Halo 3: ODST Review
By Josh Vance

ODST stands up well, even without the Chief
Halo ODST right out of the box is a very worthy addition to the Halo universe.  It manages to keep the overall feel of Halo, while taking on a style all its own.  The first thing players must notice is that you are no longer the Mjolnir armor sporting Master Chief.  This time around you are under the helmet of an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper.  These highly trained soldiers fit exceptionally well into the brute, jackal, and grunt ridden battlefields, though they can’t take the punishment of a grizzled Spartan.  With this change in class comes a slightly different style of gameplay than we are used to with recent Halo games.  The regenerating shield is still in place; however, the player now needs to seek out medkits in order to refill their health.  This hearkens back to the feel of the original Halo: Combat Evolved and is a welcome element that adds an interesting degree of difficulty to the game.  The graphics are crisp, clean and presented well, though ODST isn’t attempting to push any limits and boundaries in that aspect.

The weaponry of this game is basically the same familiar guns that we all know and love from the first three Halo games, which is in no way a bad thing.  Two new additions are added this time around though.  A silenced SMG and pistol with an extended zoom function have been added to your trooper’s inventory.  Both guns feel very smooth and balanced, while also adding that reminiscent feeling of the first Halo—especially with the nice, zoomed in pistol.  Also new in ODST is that your visor comes equipped with a low-light vision mode that illuminates the battlefield and outlines all objects and enemies. Friendlies will be outlined in green, and enemies in red, to help bring death more easily upon your covenant foes.  This feature is very helpful when playing through those darker levels, though if you attempt to use it in the daylight you’ll only find yourself blinded by a white and fuzzy screen.

The campaign albeit a short experience, was a satisfying one.  You will play as several different characters as you attempt to rejoin your separated and stranded squad.  It is basically divided into two sections.  You will play one half of the storyline in the exploits of the scattered Helljumpers, while the other follows a lone rookie trying to piece together the events of his lost squadmates.  The missions following the grouped troopers are heavily action based and stick to true Halo form.  The rookie’s missions, however, all take place at night and are more about exploration and finding the clues of his separated team, though several baddies will block your route along the way.  I found myself plowing right through this single player with all the addicting appeal that a Halo game delivers.  As always, it is just so satisfying to get a headshot on the pathetic grunts that scamper about yelling their inane randomness.  The campaign really picks up as it nears the end and leaves the player wanting more after it is over.  This is its biggest problem.  The campaign feels great and is a lot of fun, but it is too short to be worthy of any great praise.

Luckily ODST comes with two other features that will add endless hours to its life.  First off is the new mode Firefight.  This is very similar to Gears of War 2’s Horde Mode.  Basically you hole up in a map with three of your most gun savvy friends and try to survive for as long as possible.  Firefight is divided into three sections which are: waves, rounds, and sets.  Each wave is a dropped off contingent of covenant troops that want nothing more than your extermination.  Five waves make up a round and three rounds make up a set, essentially fifteen rounds of angry aliens for you to massacre.  As the rounds progress a different skull is lumped onto the equation making it harder for you and your buddies to survive the covenant onslaught.  This is an extremely addicting game mode and one that will keep you busy for quite some time as you attempt to conquer each individual map.  My main beef with Firefight is that there isn’t a matchmaking system in place for it on xbox live.  It’s a friends only session that you host with your online pals or via split screen and system link.  This takes away from the appeal and longevity a bit for those without many available friends to play with.  Aside from that, Firefight is an awesome experience; even if the idea may have been borrowed from Microsoft’s other blockbuster shooter.

Lastly, the game comes coupled with a complete, stand alone version of the Halo 3 multiplayer.  This is outstanding for those that may have sold their copy of Halo 3 and felt regret for that decision, or someone in my shoes where my copy got a crack in it along the way and became unplayable.  Also every map available for download is included in this addition along with the map editing Forge, and all the other goodies linked to the Halo 3 multiplayer.  So for those looking to get back into the Halo 3 multiplayer experience, this is the definitive copy to have.  It links the same as the original to your stats on bungie.net and now there will be a new set of stats for all of your Firefight exploits.  So for any true Halo fan looking for their newest fix, this will satisfy your appetite for awhile.  With the open invitation to the Halo Reach beta coming next year built into the menu, it is a worthy gaming purchase worth holding onto. 8.75/10

Graphics: 8.75
Sound: 10
Gameplay: 9
Story: 8.75

Multiplayer: 9.5
Presentation: 9
Replay Value: 9
OVERALL: 8.75/10