Halo 3 ODST Review (Xbox 360)
There always seems to be a little madness surrounding a launch of a Halo game, but this time the madness seems to be more centered around the price of the game. It’s like many reviewers went into the game not to play it, but evaluate it on price. For me you can’t really put a price on an experience. For that reason all talk of this game being 60 bucks ends now, because no matter what Halo hating fanboys troll all over the web, the game is actually worth it.
The Story behind this game is fairly simple, there is no big surprise ending or cliffhanger, but even though the game possesses none of these elements it still does a very good job of building the characters around you and keeping you interested. The characters are acted quite well and the story does get you deeply involved, pity the story will only last about 5-6 hours, but in that time they have managed to make levels that I think in many ways were more fun to play through then Halo 3. Going from wondering around the city at night to intense firefights set a very specific mood never seen before in a Halo game. If I had had to fault the game for anything I would say the ending is a bit anti-climatic, but on a whole the story works quite well.
Halo has always stayed true to its visual roots from the first game; in terms of art direction the game looks quite good. The only problem is that the Halo graphics engine is starting to show its age a bit. There are some jaggy issues here and there, and character models can also sometimes look a bit funky. The woman in this game looks down right ugly! But at the end of the day the game overall still looks very nice. No other game looks like Halo and that is a very good thing. I do hope Bungie is working on improvements for the Halo engine for the upcoming Reach game.
You can never fault a Bungie game for bad sound as they have never made a game with mediocre music, and ODST in no different. Gone are the chanting monks and in their place is a somewhat jazzy score when walking the lonely streets of New Mombasa. The music does a great job of setting the mood when you are playing as the rookie. The music while playing out the fighting sections is just as engaging, as it sounds a bit more like the music from Halo 3, which is a good thing. A certain review that I read for this game said the music sounded like a porn soundtrack. I think whoever thought that BS line up must be smoking something strong, because no one could ever be farther off base. The music and voice acting is all top notch.
Since you are no longer Master Chief it makes sense that the game must change how you approach a fight, and ODST does it brilliantly. I was skeptical about whether or not it would feel different then Halo 3, but it really does. Unless you play on easy you really have to think a lot more then previous Halo games. Halo 1 – 3 were all about busting into a room and kicking ass. In ODST you get to kick the same ass, but in a much more tactical manner. You really have to be careful and plan your way around certain types of enemies. This tactical feel adds a nice contrast to the Halo world that we have never seen before, and I am glad to see that Bungie took some risks with their franchise. Even with the change in tactics the game still does feel like a Halo game, it does not deviate far enough to feel like a completely different game. Controls are still the same and the feel of weapons remains true as well. What is different is all about how you go about getting through the game, and it works surprisingly well.
Since Halo 3’s multplayer has been around for two years now I obviously have no need to review that. It’s still the king of XBL, or will be until Novemeber 10th. But we do get an addition to the Halo online experience that is worth its weight in gold. Firefight mode is awesome, to be brief and to the point. Yes it’s basically Horde mode from Gears of War 2, but Bungie didn’t just copy horde and add in Halo enemies. They incorporated a lot of cool ways to change up the experience. The inclusion of random skulls makes for rounds that can change wildly between them, and a shared lives system means you must trust your teammates quite a lot. I am kind of sad that they did not include a matchmaking function for firefight, but I did not find it too hard to get a game going. Just don’t be anti-social, ask around while playing and you will find plenty of people willing to play. Firefight is fun, intense, and a blast to play with your friends. It may be too early for me to make a decision, but I think I like it way more then Horde mode in Gears.
In conclusion Bungie took a very short amount of time and made a very solid and fun addition to the Halo campaign. Yes it is short, but firefight mode will last you a long time. It alone is a good enough reason to pick this game up. If you didn’t like Halo before ODST it’s not going to change your opinion. This game is for the Halo fans and does a good service to them. If you love Halo then picking up ODST is a no brainer. Don’t let all the Halo haters’ propaganda scare you away from giving ODST a try. Halo 3 ODST gets a 4 out of 5.
Tags: bungie, fps, halo, ODST