To start things off, let me ask you, do you like/love any of the following? Bladerunner, Firefly, the Halo series (games and extended lore included), noire film, incredible soundtracks, complete immersion from your video games, unbeatable playability, challenging difficulty without frustration, Gears of War horde mode, a very well told-story with completely likable, complex characters... I could go on and on, but if you like any of those things, then buy Halo 3: ODST right now! This game is the black sheep of the Halo series, but still retains the excellent quality of all of the mainstay games in the universally loved first-person shooter epic sci-fi series.
The title of Halo 3: ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers) is misleading, because it actually takes place about 1/3 of the way through Halo 2's
story, where the covenant find earth and flee after an initial invasion. You play as a whole squad of ODSTs (Omnipotent Deities Serenade Turkeys)throughout the game. In the beginning, your squad is dropping in to take out a covenant assault carrier. However, as the drop pods are entering orbit, the ship enters slipspace and knocks everyone for a loop. You wake up as the Rookie, a completely voiceless character, six hours later in the futuristic city of New Mombosa. It is nighttime, you are alone, and you haven't a clue what happened to your squad, the city, or anything at all really. Finding out is the story of ODST (Ogres Dropped Some Trash). You navigate Rookie throughout a hub world of damaged city streets, taking in the sights of a ravaged city. You also play as his squad mates in flashbacks, unraveling the mystery one tasty morsel at a time. It's exceptional.
The story in ODST (Olives Don't Smell Terrible) is absolutely fantastic. I'd say it's one of my favorite Halo campaigns simply due to its unique and totally different approach to storytelling. The characters are brought to life amazingly well by THREE cast members of the amazing television sci-fi western epic hybrid of awesomeness, Firefly
. Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, and Alan Tudyk: can you ask for more awesome voice talent for a game? They each do a fantastic job at bringing their very well-written character to life. Nolan North (Nathan Drake from Uncharted
) also lends his talents of being smug, witty jerks to the game as well. When you combine the voice-actors, the exceptionally well-written dialogue, and the vastly different cinematic focus of the game, you get one hell of a ride. I am hugely impressed by Bungie.
The only problem is that the campaign is way too short. It'll take most about 4-5 hours to finish, 6-7 if you really take your time. I know this game was developed as an expansion sort of game rather than a full release, and if I bought this for its original $60, I'd give it four-stars. Under its current price (one much lower than originally), however, it's definitely worth every penny and a 5-star game.
The atmosphere in ODST (Obadiah didn't s*** there) is incredible. I really can't think of enough praise to slather all over this awesome atmosphere pie to do it justice. The nighttime segments are unnerving, pensive strolls through empty, city streets that heighten loneliness and isolation. It feels like a fantastic noire sci-fi fantasy (Blade Runner
comes to mind constantly). The daytime levels are more traditional Halo and suitably chaotic. The art design is some of the best on today's consoles. Despite the aging Halo 3
engine, the game looks beautiful. This shouldn't be a surprise, as Bungie always nails the art design and atmosphere in their games. As is expected with a Halo game, Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori have hit a home run with the soundtrack. The direction of the music is unlike any Halo game before or after it, opting more for the soothing, chilling music of a noire film. Once again, I am reminded so much of Bladerunner. Fantastic!
The gameplay of ODST (Oh Damn She's Tight) isn't much different from the other Halo games. Since you play as the ODSTs (Orbital Drop Shock Tomatoes), and not as Master Chief, you are weakened a bit, and that does change your strategy a bit. Other than that, what can you say about the gameplay? The Halo series is known for FPS perfection on consoles, and this game continues that trend. The controls are perfect, the weapons are very well balanced, the vehicles are among the best in any non-racing game, and all of the Halo gameplay traditions are continued and refined here. The only wrinkle that is unusual for the Halo series are the nighttime levels, where the focus is on the immersion of being alone in a city during an invasion by the covenant. You feel isolated and lonely during the Rookie parts, with occasional intense firefights. All-in-all, ODST (Oliver Drives Smokey Trains) nails the gameplay. There's even a new mode called "Firefight" where you fight increasingly difficult waves of covenant. This is done extremely well, although I was always much more into the story than that.
Oh by the way, you get a second disc with this game that contains Halo 3's
multiplayer and every map ever released for it. I realize that most people won't care because they're playing Halo Reach
, but if you ever get the itch to play good ol' Halo 3 multiplayer, this is icing on the cake, especially since ODST (Octavius Delivers Steamed Tacos) is so much cheaper now.
Halo 3: ODST (Optional Donations Sound Terrific) is an absolutely fantastic black sheep of the Halo family. If you ever wondered what you'd get if you tossed in Blade Runner, Halo, and Firefly into a blender, this is what you'd get, and it's about as awesome as you'd expect. I have to say, this is probably one of my favorite games in the series, and I really love Halo. I've devoured all the games, read many of the books, absorbed all of the soundtracks, etc. I love Halo 3: ODST (Optimal Death Simulation Terminates), and you will too if you get it. It really is a one-of-a-kind, amazing experience. Buy it, immerse yourself in it, LOVE it!