Review: Halo 3: ODST

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This weekend I wrapped up Halo 3:ODST, the latest game in the venerable Halo saga. If you remember, I wasn't terribly happy with Halo 3. It was something of a letdown from from Halo 2. Sure, it has great multiplayer, but while I enjoy MP I'm much more of a single player guy. I play at odd times and for short intervals typically (which is my primary Warcraft character will take years to hit 85) so I prefer a solid SP experience with an engaging story. Halo:ODST is everything I had wanted Halo 3 to be. Not just one story, but multiple. You play as the rookie member of a squad that has been separated. As you hunt down your squad mates you get to play through their experiences. This gives you multiple narratives that weave together quite well. It also gives you a nicely varied game play. Oh, and to add to that, there is a third storyline told through audio logs that is quite well done as well.

The game plays somewhat like Halo 3 did except that as a much less powerful soldier you have to adjust your strategy. My first game session was quite a shock as I discovered just how much less powerful I was than good ole Master Chief. Once I got used that I enjoyed it quite a bit. I found it slightly more difficult than Halo 3 but never really frustrating.

What really surprised me about this game - besides the incredibly strong story line, was the music. Most of your play time as the Rookie is spent in the city at night. This is after most of the violence has passed (most, not all), and there is a quiet, moody atmosphere not often found in FPS games. Bioshock comes to mind I guess, but I actually think the Halo:ODST pulls off the mood a bit better. The music is incredible. A soft, piano filled melody that is unique. Once I just left the game alone for a good 10 minutes to listen. I've only bought one video game soundtrack before (Kameo) but I think I'll pick up this one as well. (Assuming they sell it - and I'm sure they do.)

I've heard some say the game is short, and perhaps it is, but it felt like a solid amount of game play to me, and again, story wise, it is near perfect. I'm not sure more game time would make sense. And it does come with the complete Halo 3 multiplayer game so if you skipped Halo 3 you can still play the MP version.

I definitely recommend Halo 3:ODST. I wish I could invite my readers to come kill me online, but I'll be wrapping up Sacred 2 next.

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Ryan Vikander posted on 10/27/2009 at 12:47 AM

I restarted the campaign because I haven't picked it up in maybe a month or so, so I wanted to begin from the beginning just so the story is fresh in my mind. But I definitely agree that the story is strong. It is a very different game from the other Halos. This one you can't just go run around with your gun in hand (I still forget that everytime I start a new level). Also the one thing I don't care for as the Rookie is some levels I have a hard time finding the beacon and once was stuck on one level for almost an hour before turning it off because we couldn't move on. Maybe I had missed something previously that wasn't triggering the beacon.

Comment 2 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/27/2009 at 12:53 AM

Ryan, good point on the beacon. That is definitely one negative for the game. I got stuck too - but just for 5 minutes. It's funny- Halo3 also suffered from 'where do I go next' syndrome.

Comment 3 by Ryan Vikander posted on 10/27/2009 at 12:59 AM

I had the same issues with Halo 1. I wondered around the snowy levels for ever trying to find the trigger for the next part. Atleast with ODST it was helpful to know my checklist of items that I needed to do and the waypoints and the map was really helpful.

The thing I like best about Halo 3's campaign is that you can do MP online. We used to run the Halo 3's campaign every Sunday with skulls turned on and scoring on and see who could get the best scores. I don't know it's just a fun twist to a short campaign.

Comment 4 by Usul posted on 10/27/2009 at 6:34 PM

"I wish I could invite my readers to come kill me online"

The best feature of ODST I think is the firefight mode multiplayer. Instead of just killing each other, you and 3 other people can get together to fend off never ending hordes of enemies. It's pretty fun especially because you get to see killtaculars a lot more often :)

Comment 5 by DanaK posted on 10/27/2009 at 7:29 PM

Ray - have you seen Brutal Legend at all? I'd recommend trying that one out. I had a blast playing it SP. It's a mixture of hack n slash, rts, driving, and mmo open world styles.

Comment 6 by Raymond Camden posted on 10/27/2009 at 7:30 PM

I've seen it - but I have to say - it looks pretty stupid to me.