Review: Halo 3: ODST

Halo 3 ODST reviewHalo 2’s E3 demo from 2003 was the stuff of legends, something that had the fans salivating for the next instalment of Bungie’s break-through franchise. The sight of the Pelican dropship swooping down onto an Earth city under attack by the Covenant took people’s breaths away, and gave them a tantalizing glimpse of our home planet in the Chief’s universe. Ultimately, the final version of Halo 2 featured a New Mombasa that couldn’t deliver on the high hopes set by the demonstration, and left Halo enthusiasts wanting.

Six years later, we finally get our chance to explore the city of New Mombasa as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, or ODST. These special forces troops are dropped from orbiting ships in one-man pods, and are the only human soldiers in the Halo games that can stand up to SPARTANs in terms of bad-assery. The basic premise of the game is that your squad is dropped into New Mombasa, ostensibly to assault a Covenant ship that’s parked above the city, but things go horribly awry. The ship enters light speed inside Earth’s atmosphere causing a massive explosion and scattering your squad to the winds. You mostly play as the Rookie, a new-comer to the ODST squad, six hours after the drop. You search the hub city of Mombasa for clues as to what happened to your squad and your mission.

When you find the clues, you inhabit the body of your squad-mates and play through a part of their story, tying together what happened while you were unconscious. The story from start to finish is extremely polished, and is the best Halo campaign delivered to date. The voice acting, featuring such luminary talents as Nathan Fillion, Tricia Helfer and Nolan North helps to really tie the narrative together and adds a sense of personality that the Halo series has lacked.

The city of Mombasa itself is very impressive, and is one of the largest Halo settings to date. When you play as the Rookie, you have the whole run of the city and you can travel seamlessly from one corner to the other. There are a couple spots where the game needs to load the next area, but they’re nothing more than a couple second hiccup.

Even though ODST is built upon the existing Halo 3 engine, great strides were taken by the game’s artists to ensure that the two-year old technology wasn’t starting to show its age. While the game does falter in the graphics area in some respects, the faces of your squad being the most noticeable deficiency, the lighting effects more than make up for any faults the engine has. The skyboxes are particularly impressive, so much so to the point where you’ll want to take a moment and just look.

Halo 3 ODST Review

Because the game is constructed on top of Halo 3’s foundation, there are a lot of similarities in the game-play, even if Bungie has tried to make the experience of being an ODST different from that of playing a SPARTAN. The most noticeable variation is that you no longer have a regenerating shield; instead you have Stamina and Base Health. The Health is monitored in your integrated helmet display as a yellow bar underneath your directional compass. Your Stamina is displayed as a reddening of the screen when you take fire; the more damage your take, the redder the screen gets until is washes out all color and your Health begins to deplete. Fortunately, health dispensing kiosks are spread all throughout the city, and they’re sprinkled fairly liberally across the map in supply points as well.

With health readily available around every corner, and your Stamina being fairly robust even on the highest difficulty, you can charge into every battle as if you were still playing as the Master Chief. For playing as a supposedly “frailer” character, you have the same feeling of invincibility as you did in Halo 3. The only thing that you’re not able to do as a Drop Trooper is dual-wield weapons, but you can carry around large turrets and beat down Brutes with abandon.

New to Halo 3: ODST are a few pieces of equipment, two of which are upgraded variants of a couple standard Halo armaments. The new weapons are sound-suppressed versions of the Halo 2 pistol and the submachine-gun. Both weapons feature a linked scope, so you can zoom in up to two times with the SMG, and up to four times with the pistol. The SMG itself is kind of useless; most of the enemies in the game are resistant to its fire, and the ammo drains fairly quickly. Conversely, the pistol is the most useful weapon available to you: it’s a fast firing head-shot machine, and a careful gunman can wipe out a squad of Brutes with only a few carefully places shots, provided their shields are down first.

Halo 3 ODST Review

Besides the new firearms, ODSTs are also issued a built in night vision display which illuminates darkened areas and highlights enemies in red and friendlies in green. The Rookie segments of the game make liberal use of this vision mode, and you’ll be flicking it on a few times in the flash-back scenes as well. This more than makes up for the lack of a motion-tracker in your display, and is extremely useful for finding items hidden in the city.

The campaign will run you about seven hours on Heroic, a fairly short jaunt for big budget titles these days. To pad out the game, Bungie included a side-story of sorts in the hub city, which is collected through various data terminals. Gathering the audio-logs unlocks supply depots around the city, but since you’ll probably finish the game before you find all 30, this makes the perk rather a moot point. Unless you enjoy the gruelling torture that is Halo on Legendary, expect to play this campaign only once or twice unless you’re really into achievements.

Where ODST gets its legs, however, is the excellent Firefight mode included with the disc. Firefight is similar in gameplay to Horde mode from Gears of War 2 or Nazi Zombies from World at War. You and up to three friends take on increasingly difficult waves of Covenant troops, with Halo’s difficulty multiplying skulls coming into play every once and a while. The skulls do different things such as make enemies dodge grenades more effectively, or have weapons drop with half ammo. The game can get fast and furious, and Halo’s excellent mechanics ensure that you’ll have a blast playing Firefight for hours on end. There is no matchmaking included with Firefight, but you’ll want to play the game with three competent friends rather than endure the inanity of the bottom rung of society that is X-Box LIVE.

halo-3-odst-firefight-3

As a bonus, the complete Halo 3 multi-player experience is bundled on a second disc in the ODST package, and it features all the maps released up until this point with three new maps included. Unless you’re not that into spending MS points on maps, chances are you’ll already have these but the three new maps make it worth-while for the Halo MP enthusiast.

Of course, I couldn’t do an ODST review without touching on the price point for the game. Much has been made of the title and whether it’s worth the sixty dollar tag or not. Originally, ODST was announced as a twenty to forty dollar expansion pack, something fairly small in scale. Of course, bumping the tag up to the full price range had people wondering whether Microsoft was pushing for a big Fall Halo release to pad their bottom line. While I’m sure that there is some of that going on behind closed doors, the fact remains that I’ve paid sixty dollars for other games and gotten a whole lot less. Between the excellent campaign, Firefight, and Halo 3’s much-lauded multi-player, not to mention a sneak peak at Halo: REACH, ODST is worth the price of admission.

So there you have it, folks, ODST dissected and laid bare for your examination. Now that I’ve given you the break down, I’ve got a few questions for you: have you tried ODST yet, and what do you think of it? Do you think that the price is fair, or is it too much? How awesome is Nathan Fillion? So Awesome. Go!

GamerSushi Score:

C

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Written by

mitch@gamersushi.com Twitter: @mi7ch Gamertag: Lubeius PSN ID: Lubeius SteamID: Lube182 Origin/EA:Lube182 Currently Playing: Stardew Valley, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, Battlefield 4, Tom Clancy Double Feature: Rainbow Six Siege and The Division

17 thoughts on “Review: Halo 3: ODST”

  1. I have a problem with people saying the SMG is useless, considering it’s a damn good weapon for taking out the Brute shields for the oh-so-coveted headshot ability the new pistol has. It’s just as good a weapon for taking out Jackals, Grunts, and the like. There isn’t a better weapon for taking out Drones than the SMG, actually. The thing is ridiculously accurate in this game, especially with the new 2x sight.

    Aside from that minor detail, the only other thing I mention is that the Firefight skulls don’t come into play “once in a while”, it’s actually pretty linear how the skulls progress. I don’t know how the skulls act past Set Four after everything has been activated, but the start of Set Five just has everything aside from Iron activated, so I don’t think they become random after that. Firefight is still damn fun, however.

    And that’s all I disagree with, the rest of the review I agree with.

  2. Is it just me or are all of your reviews B’s and A’s. Isn’t the problem that you attributed to other gaming sites or do you just choose to review great games.

    As for the game, I have not played it, but the fact that your almost master chief status in terms of how much damage you can take, I find it to be not that different than the other halo games. I thought it would be more tactical and higher bullet damage, like the rainbow six games

  3. I’ve played this game over at my friend’s places but I just don’t think I’d shell out $60 for this Jizzgasm. I say this primarily becuase I don’t even have Halo 3 and when I buy a game, the singleplayer is what entices me (With the exception of games designed for MP) so I don’t think I’d wanna shell out all that money, especially when I have about $240 in purchaes already lined up.

  4. Really? An A? I’m sorry, guys, but I picked this up less than a week ago and already I’ve beaten the campaign and played more than a few dozen rounds of firefight. Firefight is fun, but in all honesty the campaign is short and not all that satisfying.

    The story is really nonexistant. You drop into a city, shoot some guys, look through your squadmates eyes for awhile, etc, etc. Sure there’s a ‘mystery’ to solve, but it just didn’t make me interested in much other than what Halo does well – shooting things.

    Also, as with Halo 3, the bloom is excessive in lit areas and the much-lauded VISR mode is useless everywhere but the city, and while using it you have no gauge whatsoever about how low your stamina is. It becomes most annoying in the semi-dark levels where it’s difficult to see enemies without it, but you can’t see more than a few feet with it.

    All in all, firefight mode is indeed a blast, but the campaign is merely passable, and if you already have Halo 3, the multiplayer disc isn’t worth much. Looking at your grading scale, there is no way this game deserves an A – this game does not define a console or a generation.

    Also, the SMG is pretty good against brutes if you don’t have a plasma pistol, if that hasn’t already been said.

  5. @ Muaddib
    They gave Mirror’s Edge a ‘C’ so, not all A’s and B’s.
    ODST interests me (but not enough to make me buy a 360) so I’ll play a friend’s copy eventually.

  6. LOL. There is no way this game is worth 60 bucks. I think Eddy said recently that the 8 hour Batman campaign wasn’t worth 60 bucks, so how is this 6-7 hour campaign thats never even difficult worth that much? And the rest of the game feels more like an online update. I felt robbed when i shelled out 60 bucks for this

  7. As for the reviews, I just want to find a site that is more critical of games and actually uses the entire grading scale, so you can differentiate the games. I just guess that you guys only buy good games you already want, then review them, cause your not a dedicated review site.

  8. [quote comment=”8643″]As for the reviews, I just want to find a site that is more critical of games and actually uses the entire grading scale, so you can differentiate the games. I just guess that you guys only buy good games you already want, then review them, cause your not a dedicated review site.[/quote]

    Yeah, I mean, we’re not one of those sites that can review every single game that comes out. We try to review what we can, but really, we’re just a few dudes who do this in our free time. I only really spend my time playing AAA games these days, but I do my best to try and bran out a tad. I think it would help if we had a list of games you guys wanted us to review, and then we’d definitely try to knock some of those out.

    As to the review, remember that a review is just one man’s opinion.

    Personally, I would have given Halo 3: ODST something a little lower. I’d rate the main campaign somewhere on the C scale, though Firefight would easily get an A+.

  9. [quote comment=”8643″]As for the reviews, I just want to find a site that is more critical of games and actually uses the entire grading scale, so you can differentiate the games. I just guess that you guys only buy good games you already want, then review them, cause your not a dedicated review site.[/quote]

    Never use one review. Use a wide array. I read Gamespot, IGN and 1UP.com for all mine, with 1UP being the final word if I am uncertain

  10. Something else to keep in mind is that so far we’ve only reviewed games we actually finished.

    The bad games, the ones that would have gotten lower scores? Probably didn’t finish those.

    I think the only way you’d ever see a D or an F review on this site is if we knowingly sought out and finished a “bad” game. Not sure how that would be helpful, though – you probably wouldn’t have bought the bad game in the first place.

  11. [quote comment=”8645″]
    Never use one review. Use a wide array. I read Gamespot, IGN and 1UP.com for all mine, with 1UP being the final word if I am uncertain[/quote]

    That’s what Metacritic is for. 😉

  12. [quote comment=”8665″][quote comment=”8645″]
    Never use one review. Use a wide array. I read Gamespot, IGN and 1UP.com for all mine, with 1UP being the final word if I am uncertain[/quote]

    That’s what Metacritic is for. ;)[/quote]

    Nope. I don’t look at the scores. I read the text of the reviews. I know what type of games I like and reading different people’s experiences playing the game usually tells me if I will like it or not. If they all complain about it being repetitive, then I will likely not want to buy it.

    Scores don’t mean much. The actual written review is what I am after. So I do use metacritic, but only to get the links to read the actual reviews.

    Due to this exhausting system, I rarely buy a bad game.

  13. [quote comment=”8666″][quote comment=”8665″][quote comment=”8645″]
    Never use one review. Use a wide array. I read Gamespot, IGN and 1UP.com for all mine, with 1UP being the final word if I am uncertain[/quote]

    That’s what Metacritic is for. ;)[/quote]

    Nope. I don’t look at the scores. I read the text of the reviews. I know what type of games I like and reading different people’s experiences playing the game usually tells me if I will like it or not. If they all complain about it being repetitive, then I will likely not want to buy it.

    Scores don’t mean much. The actual written review is what I am after. So I do use metacritic, but only to get the links to read the actual reviews.

    Due to this exhausting system, I rarely buy a bad game.[/quote]

    Easy people…

    If scores were the only thing people based their liking of a game on, people would go and buy a game just because a huge player like IGN, Gamespot, 1Up, or MetaCritic posted a high score. Frankly, just like Anthony, I actually read the review, and that’s what I base my purchases on, not the score.

    For those who are giving Mitch’s score criticism, why don’t you take a look at the big players’ reviews.

    * http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/xbox360/halo3odst

    * http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/halo3untitledodstgame/index.html?tag=result;title;0

    * http://xbox360.ign.com/objects/852/852871.html

    * http://www.1up.com/do/gameOverview?cId=3169382

    Based on the scores given in those, I’d say Mitch’s is quite accurate. His ACTUAL review of the game is accurate as well.

    Don’t base it on scores, base it on the content the reviewer describes. Pull up your skirts and get your sh*t together.

  14. . Anyone who just looks at a letter grade / out-of-100 review and decides if they should or should not buy a game is seriously in need of a kick in the ePants.

    Read the reviewers that you tend to agree with, and if there is still a serious discrepency, rent or steal the game and then make up your own mind. The guys here aren’t doing this for money or props or for advertisement.

    Point and case, as SkubaPatr0l pointed out, Mirror’s Edge only recieved a C here… And I PERSONALLY Feel like it was a much more intriguing game than any of the Halo games. You can fight that all you want, but that has nothing to do with the type of gamer I am and what it means to me to play or purchase a specific game.

    I’ve loved a lot of games that have generally got bad “metacritic” scores (Only referring to them as an on-going STEAM user) such as Sniper Elite (Awesome AWESOME game) – only got a 76 by metacritic – compare that to Assassin’s Creed which only recieved a 79 from MC or Crayon Physics Deluxe which recieved THE SAME SCORE.

    The Numbers don’t mean anything unless you know what kind of gamer YOU are. If you only buy games because of numbers and letter grades then I bite my tounge when you call yourself a gamer.

  15. Julez is right. Dark Alliance 2 got terrible reviews, but I bought it cause it was just like the first game and thats what I wanted!

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