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Halo 3: ODST Review [360]

1 Oct 2009  by   Paul Younger
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I’ll be honest, I was never really looking forward to this game. It’s not because I’m not a Halo fan – on the contrary, I’m a huge Halo fan and my decision to trade in my PS2 many moons back for an Xbox was made entirely on that basis. I’d seen it, played it with friends and loved it.Halo 2 then came out and, despite everyone moaning at me, this was my favourite of the trilogy. Although Halo 3 was great, I felt it a little lacklustre and not as epic as the fist two games. And this might also be why I’m was a little dubious about ODST as it takes place during the first few levels of Halo 2. Despite this, there was no denying that Halo is the father of shooters on the Microsoft consoles, especially when it comes to Xbox LIVE, with Halo by far the king of multiplayer (although COD 4 regularly gives it a run for its money).But the charm of Halo was playing as the Master Chief, the hard-ass, planet-protecting (or destroying) Spartan of the UNSC. Halo 3: ODST sees you playing an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, not of Spartan quality, but still pretty tough. You won’t be able to regenerate health, you won’t have access to a map nor will you be able to wield two weapons, run as fast as the spartans or jump as high, but you’re still an effective fighting machine. But because technically you’re not as badass as a Spartan, the emphasis here is on your squad and this becomes more apparent as you progress through the game in the way of cut-scenes and flashbacks, which we’ll go on to later.First I want to tackle the location:  New Mombasa. It’s a strange feeling to be strolling around a deserted city, it feels strange for a Halo game. That’s not to say that it’s bad, it’s just a little strange. How you’ve ended up in New Mombasa as the Rookie though isn’t too strange. Without going into too much detail you are introduced to the game through the compulsory cut-scenes showing a build up of forces over New Mombasa. These forces are the forces of the Covenant Hierarch, the High Prophet of Regret and this was to be the starting battle which would be referred to later as the First Battle of Earth. Before any of that happens, the ODST have to start fighting and, while dropping, a Covenant ship disappears through a portal throwing all the ODSTs off course. The result is a crash landing in a devastated New Mombasa.The game is broken down quite cleverly at this stage. Waking six hours after you crash landed, lost and disoriented, your mission is to find the rest of your squad. There is no communication on your radio and the only objectives you have are to stay alive and find the squad. Because you’re not the Master Chief you’ll have to find health packs if you encounter a particularly hard Covenant patrol, but there are enough of them kicking around to ensure you don’t have to do missions over and over again. As I said before, you’re not given the same advantages as the Spartans, but you’ve still got a few cool features which will help you navigate the locked-down city. The VISR (surprisingly, a visor) offers information on the surroundings by colour-coding the outlines of the objects in the world and is extremely useful in finding enemy patrols (red), information points and interactive points (yellow), while friendlies are green. You can also access a live 3D map which will also prove to be helpful throughout. By interacting with the Superintendent (your AI assistant) and gathering intel you unlock doors to other parts of the city and in doing so make heading towards objective points a lot more interesting depending on the route you take. Sometimes you’ll be able to cross the city and not come across any Covenant patrols, but other times you’ll have Hunters, Brutes and snipers all over you.{PAGE TITLE=Halo 3: ODST Review page 2}Halo 3: ODST isn’t as much of a sandbox game as it could have been, but having said that it’s not as linear as the previous Halo games. Although there are free-roaming elements, there is still a feeling that you’re being guided through the game to some extent. When you do finally reach your objective points and flashback (and I’m not quite sure whether these flashbacks are for the sake of storytelling or if the Rookie has some kind of super-human spaz that transports him back in time to witness the events) you find yourself in familiar Halo gameplay territory.  After all, you’re still in the same universe, so why shouldn’t it be the same?It’s these flashbacks which introduce you to your team. Each flashback relates to one of the members of your team, and their crash landing story. As you work through these flashback games the team gradually finds each other, but it also gives you the opportunity to get to know the squad a bit better, as well as refreshing your memory of the Halo weapons…all of which are there, with a new incendiary grenade! It’s just a shame you don’t get to know much about your own character, and this is one of the game’s downfalls.As you run around the city looking for clues and flashback points you’re able to listen to the backstory of the city through the voice of a woman called Sadie, a local who’s dictating and documenting the first attacks on the city. That’s really the only voice you’ll hear until you start getting close to the end of the solo campaign. It doesn’t offer any more information, and of course, find all the audio and you’ll unlock an achievement, but this is just a little something more to do in the world if you want to. I did purely because I’m a completist, but I don’t see this being one of the game’s main features as I can see many gamers just ignoring it unless they’re well into their Halo lore.Although the solo campaign isn’t ground breaking, what it does do really well is maintain that Halo feel, and although you’re not playing the Master Chief and you have to make sure your stamina and health aren’t at risk, you do still feel like a hard-ass mother lover.Halo 3: ODST is definitely worth picking up, and even though the solo campaign won’t take you too long to storm through there is still an extremely fun multiplayeere is. You wourpugi theYe s(sldn’t expect anything else. The only real concern I have, and even though I’ve said it’s a been extremely consistent and well thought-out, it just sometimes feels like it should have been split into pieces and fired out as DLC. I think this would have worked better, and with each character and flashback it would have been pretty awesome. But it’s a stand-alone title, and you know what? It’s great to meet the ODSTs.

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