Genre: First Person Shooter Developer: Bungie Publisher: Microsoft Classification: MA15+ Release Date: 21st Sep 2009 Platforms:
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Halo fans need not apply - this review will only serve to infuriate you, each word reading like a punch in the face as I pick apart what is probably your "Game of the Year". Odds are good that you've already purchased the game, gotten 100% of the achievements and you've already marked it down as another successful chapter in the greatest series known to man. So just hit Back on your browser button and save yourself the rage blackout.
Because Halo 3: ODST is an average game. It's an almost deliberately average game. The game's claim to fame is some of the best use of sound ever - and I'm not just talking about the hilarious ANZAC accents of the grunt UNSC troopers. Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Drive, Buffy and Dr Horrible's Sing-along Blog) voices the main (talking) character and he's backed up by Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Chuck, Full Metal Jacket) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly *a pattern emerges*, Dollhouse and Dodgeball) - plus non-Firefly alumni Tricia Helfer (Burn Notice, BSG). The actors put a lot of emotion into their work with the game, and it pays off - the dialogue is the second best part of the game.
The best part is the absolutely amazing use of background music throughout the game. Since the beginning of the series Halo's music has been above and beyond what we've typically seen from video games, and Halo 3: ODST is no different, adding an amazing amount of depth to the pacing of the game - pacing which, for all intents and purposes, wouldn't exist otherwise thanks to lacklustre writing and unimaginative gameplay.
At it's core ODST is still a Halo game like any other. The fact that you are an ODST trooper instead of the Spartan Armour wearing Master Chief makes little difference gameplay wise - instead of losing your shield when shot you lose 'stamina'. Once you've lost enough stamina you begin to lose health - lose enough health and you die. You can search around for health packs to replenish your life if damaged, and if you stay out of combat long enough your stamina replenishes itself.
If you haven't played a Halo game before, you're looking at a First Person Shooter where you play an ODST - an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper - in the city of New Mombassa as the Covenant (the alien race intent on destroying Earth) attacks and invades. Unlike in previous games, your mission isn't to save humanity - rather you have the job of simply killing as many Covenant as possible. Or so it seems at the beginning of the short story that is ODST.
Instead of only playing as one character you play the game through the eyes of everyone on your ODST squad, through some sort of telepathy which isn't actually explained at all. You start the game as silent protagonist "The Rookie", a person who apparently has the ability to see the last 30 minutes or so of a person's life if he touches an object which is vaguely related to them. Through this plot device you get to see the other members of your team - Buck (Fillion), Dutch (Baldwin), Mickey (Tudyk) and Romeo (Uncharted's Nolan North) all tell their stories via this ESP style.
The story itself isn't very strong anyway - sort of an afterthought to having you cavort about an "open" New Mombassa. As the world opens up, you as The Rookie are supposed to be able to choose which missions you do and in what order you do them - or at least that is the impression given. You investigate the sites your team mates have visited, looking for clues as to where they went next using ESP - at one point you're given four different locations to choose from to continue the story.
This is simply the illusion of choice however - you can't make it to the other locations before you've completed them in sequence. It makes sense from a story-telling - and probably game balance - point of view but it seems like lazy writing and destroys the illusion. Speaking of destroyed illusions - the graphics in the Halo 3 engine are starting to age - they're not looking so crash hot any more. Texture resolutions are low - not remarkably noticeable when the troops are wearing their helmets, but when they take them off it's startling.
A quick word on Firefight mode - Bungie could have simply ripped Horde mode from Gears of War 2 and called it a day and most Halo fans would have lapped it up anyway. Instead, Firefight mode sits alongside the game's Audio as one of the solitary situations where the team working on ODST wasn't just on Auto-pilot during development.
The long and short of it - you're placed in a closed off Arena and pitched against wave after wave of Covenant. The challenge is simply to last - the odds are always against you as you run low on ammunition, health packs or lives. ODST takes this a step further by randomly introducing a new handicap at the start of each round. These include one which has almost all the enemies constantly throw grenades at you, another which forces you to melee your enemies to replenish health. It's actually a lot of fun - even more so when playing with friends in co-op.
As it is, Halo 3: ODST doesn't seem like a worthwhile purchase for anyone - not even hardcore fans. The crazy Halo 3 fans will already own 90% of the multiplayer maps included with ODST, meaning they'll pick up three whole maps for their RRP $99. They'll also get an extremely short singleplayer campaign and Firefight mode - Bungie could have released Firefight as a DLC pack for Halo 3, released a second map pack including the three new maps and skipped the singleplayer campaign, although I'd genuinely miss the music and the voice acting. The core gameplay of ODST is decidedly average - as such it earns a decidedly average score.
Unlike the official review who is completely biased obvious he is a ps3 fan boy, but can't blame him. This game sold 1.9 million copies very quickly. The average for high production value games is 6-8 thousand copies. H mm lets compare those 2 figures shall we? Dead space sold around 7 thousand.
The original reviewer obviously calls every one who has played the halo series biased, How dare you disregard the opinions of 1.9 million people. The entire series immerses you so much into the story line, Wtf is this about kill as many covenant as you can bull? I don't know what the hell you where doing on those night mission. You are supposed to avoid the covenant , I guarantee you this guy played the game on easy and bum rushed all the missions.
The game gives you objectives. Killing covenant never has any bearing on the objective, There are ways around them and only when you are detected must you fight. I cant remember how many times i slipped behind those stupid brutes.
As i said before if you play the game on heroic, the way its meant to be played you will see a game that immerses you so much that you are left dripping with emotion, and no idea about where to put it all. The story of halo is one of the largest and most in depth of any sci fi text, Compare able to the depth of stargtate, lets be honest star trek was a bunch of random events with a back drop of that annoying background ship noise. all though enterprise was a good series.
anyway back to the point. Halo is a very deep game it has novels, and a horde of devout followers.
The halo 3 community was estimated to be 60% of the entire ps3 net play community.
If you haven't bought it yet it will just be another one of those things you look back on and say " damn i wished i played that game back then".
Its not about what is said in the odst story its what is left unsaid , the undertones which the original reviewer obviously had no interest in. This game will be looked at in a few years from now after halo reach enjoys enormous unit sales, As another brick on the halo experience.