75 of 92 people found the following review helpful
New Mombasa by starlight.,
This review is from: Halo 3: ODST - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
First off, that's pronounced Oh-Dee-Ess-Tee, fellow gamers. The game store clerks wish to punch you in the face when you attempt to say a game's acronym as an actual word. Trust me. Anyhow, "Halo 3: ODST" is a separate Haloverse story that strips itself of the series' iconic hero Master Chief. There are no super-powered Spartan cyborgs to pull humanity out of the fire in this one. Just you and your squad of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers standing between the hostile alien alliance known as The Covenant and the death of humanity. No pressure, though. The game was originally formulated as a mere add-on to Halo 3, but eventually grew to full-fledged game status. This has offended a lot of sniveling whiners who ran out and pre-ordered their copies based solely on the typical Halo hype and then sobbed themselves to sleep because they have no concept of story and ran through the game with 3 friends on Easy difficulty and found it too short on action for the money they spent. Real gamers will find that while the price tag may be a bit high if you already paid for all of the downloadable maps and don't gather your friends together regularly to partake in the phenomenally fun "Firefight" mode. But if you plan on enjoying this game to the fullest, you will not be disappointed.
As a single-player game, "ODST" runs a bit short and may be less bang for the buck then one might hope for. However, the manner in which the story is told is absolutely phenomenal. You begin your ill-fated mission hurling towards the Earth (which has just been invaded by Covenant forces) on a special-ops mission. But something goes wrong and your pods are separated and crash in different locations all over the Covenant-occupied African city of New Mombasa. You wake up as a trooper known only as as "the Rookie" many hours after hitting the ground in the dead of night. From there you search the city for clues about the whereabouts of your comrades. Each time you find a clue (such as a fractured helmet or bent sniper rifle) the game flashes back to a different member of the squad and you play out the scenario as that character and witness the events leading up to the object finding it's resting place where it will be discovered hours later by The Rookie. In addition, there is another side story littered throughout the city in the form of 30 audio files that chronicle the adventures of a young girl caught in the middle of the invasion. It's quite enthralling and I found myself looking forward to finding more pieces of that puzzle even more then the main story. "ODST" is a masterpiece of storytelling in that rite and it's why a lot of people won't enjoy it. They prefer to skip past the story segments and run around with their friends teabagging each other along the way. To really experience the game as it's meant to be played, you need to go it alone and absorb the atmosphere,loneliness and ambient noise of the ruined cityscape. Half of this game is enjoying the tension of relying on cover of darkness, using your excellent night-vision visor to it's utmost, hearing the amazing soundtrack, and exploring the city looking for audio files or finding the best ways to get the drop on roving patrols of enemies or the entrenched Covenant forces.
Same old Halo gameplay here. That is to say it's as good as first-person shooters get. But since you are not a Spartan, there are differences. First off, no shield. Your armor can take a few hits before your screen will turn red, indicating that you are fatigued and are taking damage to your health bar. To recover, you must stay out of combat for a time. It's not a lot different from past games, but you can't take quite as much punishment. You also no longer have gravity-defying jumps or one-hit kill melee capabilities, and no more dual-wielding. Don't go jumping off any cliffs either. Wipes your stamina right out. You also get one new Covenant race -whose mystery turns out to be central to the story-, a brand new weapon in the form of a silenced SMG which quickly became a favorite of mine, and the extremely welcome return of zoom capabilities on the pistol. I was hoping for more of a focus on stealth aspects, but Bungie couldn't help but make most of the levels typical shoot-em-ups. This definitely diminishes Master Chief's importance as I felt I kicked as much or more tail as an ODST compared to when I played the penultimate Spartan. But I sure as hell did have a great time doing it. There's also plenty of vehicular mayhem to enjoy. They could have easily recycled the epic score from previous games, but instead they crafted a new one that is as good as any they've done. And that says a lot considering every Halo score is among the greatest in gaming.
Okay, enough about single-player. Games like Gears of War 2 and Left 4 Dead gave us a new mode of gameplay where you are challenged to take on wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemy attacks and survive with a little help from your friends. Not to be outdone, Bungie has crafted their answer in Firefight mode, which can go on for hours at a time if you're good enough. If the campaign wasn't action-packed enough for you, get three buds together and get ready to be dropped in a very defensible position with a set number of lives (more can be gained) to endure endless waves of attack from every baddie in the game. Watch those snipers! The longer you survive, the more difficult the game makes it for you. It will start turning on "skulls" which make the game harder by decreasing ammo drops, empowering enemies, or otherwise making your life harder to keep. This mode is ODST's crown jewel, for sure. They've even added extra kinds of medals for you to earn based on your performance in battle. Firefight is unlimited fun and a FPS fan's co-op wet dream, plain and simple. If that still is not enough, the second disc of the set contains "the complete Halo 3 multi-player experience" which consists of every map ever made for the game and three brand new ones. 24 in all. That is a ton of maps and seeing as they run a few bucks apiece if you download them from Xbox Live that is a large value if you've been holding out. Even if you haven't bought Halo 3, you can join in the fun and madness of murdering complete strangers and then desecrating their corpse while they are forced to watch with all of the extra content using this bonus disc. If you are that guy, then this game is a steal. But I don't know that that guy exists.
Killer story: check. Awesome action: check. Multiplayer badness: check. New additions to the ever-growing Haloverse mythology: check. Incredible soundtrack: check. Yup; this is one fine game. Haters, keep on hating. Bungie gave the hardcore fans a treat with this. I'd have liked to see it priced about $20 cheaper, but I also want my very own Spartan armor and that ain't happening either. The fact is, I'm happy with this game in spite of it's brevity and the fact that I've already purchased most of the maps. If you've no interest in the story and mythology of Halo, I'd suggest you pass on this. The campaign is no challenge with 4 player co-op even on Legendary difficulty and there often are not enough enemies to go around so you will have to look for trouble to find it at times which will enrage many a fratboy. Firefight mode will still be a blast, but one can hardly be expected to shell out $60 for a single gameplay mode. And considering their is no matchmaking on that mode, you can only play it with people on your Friends List which is a pain. ODST isn't perfect, but it's obvious a whole lot of care went into it and it's a great experience all around. Plus, with a dream team cast featuring a Firefly reunion of Nathan Fillion, Alyn Tudyk, and Adam Baldwin plus Battlestar Galactica sex goddess Tricia Helfer and voiceover mainstay Nolan North -who has provided the voice for Deadpool and various other animated comic book characters- who the hell can really complain? It's more Halo, and that's never something to whine about.
4 1/2 stars, rounded up for a new wrinkle in the series.
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 2, 2009 7:25:41 AM PDT
Went through this review real quick. I don't know enough about the game, only played the first one a single time. I guess I'm just not as into games as I once was. But I can tell you this: When I first saw the commercial for this, I turned to my girlfriend and said, "This movie looks freaking awesome!" When I found out it was Halo 3, my intrigue and expectations were sky high. Your review reaffirms that.
In reply to an earlier post on Oct 2, 2009 9:53:41 AM PDT
If you check Youtube, you'll find a killer live-action movie that was made for this. I think they're auditioning potential directors. This may be the franchise that gets taken seriously enough to make a great film.
Posted on Dec 26, 2009 4:04:26 PM PST
I was always curious about this game. I love science fiction games and movies almost as much as I love my wife (well... no, not really; they can't give me a good back rub like she can), so it's safe to say that when I eventually pick up 'Halo: ODST' when funds allow, chance are I'll enjoy it for enjoyment's sake.
Good review, by the way.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2009 11:58:30 PM PST
Thank you, sir. Halo is easily one of the best sci-fi franchises out there. ODST is a nice little stand-alone story, but it would make a lot more sense in context if you played all the games from the beginning. Especially considering how short this one is storywise.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2010 1:39:39 PM PST
Another great review! You've got a hilarious wiseass sense of humor, Trash. Believe it or not, I'm currently playing Halo:Combat Evolved for the first time. I've already played Halo 2, and yes, I'm still in Xbox mode (I haven't exhausted all the great games for it yet! I still have to finish Marvel Alliance!). Anyway, I absolutely love the Halo universe. It's utterly brilliant. Someday I'll get the 360. It's great knowing that there'll be TWO more great Halo games waiting for me.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 20, 2010 10:55:09 PM PST
Thanks, Mr. Boru. I've got reviews for the Ultimate Alliance games up in here as well if they haven't been taken down. That wiseass sense of humor is part of the reason I don't review here anymore. Sometimes they let it slide, and sometimes they won't post my review and when I email the site they tell me to edit it and then find another excuse not to post it. Hey, part of the fun of reviewing to me is putting snarky little jokes in there. If I can't write what I want, there's no point in doing this.
In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2010 5:14:33 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 26, 2010 2:40:19 PM PST
Hey Trashcan, how've things been since we last talked?
Well, I did eventually pick up this game and I actually like it BETTER than the other games. The feel of the first three was one of desparate hopefulness, like there was a risk of humanity being wiped out but you KNEW the big guy was on your side, according to the cameraderie during the cutscenes. This one had more of a sense of sad wistfulness, walking through the deserted streets of a once great city. There was more of a sense of loss. The background music only enhanced that feeling.
Plus the fact that it was a LOT more free-roaming than the other three put together. It gets kind of tedious running down one corridor after another. Y'know what I mean?
Consequently, what did you think of District 9? I personally loved that movie, but a lot of people didn't and I ended up warring with this one idiot, Maxtone Witherball, on several one-star reviews of D9. He was so offended that I didn't back down from his posts that he actually deleted his review and re-submitted it without the comments.
Sore loser, I guess.
PS: Watch it if you DARE to post an opposing view on one of his threads, ESPECIALLY if he discovers that you're a gamer. That'll open the floodgates.
In reply to an earlier post on May 22, 2010 11:22:15 AM PDT
Oh man. I've been out of the Amazon flaming/reviewing biz for a long time now, but you tempt me. You must have really clobbered that guy to make him delete his review. Well done. D9 was an excellent film. It was flawed, but there's not really anything quite like it and it has probably the best live-action mecha battle scene ever. I can tell from your analysis of this game that you have a deeper appreciation for the art behind great sci-fi. Most people think Michael Bay is the greatest master of sci-fi these days. My brother-in-law thinks he should direct the Halo movie. No joke. No big surprise he hadn't a clue what D9 was about. There's no talking to these people, but it's fun to slap 'em around online once in a while. Thanks for the post.
In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2010 1:27:07 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 24, 2010 1:29:35 PM PDT
Yeah, and he wasn't the only one to do that. Billy Bardo deleted his, disappeared and nobody's heard from him on D9 since.
I liked Transformers for nostalgia's sake (and, no, I wasn't offended by his art department's new renditions for both the Decepticons and Autobots, to the point that some people actually sent him death threats on his cellphone), because it brought back memories from 'me younger days', but I think the most subtle movie Bay has ever put out was 'The Island'. The other ones just don't seem right to watch unless you have the requisite drool hanging out of the corner of your mouth.
In reply to an earlier post on May 25, 2010 11:21:05 AM PDT
The Island had the opposite effect on me as most of Bay's fluff. Instead of too many explosions and too much vapid crowd-pleasing, it bored me to death with a story that seems like it could have been told in half the time. It was a great concept, but take away Bay's big dumb boom and he doesn't really seem to know what to do with it. He just can't seem to do right by me. The first TF was pretty enjoyable actually, but the second just cranked up the stupid way too high for me. I won't bother with the third.