Review By: Nick Arvites
|Publisher:||Microsoft Game Studios|
|# Of Players:||1-4 (2-16 online)|
|Accessories:||Xbox Live (online play, DLC), HDTV 1080p|
The Halo series is the flagship series for the Xbox brand. Halo was there at the inception of the Xbox line, and it has become one of the biggest franchises in the industry. When a new Halo game drops, people pay attention. Detractors of the series use claims of unoriginality, boring and derivative to describe it, but many others out there view a Halo title as the best shooter ever. I fall somewhere in the middle. I enjoy the games, but I’ve certainly played better. The series' multiplayer doesn’t bring anything really new to the table (see: Starseige Tribes, Unreal Tournament), but it packages it into a great suite with tons of user-friendly tools. The Halo series, regardless of if you love it or hate it, is a console shooter done right.
Halo 3: ODST (hereafter Halo ODST) was originally announced as a cheap expansion pack to Halo 3 titled Halo 3: Recon. During its development, the project apparently grew and was thus renamed to Halo 3: ODST. The renaming incited forum trolls everywhere by also changing the price tag to a full $60 USD. The game as released consists of a new campaign and the firefight mode on one disk, and the complete Halo 3 multiplayer suite—including the DLC maps—on the second disk.
After tearing open the cellophane wrapper of the package, I dropped Halo ODST into my Xbox 360 and started up a solo campaign on Heroic difficulty. Why Heroic instead of Legendary? My past experiences with the Halo series have told me that Heroic will give me a slight challenge, but still allow me to complete the game by myself in a reasonable time. Legendary setting, at least for me, would take twice as long solo. I usually reserve that for co-op. Anything easier than Heroic goes into “not dying during the entire playthrough” territory.
The campaign puts you in the armor of “Rookie,” a silent protagonist with absolutely no backstory or any sort of connection with his squad. He doesn’t have a proper name, not that it matters. The other characters refer to him as “rookie” or “you.” Unlike the other games in the Halo series, you play a normal soldier in an elite unit instead of a genetically enhanced supersoldier wearing bleeding-edge technology. The ODST are elite troopers in the Halo universe, and drop into warzones using one-man orbital drop pods. Think of this as the sci-fi equivalent of jumping out of an airplane. Naturally, the game starts with a botched launch during the invasion of New Mombasa depicted in Halo 2. The game picks up six hours after drop. At this point, the sun is down and the Covenant controls the city.
Once the game started moving, I noticed that this one would be slightly harder. The armor doesn’t take as much of a beating as the Spartan armor, and health does not regenerate the same way. Once you lose health, you need to find a med-kit in order to heal yourself. Because you can’t take as much damage, enemies are suddenly harder. Brutes become more challenging, and Hunters become extremely tough. Dual wielding weapons is out, and ammo can get scarce. The starting equipment is a silenced, scoped submachine gun and a silenced, scoped pistol. The pistol is really good for traditional Halo “pistol-sniping.” The submachine gun isn’t, and I found it pretty much ineffective against Brutes or even shielded Jackals.
Posted: 2009-10-04 12:44:36 PST