A Brit Late – Halo 3: ODST

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I was excited when Halo 3 ODST was initially announced. A new campaign with new characters and weapons where you’re not Master Chief again? Awesome! It was later revealed that ODST wouldn’t be available as DLC, only on disc. Okay, kind of a dick move but I can work with it. Then finally Microsoft revealed that the game would retail at the same price as any other brand new Xbox 360 game. By this point I’d lost interest. There was no way I was going to pay full price for what I saw (and still see) as an expansion pack. Luckily, thanks to being a master of the art of tightgittery, I finally ended up getting my hands on ODST after lending it from a friend while he lent Red Faction: Guerrilla. Now that I’ve had the game on my hands for nearly two weeks now and after playing as much as I can, it’s time for A Brit Late. Just a note before I go into the review though. I’m only reviewing the campaign disc for two reasons because a)My friend is still using the multiplayer disc regularly and b)It’s just Halo 3 multiplayer, which you can easily find out about elsewhere. Hit the jump for my review of ODST.

If you don’t already know, ODST puts you in the shoes of the Rookie, who is coincidentally, just as silent and ambiguous as the Master Chief himself. He and his fellow ODSTs are given an important mission to go into the warzone of New Mombasa to find something which even they don’t know about. However, the ODSTs get blown off course in entry and you wake up as the Rookie six hours later, with the city in ruins and Covenant everywhere. As the Rookie, it’s your job to find out what happened to your fellow ODSTs and what the misson was about.

And here’s where the game’s major problem comes from. The story is so generic and boring that it’s hardly worth caring about. Now I’m not saying that any Halo game has a great story. After all, it’s a typical Sci-fi story of man’s venture into the unknown and fighting an alien threat. However, at least in past Halo games, you could get behind the idea of the story and Master Chief’s struggle to defeat the Covenant and later on the Flood. Also, the characters were at least likeable, from the quiet but deadly Master Chief to the loudmouth, badass Sgt.Johnson.

Here however, without spoiling too much, most of the story is essentially pointless. It’s only until the end of the game that the story begins to have any significance and until then it’s pretty much “Here are some Convenant, shoot them in the face”. The other problem is that none of the new characters are likeable at all. They have no personality and bring out all of the stereotypical features of soldiers. Infact, the Rookie is the best character because we never have to hear him speak. There’s nothing wrong with the voice acting, it’s just the characters that are the problem.

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But then here’s what makes me laugh. Outside of the story, it’s actually quite a fun game. It’s certainly just as good as Halo 3’s campaign, although both have their ups and downs. For example, ODST’s campaign is a lot more constrictive, but this works to its advantage, as it gets to show off all of the fun aspects of what you’d expect in a Halo game, from all of the various human and Covenant weaponry to their ground and flight vehicles. On the other hand, it lacks any of the epic feeling moments from Halo 3, which is mostly the story’s fault.

However, the campaign is a double edged sword. While it does get to show off a lot of the great parts of a Halo game with less of the filler, it is also painfully short. I was able to complete it on heroic in about 6-7 hours and that includes the hub sections. I wouldn’t have a problem with this if it was DLC, but it just doesn’t cut it at full retail price. Especially since there are already big DLC expansions that offer just as much or more for cheaper (I’m looking at you GTA).

Speaking of the hub sections, they are another problem with the game. If they served some actual purpose, then I might have been able to get behind the idea but the hub sections literally consist of going from one mission to the next, while fighting a few Covenant along the way. There are audio files scattered about throughout New Mombasa that give you a side story, but if the main story can’t even entertain me, then the side story won’t.

But like I said, despite it’s faults, ODST is still a fun game. The biggest gimmick of the game is that you’re not Master Chief, so you lack of the abilities that you previously took for granted, such as regenerating health, large jumps and firmly smacking a Brute in the face. However, as gimmicky as it sounds, it actually works quite well. It means that you can’t just go into a large group of covenant, guns blazing, and expect to come out alive. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to do this on Legendary Halo 3 anyway but the point still stands that you have to fight wisely, making the best use of cover and the limited ammunition that’s available. For me, it made things fresh enough again for me to enjoy actually playing through the campaign itself, regardless of the story.

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Finally, the other main feature of the game is the brand new Firefight mode. Whatever Bungie might say, this is just Gears Of War 2’s horde mode or Left 4 Dead’s survival mode. Fight until you die. You begin with the ODST weapons of the scoped SMG and pistol (which are both good weapons by the way), 6 lives, and one wave of Covenant troops. The catch here is that what enemies drop is random. One moment you could be putting a pack of Grunts out of their misery and then the next wave will have a 3-5 man squad of Brutes with Gravity Hammers. It really keeps you on your toes and is actually quite fun and challenging. It can also be played with friends, so you’re not always alone for the ride. It makes a change to shoot a common enemy in the face instead of each other, anyway.

So in conclusion, I enjoyed Halo 3: ODST for what it should have been, DLC. One could argue that the inclusion of Halo 3’s multiplayer makes it worth the full price, but if I wanted to play Halo 3 multiplayer then I’d just use my Halo 3 disc. If there was an option of just buying the campaign disc then I wouldn’t have a problem but with the franchise being as popular as it is, there’s no chance of that happening.  To finish off the review, I’d say that Halo 3: ODST is a polished game that has fun moments but is ultimately lacking in content, making a purchase of only big fans of Halo and a rent to anyone else.

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