The word fan boy gets pushed around a lot these days as gamers get more defensive over their favourite game or console being slated. Some people say I’m a Halo fan boy. This is true, I love the series even from the days when the Xbox was nothing more to me than a black box at my friends’ house. I remember being hooked on the story line of the first, annoyed at how short the second one is and how the third just blew me away with the new Xbox 360 visuals and even better game play and story line. But as quickly as it started it was over and Bungie had decided that the trilogy had been told and so the series was over. But now Halo: ODST takes you into another angle of the game being placed within the second and third chapters of the original Halo story line. We follow a team of Orbital Drop Ship Troopers as they prepare to embark on trying to regain control of new Mombasa.
ODST isn’t your regular run of the mill Halo game either. It’s nice to see that the directors and game designers have added a new twist to how we have perceived the Halo series. ODST incorporates a much darker film noir design. You are no longer the super solider Master Chief, instead you are human and have no special abilities like recharging shields, meaning fire fights are now a lot harder to win when your try and play Rambo. The story line begins with you the rookie dropping into Mombasa aiming to drop onto a Covenant ship with intentions of taking it out. However, during the jump one of your fellow marines, Dare, decides to change the trajectory of the landing zone to miss the ship. As it enters slip space a shockwave blasts the pods. The rookie ends up hitting another pod and knocking himself out for 6 hours. When you regain consciousness it’s up to you to fight your way through the streets of Mombasa and try to piece together the story of what happened to the rest of your team.
The storyline then switches between the rookies actions six hours ahead and that of your fellow teammates six hours before. While the rookies parts are in a much darker and less hostile environment, this allows you to take your time around the city and find areas which hold clues about the main story line plot or other audio samples that you find around the city. This new style of game play for the Halo series works really well and makes for a more interesting game play. There are still enemies for you to fight along the way or you can choose to be more stealthy and avoid direct contact. As well as this it also makes for a lot less of the run and gun play we all know in Halo but allow you to look around your surroundings more. As well as finding audio clues and also the main sections of the games you can also find ammo depots in hidden areas, a few even contain a Warthog for you to use as you drive around the city streets of Mombasa. Contrast to this are the Sections where you replay your teammates actions are set in a much brighter and colour rich scene which we all know and love from Halo.
The graphics of the game are pretty much the same as Halo 3 and due to the short development time I really didn’t expect a brand new graphics style to blow us away. Do remember that Halo: ODST is the first in the Halo line that has taken under three years to make. This also rings true with the AI. While there has been some changes due to the non-linear style of the rookies section, not much has changed which really isn’t a issue.
Once again the sound and soundtrack of the game is stunning. The music is top notch and balances the different scenes perfectly from the tense battle sequences, to walking through the streets of Mombasa trying to find a way of piecing together what has happened.
While the multiplayer is packaged on a separate disc, it includes all of the newest Halo maps which is brilliant, allowing you to jump straight into a match. Again due to the short development time this has been ripped directly from Halo 3.
Like with other Halo games the single player campaign is also available in co-op mode, allowing you and a friend who gives you a extra thinking person rather than a random AI controlled substitute to help you play through the game, which is needed in the harder difficulties. ODST also contains a new co-op mode called ’FireFight’. In this mode players take on wave after wave of varied enemies increasing in difficultly and seeing how long they can last. The FireFight system can be played either over Xbox Live or System Link with up to three other players. The team has a pool of lives which is set to seven. As a player dies, one life is taken out of the pool. But these can be replenished by completing special bonus rounds. The game is over once all the lives are gone and all players are dead. With rewards for getting far and making special kills this feels very much like Gears of war 2’s Horde mode but none the less enjoyable.
Halo ODST is Bungie’s swan song, as while this game isn’t any major improvement for the system and the game, it’s still nice to get some more Halo action and the way the game has been covered is brilliant. The transition from the tense fire fights to the calm and sometimes eerily quiet streets of the rookies sections as you transverse and piece together the storyline is brilliant. It just shows you that the Halo platform has some life left in it as we wait for Reach with fanboy baited breaths.
Halo 3: ODST (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.