Monday, October 26, 2009

Xbox 360 - Halo 3 ODST

Halo 3 ODST by Bungie / Microsoft

ODST stands for Orbital Drop Shock Troops (or Troopers). These troops were part of the elite guard just behind the Spartans (Master Chief from Halo 3). The ODST are deployed in other parts of the fight separately from the Spartans. Spartans are deployed to work on mission critical operations (usually alone).

Therefore, Halo 3 ODST is a side-by-side sequel to Halo 3. This means that what's going on in ODST happens at the same time as the stories from Master Chief in Halo 3.

Campaign Story

Your character is deployed as an ODST. As you progress through the game, you will play as several different characters in the game. As an ODST, your armor is not nearly as strong as a Spartan. But, it's reasonably strong and recovers fast from gun fire.

The story is told after-the-fact with your character finding artifacts that trigger flashbacks. As the flashbacks occur, you get to play as other ODST from their perspective of what happened. After the flashback is over, you're back in the present holding the object you examined that triggered the flashback.

While this storytelling technique is good for cinema (because of the fast pacing), inside a video game this storytelling technique gets jumbled and is a bit disconcerting. The pace the game plays also leads to issues with these flashbacks. Personally, if I had been designing this game I would have done it as a straight forward first person shooter without all the cinematic gimmickry. Needless to say, once you understand the perspective and the flashback system, you get used to it and understand what it is and where the story is going.


The game plays pretty much identically to Halo 3 with the exception that your ODST armor is far weaker than a Spartan. To make up for this, there are a reasonably generous supply of Optican health pickups on most levels. You can also regenerate your armor by ducking behind something. Although, I remember hearing long before release that there wouldn't be any shields at all, but I guess Bungie changed that idea or the rumor was incorrect. As for controls, if you're familiar with Halo 3, you'll fall right into ODST's controls.

Audio / Music

The music is serene and calming. The designers choose to use orchestral and synth mixes that are light, simple and dramatic. A lot of games like to throw heavy metal at you in charged scenes, the Halo 3 franchise has never done this.. including ODST. I wouldn't say that music is cinematic, but it works for the environments.

Packaging / Extras

The game ships with two disks. Unlike Halo 3 which contained both the multiplayer and the campaign game on one disk, Halo 3 ODST has split this up into two disks. The first disk is campaign mode. The second disk is multiplayer mode. The first disk also contains the 'firefight' mode which is effectively your character against AI monsters in a multi-player type level. You get points for each enemy you kill and you have a limited number of lives in which to do this. So, this gaming mode is primarily for high score points.


I am not a big fan of multiplayer level portions of most games. ODST is no exception. So, I rarely get into this part of the game. Mostly the reason I avoid this is that I don't enjoy being constantly shot by some kid who feels the need to target one person over and over. While I understand the reasoning behind putting this game portion onto the second disk, I don't generally play or review these sections as they get boring really fast. Mostly the reason I don't review them is that they are pretty much all the same. Pick a level and then play one of several games: Capture the Flag, Bomb the Base or free-for-all kill fest (death match). Once you've played these types of levels, you've pretty much played them all. So, it's very difficult to review this in an objective way multiple times. Suffice it to say that if you enjoy this part of the game, it's here.


The game progresses in the present with your character wandering through a mostly deserted area looking for anything important and trying to get out of there. As flashbacks, you are an ODST who just dropped. So, the game plays off of the early part of the drop against the last part of the drop.

I found the game reasonably easy. Easier than I expected and easier than Halo 3. It is reasonably well done, but I think it felt a little too familiar and safe. I wish that Bungie had done something more daring with this game to give it something unique.

Overall, I was disappointed with the end result of the campaign level, However, it was close to as much fun as Halo 3. Although, there doesn't appear to be any skulls to be found in Campaign mode (at least not on the Normal hardness). I was hoping for a more unique experience. That didn't pan out. I also felt the levels seemed a bit too small overall. I liked the more expansive qualities of Halo 3's levels.

  • Sound: 9/10 (better than average)
  • Graphics: 8.5/10 (good, but a bit too much bloom)
  • Gameplay: 9/10 (like Halo 3)
  • Story: 7/10 (original, but not perfect)
  • Bugginess: N/A
  • Controls: 9/10 (average for the Wii)
  • Bang-to-buck: 7/10
  • Play Value: $35 (rent it or buy it used)
  • Overall: 8/10

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