HALO 3 ODST – Review (X360)

By Clinton “dreddsix6six” O’Shea

Overview

Let me just say this so it’s out of the way…this is Halo 3…without the Chief.  OK.  No threats of violence against this writer please, I didn’t say it’s a bad game, but like Halo Wars, a dear old friend is missing.  It just takes a little something away from the experience.  That’s all.

Features and Game play

So what can I tell you about the game that the average Xbox owner doesn’t already know?  Do you know it’s a First Person Shooter?  Erm, you do?  OK, it’s set in the future?  Old news, eh?  OK, think I’ve covered everything then.

I will admit that I went into the game without any great expectations.  The truth is that I am not a Halo obsessed gamer.  I enjoy the series, but other than Halo Wars, I kept getting the feeling I’ve seen it all before in other Sci-Fi based First Person Shooters.  So, here is a Halo FPS without its chief (pun intended) protagonist.  Surely it’ll be screamingly generic?

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No, actually, and yes…all at the same time.  It was actually quite refreshing to play a Halo FPS from a new perspective.  You play the game as an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper – the Navy SEALS of the Halo Universe).  Or I should say, you play the game as a number of ODSTs.  The game is played out from differing viewpoints throughout the campaign.  Essentially you are the Rookie, but as he goes in search and discovers the whereabouts of his squad mates, the game switches to the perspective of that squad mate and his battle after the mission in New Mombasa has started.

2552, and the city of New Mombasa should be the epicentre of decadence, but alas no – The Covenant are scaring and killing the human population because they want something hidden beneath the city’s streets.  The baddies are always so insensitive to us humans.  New Mombasa is quite a decent setting actually.  Dark and desolate, my only wish was that there was more human panic in the streets to heighten the tension.  Unfortunately, there are very few other people wondering about – bar a few Police Officers, Marines and, well, the bad guys of course.  Unfortunately, there is nothing new in that department.  Grunts, Brutes and Jackals – all your favourites, but nothing new.  The weapons however…are almost no different either.  The pistol (with zoom) is back.  And as a spec ops soldier, you get a…new sub-machine gun.  Whoop!  And the ammo runs out so quickly you’ll drop it within 6 minutes for something else.  So what else does our clearly very human soldier have up his sleeve?  The Visual Intelligence System Reconnaissance Class, or VISR for short.  It is essentially an advanced HUD built into your helmet which allows you to identify targets quickly and works quite brilliantly in low-light.  Essentially, it outlines enemies in red, friendlies in green and points of interest in yellow.  If it sounds like something you’ve seen before, the Detective Mode in Batman: AA might be where you’ve seen it.

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For most fans, the story has always been key in the Halo Universe, and for me, the story and characters were both highly likeable.  You really started to connect with the characters, which to be honest is a bit of a surprise, considering the fact that the main character hardly has any progression and the other characters come in and out of the campaign in very short bursts.  If you add the fact that the SP campaign is very short (around 5 hours if I counted correctly), it is a surprise that the story and characters have any time to grow on you at all.

The games graphics are (obviously) very reminiscent of Halo 3, but have been polished and are more than acceptable.  There are better looking games doing the rounds, but I suspect the whole low-light setting for the majority of the game was done to hide the slightly ageing visuals.  In the end, as mentioned a paragraph earlier, it’s never been the graphics, but the story in Halo, so I consider it a success.  At this point I would like to draw you to, in my humble opinion, Halo 3 ODST’s greatest success.

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Co-op.  Campaign.  And Firefight.  Campaign is as you’d expect.  Have a laugh with mates on Live and shoot The Covenant in the SP campaign.   Firefight takes this concept and chucks you in one small section of New Mombasa to battle waves of The Covenant.  Don’t ask me why, but it works, and it’s fun.  And yes, it’s a little like Gears of War 2’s Horde mode, but so what?  Firefight is the bomb.  It’s almost worth the price of entry on its own.

It has to be said that as far as a good deal goes, this game is very good.  You get two discs.  The first is the SP campaign and Firefight.  The second disc has all the Halo 3 Mulitplayer maps released to date.  Scratch that, it has the full Halo 3 MP experience on the disc.  Considering the maps cost around R140 plus bandwidth, anyone wanting to experience or expand on their Halo 3 MP experience will be getting an amazing deal.

Bits I Loved

  • Playing as different characters in the SP campaign.
  • The setting.
  • The music is generally very atmospheric.
  • FIREFIGHT!

Bits I Hated

  • Feels a little too generic.
  • Short.
  • Where’s Master Chief?

Conclusion

A highly likeable First Person romp through a slightly different setting in the Halo Universe.  With the second disc in the mix, it proves to be a very good value deal, even though the campaign is so short.

Link to site for more info, screen shots and videos: Official Site

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About Zombie Dredd

Wannabe gaming journalist. Wannabe zombie. And sometimes clan leader of OAP. Clint O'Shea when in his human disguise.