intense firefights will require a much more reserved approach, particularly on higher difficulty levels.
On the highest difficulty, Legendary, Halo 3: ODST should provide plenty of challenge for avid Halo fans, and on lower difficulties, should prove quite accessible to new players. The game’s campaign is a tad short however, and can be finished in about 6 hours if you know what you are doing. Bungie has added additional replay value with a new game mode called Firefight. This 4 player co-op game mode pits you against wave after wave of Covenant troops. You will have to hold out in one area, fighting varying forces of enemies until the round is over. Once the round ends you are resupplied and must prepare for another attack. The mode is made more interesting through the use of different enemy modifiers, which randomly change with each round. Firefight adds hours of gameplay to ODST, something that can be a major deal breaker for undecided customers.
It is also worth noting that ODST ships with a second disc, containing the entire Halo 3 multiplayer experience, including every map released through downloadable content (and three unreleased maps). This gives players a chance to experience Halo 3’s mutliplayer, if they haven’t already. Why Bungie did not simply include the entire game, however, is hard to say. Despite the content being somewhat dated, the addition of the second disc is a very nice touch.
Some might claim that ODST is just a cheap cash in on Microsoft’s part, but even if it is it certainly doesn’t feel like one. The production value is top notch, with great art design, an amazing music score, and updated graphics. ODST has a much grittier art style in comparison to Halo 3. Everything seems much less cartoonish and is much more dismal. This helps convey the seemingly hopeless situation humanity faces in the game. The music in ODST helps suck you into the world, with jazz-like cues during stealthy scenes, and epic war themes during large scale battles. The graphics are similar to Halo 3, with a few touch ups here and there and updated textures. Overall the game feels, looks, and sounds very nice.
All in all, Halo 3: ODST is a totally solid title that is an absolute blast to play. My biggest quibble with it is the high price tag. ODST definitely provides enough content for die hard Halo fans, but casual gamers might feel a bit put out by how little bang they get for their buck. If you want to try the game, I would recommend renting it first and seeing how you feel about it.
- Excellent HUD updates
- Original Halo Magnum returns
- Production value is top notch
- Firefight mode is an absolute blast
- Halo 3 multiplayer mode is included
- Steep price for such a short game
- Navigating from level to level can be frustrating
- Graphics are a bit dated
Score: 8.8/10 (Great)
Entertainment Value: 8.5/10
Patrick Obrien’s Review:
I was one of those people who thought Combat Evolved was an okay game, but waited religiously for Halo 2 and was incredible at it’s multiplayer. However, when Halo 3 was released my skill as well as my interest for the Halo series had sadly run out. ODST comes out with a completely new take on the Halo series, which I wasn’t impressed with. It revolves around a team of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers that were sent to do a mission and got scattered around the battlefield of New Mombasa.
The reason I wasn’t too thrilled about this particular ‘expansion’ to the Halo universe is that ODST’s characters might be highly trained soldiers, but they are still normal units without the Mjolnir armor system, which kills this entire game for me. After being a badass Spartan II for 3 games, why would you want to be a normal person who has normal armor. Even in the books they talk about how when Master Chief gets shot, instead of melting with one plasma bolt he blocks it with a shield. This implies that most other marines are done with one bolt of plasma.
The game’s story starts with a mission to a Covenant Carrier, which pulls into hyperspace right before the troopers can attach onto it. Your main character, dubbed the rookie, whose face you never see (how cliché) wakes up in the side of a building in his pod six hours after the mission started. You get out of the pod, walk around the city and learn the game’s mechanics and how to heal yourself, because, like a normal person, you have health.
There are two things in the game that I am very impressed with. The first being the pseudo sandbox overworld. You can go where you want in the city, but it’s very limited. Though, honestly, that suits the game really well. It’s not so big that it pisses you off, but it’s at least big enough to make the game a short 6 hours long. The map has a really cool overhead 3d layout and you can see your enemies from here instead of a radar. A word of warning, though, the game still plays in real time while the map is open, so be careful.
You walk around and kill covenant units at night, and you get to use a feature that shows the outlines of enemies as red and allies as green. Everything else has a yellow outline. This serves as an advanced flashlight, of sorts. Once you get to your first marker, the story plunges into a flashback. You play as one of the other characters that landed until you get to the place and find out how that helmet got there. This is how they break the story down into a series of clues to find the mystery of what’s going on in the game and where your other members are. This is really a fresh breath from what Bungie has given us before.
There is also a cool section of the game called Firefight, in which you’re given a number of lives and you have to withstand hordes of enemies that come at you. It can be quite fun, even when you have no friends to play online with.
As far as everything else with the game goes, it is really polished for even a Halo game. But you can’t duel wield weapons or hijack a wraith which really pissed me off. The Campaign was rather short and none of the other mechanics of the halo universe have changed, other than what I just mentioned. This game is nothing more than a $20 expansion that Microsoft insists on charging a full $60 for. Skip it or rent it.
Score: 6.3/10 (Below Average)
Entertainment Value: 4.0/10