Bungie created an innovative and genre-changing trilogy so far. When I witnessed the first announcement of an expansion pack for Halo 3, I trembled in awe. Throughout the months following its unveiling my expectations grew, only to be shot down near the release date. From what was once a $30 expansion, to a full blown game for the usual $60, I staggered at the thought. They needed to jam that disc full of pure joy for my money. Finally, some initial reviews were in and things weren’t looking good. I received my chance to play it and I came to my conclusion. It’s not worth $60.
Now before you totally cancel the idea of buying it, you need to learn what the game provides you with. Halo 3: ODST tells a very compelling story, that I particularly enjoyed. You play as The Rookie, just a normal Orbital Drop Shock Trooper without the Spartan capabilities such as dual wielding and advanced shielding. The first thing you learn in the game is that you are NOT the Master Chief. The Covenant have left New Mombasa to be destroyed and you were originally sent in to stop their plans. Unfortunately hell breaks loose before you and your squad land and your forced to search for your fellow comrades.
Throughout the campaign you will be traversing New Mombasa in the dark. This “hub world” lets you explore and find clues as to where your friends are. Bungie did a excellent job of letting you understand that your alone, and your character actually cares about these missing people. Each clue that you find transports you into a flashback. In these flashbacks you play one of the ODST’s that your searching for. These flashback sequences allow you to widen your eyes, as it’s no longer dark, and get back into the epic gun battles that are Halo. These parts are paced very nicely through your midnight treasure hunt, but the combat between feels like place-holders. Unfortunately this is where the game confuses me, because in the end I couldn’t really link the flashbacks together. Near the end of the game things start culminating into very recent flashbacks but other than that I saw no need for some of the beginning sequences. Obviously if they weren’t the game would be even shorter than the 4-5 hours it lasts.
The graphics are much of the same Halo engine that we’ve already seen, and that’s not a bad thing. One thing that irked me is that, if this game is supposed to be based on these specific characters then why do the faces still seem sub-par? Bungie also seemed intent on making us know that we’re not the Master Chief, but why can I jump over towing crates, wield a machine gun turret and walk around even faster that the green guy himself? The game inevitably teaches you to find cover often as your battle strategy, but never punches you in the groin for being too brave. Maybe that’s harsh, but I feel like I’m just a weak Master Chief that is a horrible excuse for the change of pace.
This game would of been seen as a solid First Person Shooter and nothing else if it didn’t have that Halo moniker. I haven’t had a chance to play Firefight so I cannot judge that just yet. I will note that the soundtrack is absolutely amazingly; I loved it. If you are looking for a solid campaign and some more story to add to your Halo knowledge this would be well worth $20-$25 alone. With all this in mind, Halo 3: ODST was a fun addition to the Halo trilogy so far, but not a genre-buster that the previous titles have conquered.