Halo 3: ODST Review

Master Chief has some big shoes to fill. That’s why it takes a whole team of grizzly, tobacco-chewing, alien-ass kicking, quick-shooting tough guys to do the job. And you, obviously.

By Rupert Higham, October 1, 2009

Bungie have stated that ODST was intended to focus on a more human narrative than the previous game’s galaxy-hopping, one-man-army tale of a near-invincible super soldier single-handily bringing down an empire. New Mombasa’s gloomy and abandoned rainy cityscape offers a frosty welcome to The Rookie tasked with finding out what happened to the rest of his team mates. While Tarantino may have popularised non-linear storylines in modern movies, video games haven’t exploited it on the same scale, leaving Bungie’s chosen method of story telling to feel satisfyingly fresh. You could comfortably say that ODST is Halo does film noire, plus Predator. Your gang of highly-trained, tough-talking soldiers struggle to survive New Mombasa’s urban jungle with the all the ominous atmosphere, narrative twists, and even femme fatales that you would expect from the genre.

In Master Chief's absence, three grunts fancy their chances.

In Master Chief's absence, three grunts fancy their chances.

Beginning its life as a side project intended for digital download, ODST’s campaign is understandably brief. Eight hours is a generous enough time to allow you to uncover the mystery of New Mombasa, but you can be sure that many of the hours ODST spends spinning in disc trays will be spent on Firefight mode. Quite transparently Halo’s answer to Gears of War 2’s brilliant Horde mode, Firefight allows four friends to co-operatively take on waves of Covenant troops, giving less-experienced players a chance to hone their skills alongside more dedicated friends. Halo’s emergent gameplay allows for some incredible set pieces that keep things fresh and further cements the concept as an essential part of any online FPS with a view to recruiting new players.

Bungie’s decision to include Halo 3’s multiplayer component in its entirety (including all released map packs, Forge mode and three new exclusives maps) deserves serious praise. It will come as news to nobody that Halo 3’s exemplary multiplayer infrastructure, perfectly balanced shoot-melee-grenade weapon trinity and expertly designed maps are as compelling now as they were in 2007. For many this will be a wealth of additional content for a game they already know and love.

He may not be a Spartan, but Dutch wields the Spartan Laser to devastating effect.

He may not be a Spartan, but Dutch wields the Spartan laser to devastating effect.

Halo 3: ODST is by no means a flawless game. It provides little in the way of surprises with only minor changes to enemies and arsenals. ODSTs microcosm of events never feels as grandiose as Master Chief’s (it’s never going to be as exciting to inadvertently help somebody save the world as it is to save the world yourself) and Bungie still don’t show the same perfect eye for level design in campaign mode as they do multiplayer. They do however demonstrate why they command such praise and adoration from players. Sneaking in cleverly before the Modern Warfare 2 circus comes to town, Halo3: ODST is a predictably essential purchase.

8 out of 10

Posted in Reviews, and tagged with , , , .

Comments are closed.


Kikizo Classic: