Before you get to angry from the title, hear me out. I’m a Halo fan, I’ve beaten every Halo game on Legendary up to this point, I’ve read the books, and for the most part, I’ve loved everything about it. You could imagine that, like any Halo fan, once I got my hands on ODST, I was jumping up and down like a little girl. The trailers did everything right and the new Firefight modes looked totally awesome. Unfortunately, Bungie failed to let us know that we would be paying $65 for half a game.
I don’t want to ruin the entire storyline for you, so I’ll keep it brief. The game is centered around a squad of ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers), who “hell jump” in tiny pods down onto an overrun New Mombasa. You play the role of the cliché “Rookie” who is new to the squad. While jumping down to attack a covenant ship, your entire team’s assault is ruined when the ship goes into slipspace (imagine Star Wars’ Light Speed). The shock wave sends your teammate’s pods crashing into each other and spiraling down towards New Mombasa. The rest of the game is spent running around a large city map looking for “clues” and playing flashback missions, revealing what happened to your squad.
The fact that you are a human character, instead of a Mjolnir sporting deathmachine, changes a lot about the play style of ODST. Say goodbye to Halo’s traditional shields and red damage indicator and say hello to ODST’s pain in your ass. You have a red blur to start, somehow signifying your “stamina”, and once that is completely red, you have a health bar that won’t regenerate. Once injured, you have to run around trying to find health packs or a healing station. Let me tell you, it becomes a huge inconvenience when you are limited to peeking around boxes so that your stamina stays high, since your health is almost gone, while your friends are jumping into the fray. I love a challenging game, but this was just more of a constant irritation.
The campaign is fairly short, easy to do in few hours if you’ve ever played Halo before. The main storyline of the game consists of you constantly running around this open city with “NO AMMO” blinking on your HUD, while Brute after Brute takes his turn throwing you around the city. The higher difficulties present a temporary challenge, but mostly frustration. The consistent uselessness of your new silenced weapons leaves you begging for a Battle Rifle, which, along with the sword, are absent in ODST. The new pistol is a nice throwback and effective against grunts and jackals, but unless you combine it with the plasma pistol, it’s worthless against shielded brutes.
Bungie really tried to create characters that you could get attached to and be interested in, but it was cliché and silly from the first cut scene. I found myself tapping A to skip, simply because i was bored with their dialogues. The music was exactly what you would expect from ODST, a few re-mixes of old Halo songs and one completely out of place noir style saxophone piece. Probably the funniest thing i’ve ever experienced in a Halo game was attacking a covenant patrol while hearing a jazz sax belt out some dentist office music. In keeping with Halo tradition, the voice acting was pretty decent; bringing in Firefly’s: Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin and Alan Tudyk.
Thank God that Halo 3: ODST brought in Firefight mode, because there is literally no other multi-player in the game. It was a huge let-down to find that my favorite game types from Halo 3 were not going to take on an ODST twist. Firefight is a surprisingly fun rip off of Gears of War 2’s Horde Mode. It allows you and three friends to take on increasingly difficult waves of Covenant attacks, while mixing in game changing Skulls to keep you on your toes. I’ve found that Firefight is the saving grace of ODST, because the campaign has no replay value whatsoever. My one complaint about Firefight is that there is no option for matchmaking; you can only play with friends who have ODST as well. That just seems like laziness on their part.
Overall, its safe to say that ODST was unable to live up to it’s hype. The campaign was more dreadfully boring than it was an exciting change to the series. The music is passable, but there’s nothing present that I haven’t heard in previous Halo titles…other than that jazzy sax…that was totally weird. You don’t even get a true multi-player mode, so I don’t have to touch on that. Firefight is definitely the highlight of the disc, but I can’t say that it’s worth the heavy price tag and is too little too late after playing through the campaign. One thing that may interest you is that the full 1000 Achievement points are quite possible to get in a timely fashion, but still hardly a reason to pick this game up. I was really hoping for a lot more from this game, but it felt like just another attempt to get ridiculous amounts of cash from Halo fanboys.
I give Halo 3: ODST 3 “Jazzy Saxophones” out of 5
By Blake Edwards