Halo 3: ODST


By: Angus Deacon    On: Xbox 360
Published: Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 10:30 AM
 
 
 
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Since the release of the original Halo in 2001, Bungie have brought in millions of dollars worth of sales for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console. Some fans strayed off the beaten track when Gears of War arrived on the scene, but there is no denying that the Halo franchise is still the coveted Xbox exclusive title with more clout. It also appears that there is plenty more room in the Halo universe for Bungie to explore. Their latest outing, ODST (initially titled Halo 3: Recon) offers us a new take on the acclaimed gameplay experience.

Firstly, I’m just going to come right out and say it. I never liked Master Chief. Besides his ridiculously unoriginal name (they might as well have called him ‘Big Boss Dude’), I failed to form any sort of connection with him emotionally. I couldn’t really care less if he died or if it was actually Swedish Chef inside that big armoured suit of his. Because of this, Halo 3’s storyline and single-player experience fell extremely flat. There was something about an Ark and some over-sized rings, something called an Activation index and then we all found ourselves inside some massive, pulsating intestinal thing. It was certainly playable, but I never felt emersed in the plot of the whole thing. Thankfully the game had an astounding multiplayer aspect that sold itself.

Bungie have picked up on this though and I’m very happy to say that ODST presents a greatly improved, more complex and compelling plot than all of the previous titles combined. And all without a single appearance from King Leader or whatever the hell his name was.

Instead Halo 3: ODST tells a story from the point of view of several different characters, each one more human and likable than Master Chief. The ODST in the title stands for Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (you can see why they abbreviated it), a team of highly trained soldiers who are the first to be deployed into enemy territory. Each ODST lacks the heavy-duty shielded armour and super-human strength of Spartans and instead rely on faster movement and stealth in combat. Because of this, they are often dropped in small numbers behind enemy lines to carry out sensitive or covert operations.

This is all apparent almost immediately into the game. ODST wastes no time in throwing you helmet-first into the fray with nothing but a brief cut-scene for an intro. You and your squad are orbiting Earth and preparing for a drop into the over-run port of New Mombasa, thousands of kilometres below. During this brief sequence, you learn bits and pieces about your fellow ODST’s through their interactions with one another. Each one oozes personality and although possibly a bit cliché at times, you can’t help but feel like part of the team. There is Dutch, the older more worldly wise and therefore negative veteran but with a heart of gold – voiced perfectly by Adam Baldwin. Self-proclaimed ladies-man Romeo who could hit a fly off a cow at a hundred paces with his sniper abilities. Lovable but naive Mickey, the youngest of the squad and although capable – lacks any real-life experience in combat. Followed by the leader of your group, Buck - a dashingly handsome and cheeky little bugger that reminds you instantly of Captain Malcolm Reynolds from the TV series FireFly. Which makes perfect sense because actor Nathan Fillion actually lends his voice to the character.

There are other, equally enjoyable characters to meet in the game as well. But before you can invite them all around to yours for a BBQ and some beers, everything suddenly goes horribly wrong and you are deployed into action. When you awaken and stumble from your drop-pod, you find you have crash-landed into a building deep within enemy territory and are stranded all alone.

From here the first-person shooter basically leaves it in your hands to figure out what to do next. Apart from the objective of finding medical supplies, all you can assume is you have to try and locate the rest of your squad and scope out the war-ravaged city you crash landed in. This creates an almost sand-box environment where clues and beacons are scattered around leading you towards a deeper storyline through side-missions and clever flash-backs. Each beacon opens up a new mission based around a particular character and each member of your squad may be in completely different areas, or even different points in time. One mission might be based along the roof-tops of high-rise buildings at night and another might take place in New Mombasa’s nature reserve where there are massive wide-open spaces and enemies everywhere. You will need to adapt to each environment by using different weapons, going in for quiet close-quarter kills or taking advantage of vehicles. There are moments where you will find yourself in the middle of an epic confrontation between dozens of units, and other times where you are sneaking up on a small band of enemies on patrol. Not only does it vary up the action with different maps, it all comes together beautifully to tell an amazing story too – all through the eyes of your squad from different angles.

Speaking of weapons and vehicles, not a lot has changed since Halo 3. Perhaps it is a bit disappointing, but I did appreciate the sense of familiarity of seeing a Warthog and knowing exactly what I can do with it. There was no time wasted figuring out what my gun does or what advantage it could bring for certain situations. Instead it was just good old fashioned instinct-driven mayhem. The health system has changed slightly though, as not being a beefy Spartan means no regenerative shield. But the dynamics of play haven’t changed greatly. Instead you now have “Stamina” which doesn’t have a meter on your HUD but is indicated by sounds of heavy breathing and general grunting when running low. When it sounds like you are about to have an asthma attack, you can have a quick rest and let it build up again. Very similar to the whole shield concept but players do seem more vulnerable than what we were used to in Halo 3. Luckily health packs are well placed through-out the maps too.

The other (much cooler) new feature of being an ODST is your visor which not only gives you night-vision but identifies enemies and colour codes targets in real-time. Enemies and friendly units are clearly distinguishable, objects and weapons outlined from a distance and more importantly low-light amplification for the levels that take place in the dead of night. Quite often in games the whole night-vision / thermal mode thing is a bit of a farce but ODST offers a completely different element to the gameplay when using it. The night missions require a more subtle, tactical approach where stealth is key. Of course it also just looks totally awesome.

Graphically, the game still uses the Halo 3 engine and therefore does show its age slightly. But Halo 3: ODST gets around this by tweaking the visuals nicely with an over-saturated palette and a foreboding tone that gives the game an unique feel. Besides there wasn’t much wrong with the Halo 3 engine to begin with so it is at no disadvantage. The music is a clear highlight though and features one of the most immersive and dramatic scores I have heard in a game for a long-time. From the very start of the game when you are followed by a haunting piano through to the sweeping orchestral and electronic movements later on - Halo 3: ODST makes love to your ears.

And finally, the multiplayer. When ODST was announced, all anyone could talk about was the new Firefight mode. Possibly because fans weren’t expecting the game to have such an impressive single-player campaign. But ODST still delivers a comprehensive online component that we have grown to expect from Bungie. For those who don’t know, Firefight is a co-operative multiplayer experience where teams of up to four nest down and defend wave upon wave of enemies from all directions. Working together is essential, with ammo and vehicles all scattered around the map offering their own advantages when used intelligently and collectively. The difficulty ramps up over time and players can collect modifiers that change aspects of the game known as Skulls. Everyone has compared it to Gears of Wars 2’s Horde mode but there was something about Firefight that made it feel more personal. It felt as if I really was one in a band of desperate humans doing everything they can to survive and wipe out over-powering numbers of Covenant forces. It was a huge amount of fun but I was amazed at how long a game of Firefight lasted. Don’t expect to while away thirty minutes before work as an average match for me took nearly two hours. My boss wasn’t happy either. But it didn’t once feel like it took anywhere near this long which is a definite sign of a solid multiplayer experience.

Halo 3: ODST packs in a lot of online madness for your dollar thanks to a second game disc that includes the “complete Halo 3 multiplayer experience”. It features 24 maps in total, including the open-ended frag-fest of the Sandbox map and 3 brand-spanking new maps yet to be released. Not to mention a sneak-peak at Halo: Reach beta.. oh, and the fact that you can also play ODST’s campaign mode again with multiplayer co-op as well. For Halo fans it is without a doubt, great value for money and one for your collection.

Truthfully, ODST isn’t a “completely new gameplay experience” that Bungie initially promised. It feels and acts like Halo 3, but contains enough improvements to make the experience refreshing. Most importantly though, it appears that Bungie are learning how to write and present an excellent single-player story to match the multiplayer prowess of Halo. Although the campaign mode only takes around 6 to 7 hours to get through, every moment is memorable and action packed. The future looks good – even without Master Chef… I mean Chief in the line-up.


The Score

Halo 3: ODST
"ODST makes love to your ears!"
9.0
Excellent
Rating: R16   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 30 Min

 

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Comments (37)

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Ron
On Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 10:45 AM Posted by Ron NZGamer.com VIP
Really enjoying the game at the moment, would have been good to see a co op storyline within the game, but oh well...
 
 
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Ubercuber
On Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 10:48 AM Posted by Ubercuber NZGamer.com VIP
If this wasn't called Halo...would the score be the same?

Halo 3 was one of the most overhyped games ever.
 
 
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Omg_a_kid_with_GTA
On Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 10:58 AM Posted by Omg_a_kid_with_GTA
23 September 2009, 10:45 AM Reply to Ron
Really enjoying the game at the moment, would have been good to see a co op storyline within the game, but oh well...
Yeah they should of done that.
 
 
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Omg_a_kid_with_GTA
On Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 10:59 AM Posted by Omg_a_kid_with_GTA
23 September 2009, 10:48 AM Reply to Ubercuber
If this wasn't called Halo...would the score be the same?

Halo 3 was one of the most overhyped games ever.
Its called Halo 3: ODST .
 
 
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Donutta
On Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 12:03 PM Posted by Donutta NZGamer.com VIP
I'm not being facetious or sarcastic here at all: you do realise that Master Chief is a naval ranking, right?
 
 
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PandaJenkins
On Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 4:00 PM Posted by PandaJenkins NZGamer.com VIP
23 September 2009, 10:48 AM Reply to Ubercuber
If this wasn't called Halo...would the score be the same?

Halo 3 was one of the most overhyped games ever.
You could say the same for any big series. Bashing only Halo for it is stupid. I aint saying ODST is amazing though (I have yet to play it) but I would expect it to be good. Halo 3 was good but I will agree that it is overrated. Then again I think tons of games are overrated....
 
 
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Stark97
On Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 4:02 PM Posted by Stark97 NZGamer.com VIP
No way the graphics are a 9.0
Everything else seems about right, but i'd give the graphics a lower score, really bad in some spots.
Great halo gameplay but.
 
 
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lexcalibur
On Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 4:08 PM Posted by lexcalibur NZGamer.com VIP
Not being a hater but 6 hours does seem a bit short for a $100 game, especially when the multiplayer doesn't extend that far beyond Halo 3.

Nonetheless, looks fun, might have to get an X360, skip the convoluted story of Halo 3 and go straight for this...
 
 
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thejuror84
On Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 5:11 PM Posted by thejuror84
Hmm Im not much of a Halo addict and have always resisted forking out for the map packs. You guys reckon this is worth getting alone just to have all the maps?
 
 
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tom_nz
On Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 7:41 PM Posted by tom_nz NZGamer.com VIP
Halo multiplayer is still by far the easiest to get into = most fun. Will be interesting to see how the new COD compares to this though.
 
 
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SpawnSeekSlay
On Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 8:32 PM Posted by SpawnSeekSlay NZGamer.com VIP
23 September 2009, 04:08 PM Reply to lexcalibur
Not being a hater but 6 hours does seem a bit short for a $100 game, especially when the multiplayer doesn't extend that far beyond Halo 3.

Nonetheless, looks fun, might have to get an X360, skip the convoluted story of Halo 3 and go straight for this...
6-7hrs is short, and i would hope it would be an epic action packed 6-7hours for the price.
Maybe thats the reason why ppl like u and I play RPG lol

I agree w Ron in it would have suited a co-op in there with the singleplayer campaign and firefight.
If this is going to be another largely multiplayer game I probably wont bother...
 
 
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djkicks
On Wednesday 23 Sep 2009 11:26 PM Posted by djkicks NZGamer.com VIP
23 September 2009, 12:03 PM Reply to Donutta
I'm not being facetious or sarcastic here at all: you do realise that Master Chief is a naval ranking, right?
lol thats what I was thinking.

Was there really a need for all that MC and H3 bashing at the start?

Sounds like a good game. But I'm going to wait until it's cheaper. Maybe one for my Xmas list.
 
 
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Ese-Boii
On Thursday 24 Sep 2009 9:18 AM Posted by Ese-Boii
Really Want 2 Play This Man!!
 
 
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Muff1nmanNZ
On Thursday 24 Sep 2009 10:52 AM Posted by Muff1nmanNZ
omg love it im getting it on friday i hope its not sold out by then :)
 
 
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Synergy
On Thursday 24 Sep 2009 10:57 AM Posted by Synergy
"Master Chief" might be a rank / title, but it's still a daft name for a main character. Imagine if Mario was called "Head Plumber" ? I don't think the franchise would've been quite as successful...
 
 
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Donutta
On Thursday 24 Sep 2009 11:06 AM Posted by Donutta NZGamer.com VIP
24 September 2009, 10:57 AM Reply to Synergy
"Master Chief" might be a rank / title, but it's still a daft name for a main character. Imagine if Mario was called "Head Plumber" ? I don't think the franchise would've been quite as successful...
Well his name's John. John-117, to be precise. But in battle, you don't really shout things like "Hey, John's here! We're saved!"

I can see where you are coming from, what with Master Chief now bringing up Halo BEFORE the naval ranking, but it seems like an odd thing to get hung up about. I don't think the Mario analogy is fair either. I doubt the success of Super Mario Bros. had anything to do with their names.
 
 
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BaldBish
On Thursday 24 Sep 2009 11:40 AM Posted by BaldBish
Didnt get Halo 3 cause everyone said it wasnt that good! Might give ODST a go instead :-)
 
 
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djkicks
On Thursday 24 Sep 2009 1:55 PM Posted by djkicks NZGamer.com VIP
Halo is a military based game. In the military you call people by their rank. They don't go around calling Sargent Johnson "Avery", or Captain Keyes "Jacob".
 
 
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lol
On Thursday 24 Sep 2009 6:33 PM Posted by lol
Halo3 Career =5/10
Halo3 Multiplayer =9/10
Halo3 Multiplayer online =100/10

This better b as good if not better...
(Espicialy the multiplayer)
 
 
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Srassy
On Thursday 24 Sep 2009 9:41 PM Posted by Srassy NZGamer.com VIP
I've heard that the gameplay can sometimes last only up to 5 hours so I don't know yet. Maybe secondhand or a rent.
 
 
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Veen130
On Thursday 24 Sep 2009 10:34 PM Posted by Veen130
I love this game. its not actually to much shorter than Halo 3. Firefight is awsome and incredibly adictive too.
 
 
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harksgal
On Friday 25 Sep 2009 7:43 PM Posted by harksgal
This game looks awesome!!!! Can't wait to plat it.
 
 
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Te-Tiko
On Friday 25 Sep 2009 10:03 PM Posted by Te-Tiko
sounds like Fun
 
 
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guitar93
On Saturday 26 Sep 2009 12:12 PM Posted by guitar93 NZGamer.com VIP
Sounds great, but ill wait till christmas to get it.
 
 
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gaming_gizmo
On Sunday 27 Sep 2009 11:33 PM Posted by gaming_gizmo
I recommend people hire the game out, as I believe it's not worth the $80-$100 price tag. Campaign is OK (in my opinion quite short) and firefight mode has been made very well. Overall, a good game
 
 
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sketch_nz
On Wednesday 30 Sep 2009 5:38 PM Posted by sketch_nz
Ha ha, I want to play it. Glad someone else agree's Master Chief is a silly name. And it doesn't matter if its a real rank, it just proves how arrogant the military is. Master something else maybe, but chief? military are soldiers not warriors.
 
 
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Soyerz
On Wednesday 30 Sep 2009 8:54 PM Posted by Soyerz NZGamer.com VIP
Can not wait to pick this up :)
 
 
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George Ing NZ
On Thursday 1 Oct 2009 12:06 PM Posted by George Ing NZ
great game !
 
 
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Gazza22
On Wednesday 7 Oct 2009 2:08 PM Posted by Gazza22 NZGamer.com VIP
23 September 2009, 10:48 AM Reply to Ubercuber
If this wasn't called Halo...would the score be the same?

Halo 3 was one of the most overhyped games ever.
Good call.
 
 
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Tharizden
On Monday 12 Oct 2009 5:37 PM Posted by Tharizden
23 September 2009, 10:48 AM Reply to Ubercuber
If this wasn't called Halo...would the score be the same?

Halo 3 was one of the most overhyped games ever.
You may well be right....but get used to it...there's a lot more to come. Check out this recent article:
Halo to run until at least 2015 ....link at:
http://bangbangtech.com/archives/111276/halo-to-run-until-at-least-2015-%E2%80%93-master-chief-will-be-back
 
 
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Niroshan
On Monday 12 Oct 2009 7:06 PM Posted by Niroshan
HEy not to be rude but your article lack correct information you mentioned that the ODST's are dropped thousands of killometers from space down to earth , this is very inccorect as its less than a few hundred meters before they( the ODSTs) hit the ground and this you would know if you were a true halo fan with all the correct information - so im gonna have to say you are somewhat misinformed, i got one more thing to add - ODSTs are NOT!!! "dropped in small numbers behind enemy lines to carry out sensitive or covert operations." infact they are the backbone of the UNSC, it is true that they dont rely on heavy MJOLNR armor systems with energy shields or Body enhnacements but they are dropped in not very large numbers like the marines but they are still dropped in the hundreds, this you would know if you have read the HALO NOVELS, hey no hard feelings once again im not here to pick on you or your article just here to correct your misunderstandings, anyways uf you like the HALO series read the novels they are good and THE FALL OF REACH should give you an idea of how HALO: REACH the next HALO game by bungie's gonna be like so yea, i do apologise if you i have offended you though.
 
 
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Niroshan
On Monday 12 Oct 2009 7:08 PM Posted by Niroshan
oh MASTER CHIEF's REAL NAME is JOHN, his unsc speops id is SII - 117 So like what DONNUTA said its an actual rank NOT a name
 
 
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Niroshan
On Monday 12 Oct 2009 7:10 PM Posted by Niroshan
oh its not a few hundred meters - it should be a few Kilometers
 
 
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Niroshan
On Monday 12 Oct 2009 7:14 PM Posted by Niroshan
hey the full rank for master chief is MASTER CHIEF PETTY OFFICER and it has nothing to do with the millitary being arrogant - its the NAVY by the way and MASTER CHIEF PETTY OFFICER is a rank that much lower than most ranks in the navy and the millitary - a lieutenant is higher than the MCPO rank so yea get your info right - no offense not being a jackass just thought ill share the info i know!
 
 
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tom_nz
On Wednesday 21 Oct 2009 8:45 AM Posted by tom_nz NZGamer.com VIP
12 October 2009, 07:14 PM Reply to Niroshan
hey the full rank for master chief is MASTER CHIEF PETTY OFFICER and it has nothing to do with the millitary being arrogant - its the NAVY by the way and MASTER CHIEF PETTY OFFICER is a rank that much lower than most ranks in the navy and the millitary - a lieutenant is higher than the MCPO rank so yea get your info right - no offense not being a jackass just thought ill share the info i know!
The amount of people that actually care about what you just said is slim to none. It's a game review. Not something out of a science journal where everything has to be spot on. Here's some chill pills, take two twice daily with food. Next!.......
 
 
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stupidlikeafox
On Thursday 29 Oct 2009 7:19 PM Posted by stupidlikeafox NZGamer.com VIP
average campaign. played through legendary co-op campaign in about 8 hours. also, the cut scene graphics were dodge. boo.
 
 
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Soyerz
On Saturday 6 Mar 2010 6:10 PM Posted by Soyerz NZGamer.com VIP
Very dissapointed with this game. It just felt shallow in terms of story and gameplay.

Really was just not necessary for the series to have this game.
 
 
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