by Keaton Arksey
reviewed on X360
New features (cntd)
Aside from the new protagonist, Halo 3: ODST is different from Halo 3 in several ways. The most obvious fact is that, since you are no longer the Master Chief, you won’t have some of the perks a Spartan would have over a regular soldier. You don’t regenerate health, instead you have stamina (basically shields), that, when depleted, will result in shots damaging your health bar. You regain health by finding health pick-ups throughout the city and levels. ODSTs will also take damage if they fall from too high a height. The troopers do have some advantages over Spartans however. Along with the aforementioned visor, which allows you to see and take out enemies in the dark, ODSTs have access to some unique weapons. The silenced SMG is basically what it sounds like, a Sub-Machine Gun with a 2X scope and silencer. Making a return to its former glory during the Halo 1 days, the pistol remains an effective tool for headshots with its 2X scope and armor piercing rounds. Popping Grunts in the head with the pistol is still as satisfying today as it was seven years ago. Other than that, it is still the same 30 seconds of great gameplay repeated over and over again.
The campaign takes about six hours on the Heroic difficulty, which, if you are familiar with the Halo games, won’t be too aggravating. The story isn’t too earth shattering, but readers of the novels will be happy to see Engineers finally make their FPS debut. There is a story within a story worth noting. “Sadie’s Story” is a collection of 30 audio logs spread throughout the streets of New Mombasa that detail the life of the civilian population when the Covenant invade. It is entirely optional, but in many ways it surpasses the campaign story with a very emotional tale.
The big multiplayer addition to Halo 3: ODST is Firefight mode, a co-op mode for up to four players. In Firefight you take on wave after wave of Covenant troops, starting from several Grunts and Jackals and ending with Hunters and Brute Chieftains (the ones with the giant hammers). The same scoring system from co-op is used, with more points being awarded for scoring headshots, melee kills, going on killing sprees, and of course difficulty. Firefight is split up into waves, rounds, and sets; five waves in a round, and three rounds in a set. At the start of every round, a new skull is activated. These are the same skulls as in the campaign and Halo 3, with Tough Luck (which makes enemies dodge grenades and slower-moving projectiles easier) being activated first. At the start of every round, a new skull will be activated, making it that much harder to survive. For example, the second round adds the Catch skull, making enemies throw grenades more often, or Black Eye where you must melee enemies in order to regain health. If you’re not careful, things can get really hectic around the second round, when grenades start getting thrown everywhere. Ammo and health drops are also replenished after every round.
Firefight mode is incredibly fun. It has a selection of 10 maps, all with unique features like starting weapons or vehicles. There is no matchmaking however, so you will have to play with friends or alone. That being said, on higher difficulty levels covering each others backs becomes very important, or your team will never make it past the first few rounds and matches can last over an hour. If you love Halo and have a group of friends ready to play, Firefight will have you coming back for months on end.
Included on a separate disc in the Halo 3: ODST package is Halo 3 Mythic, the complete Halo 3 multiplayer experience. Every map, from disc and downloadable is included, as well as three exclusive maps that can only be found there. Heretic is the remake of fan favorite Midship from Halo 2, Longshore is perfect for objective based games like One Flag or big team games, and Citadel is a small, balanced map for four to six players. If you haven’t purchased Halo 3 or any of the DLC and have no interest in the story what so ever, it is definitely a welcome inclusion. It even includes Forge and Theater modes, carrying over any map or game variants you may have downloaded from Halo 3. A multiplayer beta for the mysterious Halo Reach is included as well, and will be accessible through the Halo 3: ODST main menu when it launches in the spring.
Presentation wise, the menus are similar to those from Halo 3. You can switch from Campaign to Firefight to Theater quickly while remaining in the same party. The classic Halo theme has been abandoned in Halo 3: ODST, instead the soundtrack is more moody and atmospheric depending on the situation. It fits the game perfectly, with some truly astonishing piano and saxophone pieces it gives the game a more human tone.
What you get out of Halo 3: ODST is almost entirely up to you. If you are a fan of co-op modes, Firefight is sure to suck a large part of your time. Halo 1 fans can rejoice in the fact that the pistol is back and the gameplay is similar. Multiplayer fanatics will be pleased to find everything you love from Halo 3 is back, and offers the definitive experience with every map. Halo 3: ODST is a tremendous amount of fun, and a welcome addition to the Halo universe.
Great atmosphere, art style and music, a return to the halcyon Halo 1 days.
Campaign is a bit short, graphics beginning to show age.