Frankenreview: Halo 3: O.D.S.T.

Halo Wars showed us that a Halo game in a different genre can do moderately well without Master Chief, but a first-person shooter? Can O.D.S.T. pull that off?

Master Chief is such an iconic gaming figure that it almost seems wrong to have an FPS with the Halo name on it without him. It's like a Mario game without Mario in it, or a Team Ninja game without breasts. Yet here we are, with a brand-new single-player adventure in the Halo universe with no sign of the big man.

O.D.S.T. began as a little bit of downloadable content that got too big for its own classification, making the leap to full-fledged game. The question is, is it worth its own game, and if so, how are they pulling it off without old MC?

Games Radar Are you hoping for more Halo 3? Are you looking forward to another adventure in that game's grandly exaggerated yet comfortingly familiar universe? Are you excited to wield the same crazy weapons and vehicles in brand new battles, to encounter the same smart enemies in unexpected new situations and to witness the same epic war from an entirely new perspective? Are more missions and more multiplayer enough? If so, then ODST is the answer. You will definitely not be disappointed. But what if you got carried away by the hype? What if that amazing live-action trailer, or that significant September release date, have you convinced that ODST is the next major milestone in the Halo phenomenon? What if the talk about detective characters, film noir settings and gritty close-quarters combat have you anticipating a bold departure from the Bungie formula? Then yeah, you might be in for a bit of a letdown.

Eurogamer Halo 3: ODST does present a compelling alternative to the Master Chief, but the smartest thing about the game is that Bungie faces down this intimidating challenge by realising it cannot do so through one man alone. Although you control the Rookie, a seemingly fresh-faced but faceless new tip of the spear in the battle against the Covenant, the developer prefers to tell the story of New Mombasa through a series of playable vignettes, each of which showcases individual acts of very human heroism on the part of a scattered group of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers.

ActionTrip Halo 3: ODST retains the familiar Halo AI, which we still hold in high regard. Stronger enemies react according to your behaviour and will never rush until they are certain they have the upper hand. Grunts and weaker enemies such as the Jackals lose their nerve in battle if you take out nearby Brutes or other Covenant Chieftains. However, with help of the new VISR (standard addition for all ODSTs) enemy threats are easier to make out. When switched on the VISR allows you to see areas of interest and tell friend from foe. It sounds like it makes things too easy, but thanks to the well-balanced AI the game remains challenging throughout the entire campaign. Also, you'll enjoy the freedom that was given to the main character. Yep, the game is not as linear as Halo 3 or other titles in the series. Now, you can choose where you can go and which opponents to tackle.

VideoGamer Length aside, the campaign is not without other problems. The story is a largely un-engaging affair. The mysteriously silent Rookie is hard to love, and certainly lacks the heroic appeal of Master Chief. His squad mates are classic cliché-ridden space marines, with personalities that aren't explored to any great detail. The plot makes more sense than previous Halo titles, but is still hugely silly. The ending is barmy, and seems as if it should have had a massive bearing on the Halo universe as a whole, but clearly didn't because it's ramifications never came up in Halo 3.

Worth Playing Aside from the single-player game (which can also be played through in co-op), Halo 3: ODST also features a co-op multiplayer mode called Firefight. Similar to the Horde Mode in Gears of War 2, Firefight pits four human players against wave after wave of Covenant forces. The waves are randomly generated, though things do get progressively more difficult as you progress due to the skull modifiers. Firefight is a true test of skill, as it doesn't have an ending. Your team simply fights until it is dead. The catch is that you have a shared pool of lives, so one weak link can bring down an entire team. While reviewing the game, we saw some Firefight matches exceed an hour in play time. There's no doubt that this is going to be a popular gameplay mode on Xbox Live.

Kotaku If you want to judge ODST for its fun without worrying about its price and the contents of its case, then know that its campaign hits the peaks of Halo 3 less often due both to its relative brevity and its uneven, experimental hubworld. The campaign can mostly be a joy. Firefight with a group of players is a blast. The main hero may be a bore, but the fiction is at least as interesting as it was in prior Halo games. Bungie's done good this time. That's a victory, even if that's a departure from a series which has often seen Bungie do great.

So there is life beyond Master Chief?


Comments

    I've been playing it most of the night, had a look at the new Mythic maps as well.

    Overall, I've really enjoyed my time with it so far. Only played the Campaign, and even then only done 3 missions. Most of the time has been spent exploring New Mombassa and taking on Covenant forces. The open city really does give you an overwhelming feeling of lonliness and isolation. Its you and no one else against the Covenant.

    I've found a few of the Audio Logs, and yeah...not as big of a deal as you might think. Its an interesting view of the Halo universe through the eyes of civilians, but yeah.

    Overall, Its a twist on the old Halo formula and I think its working well. Looking forward to playing it Co-op and Firefight as well...as thats where Halo's real strength lies, playing with friends.

    Picked ODST up at an EB Games midnight launch last night and here's my views -

    1. Campaign story is kind of lacklustre to me. I've played through 3-4 levels on Heroic. I feel like finishing the campaign will be a task more than the fun it is supposed to be. Maybe it is me not taking this as a totally separate game, but sorry Bungie it just feels like waterdowned Halo 3 campaign and abilities. Once I've completed the campaign I don't see myself playing it again, not even to get that legendary run through.

    2. Switching to Firefight makes me happy, this is the main feature in my opinion. Played a 30 minute multiple round single player and have a glimpse of just how good this is going to be when I invite mates to play Firefight! I still can't help but wonder why we don't have an ODST mode and a standard Halo 3 mode. I just want to carve into it with my existing Spartan Halo 3 abilities but with some adjustment Firefight is totally kick-arse. I miss my BR.

    3. Halo 3 Mythic: I know there will be tons of hours of fun with the news maps. Just plugged them in enough to locate two skulls and have a browse around before I fell asleep. These look well sorted.

    again, this game seems to subscribe to the philosophy of:

    Why make something great when good sells better?

    Maybe it was the copy I was watching but this game looked like balls.
    A mate picked a French copy about a week ago. (well at least the audio was french)
    The overall look of the game seemed cheap and nasty. Boring dull textures, ugly looking enemies that seem to move like they have boulders strapped to their ankles and pudding for brains, clunky player character movement the list goes on.
    It actually looked like it hadn't been finished.
    Does anybody know if some of the code got leaked prior to release?

    I don't know why anyone would complain. Ignore the game. You are paying for the privilege of being under the command of Nathan Fillion. Cheap at twice the price!

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