A couple of weeks ago, Worst Buy was running a buy 2 get 1 free promotion on video games. And even though these days I have nothing but clients who don’t want to pay me, this was a deal I couldn’t pass up. After much deliberation I ended up getting Halo 3: ODST, Borderlands and some other game that I can’t remember at the moment that was also $59.99… Oh yeah! – Tekken 6.
So after finishing up Tekken 6’s achievements, and finishing up Prince of Persia‘s achievements, I thought it’d start a nice “change of pace” game in the form of Halo 3: ODST. You know, a palette cleanser as it were before I jumped into the fray with the likes of Assassin’s Creed (which I still haven’t opened) and Master Ninja on Ninja Gaiden II (which I’m dreading like the plague).
I Know I’m a Bit Behind
So if you know anything about me, you know that I have a pension for starting games that everyone else finished a long time ago. I think “what had happened” was that I was playing Ninja Gaiden II forever since it has achievements that make you beat the game only using one of its seven weapons one at a time. Obviously, that kind of put me back a bit in keeping up with the new stuff. Sometimes though it turns out to be a good thing because when it’s time for for me to buy “new games”, I end up getting them for $39.99 or more often, $19.99… Which is all to say that I know ODST came out a while ago and once again I’m late to the party.
Halo 3: ODST Story
Before I started ODST, I really didn’t have an idea of what I was in for so much as the story went. I pretty much gathered that it wasn’t a “new” addition to the Halo stuff in that it took place on Earth during the invasion by the Covenant and now after playing through the game, I can tell you that’s exactly what’s going on…
You basically control different members of an elite squad of soldiers known as ODST or Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. Outside of the intro, I don’t think the the fact that you’re ODST ever means anything in the game but it’s kinda cool nonetheless. Kind of like you’re a member of the SEALs or something. Anyhoo, during the course of the game your squad gets separated and you have to fight to get reunited all the while seeing the action in one particular city from very different points of view.
Halo 3 ODST Gameplay and Presentation
This is Halo. It feels like Halo and it plays like Halo. If you’ve played Halo 1-3, you know what’s up. Fortunately, the game designers has the opportunity to do some different things with game presentation (since there’s no Master Chief) and in my opinion they really did a good (and in some places) a great job with it. Like I said before, the game is told through the experiences of essentially 4 different soldiers. And when one story ends another picks up… Kinda. For instance, at the end of a level that you play through as “The Rookie”, you’ll pick up say a bent sniper rifle at the end of the level and then the next level will have you play through as another solider that ends up bending up that rifle you previously found whereupon you resume the game as “The Rookie”. I dunno, at the beginning of all these back and forths, it was a bit confusing… But then it started to be pretty cool.
Oh, and one think you have to give props to the Bungie people on was all of “The Rookie” levels. Most of them have him going through the city at night, and when he’s doing so there’s hardly (if ever) any music playing. Instead you get really awesome environment sounds such as police sirens, phones ringing, metal dragging on dumpsters and rain in the distance. As you’re reading this I’m sure you’re wondering what the big deal is but let me assure you that when they’re the only things you hear and for a few stretches you don’t even see any enemies, it’s just a real treat (especially if you have a halfway decent surround sound system). They really play like nothing else you’ve previously seen as far as the Halo games go, and walking around at night, only hearing these things and then stumbling into constant Covenant patrols… You just really get the feeling like you have no help… The Covenant are taking over and that you’re basically screwed. Very very cool.
Firefight – Yeah, it’s Horde Mode
So Halo 3 ODST does provide a new mode in the guise of Firefight which (for all intensive purposes) is Halo’s Horde Mode from Gears of War 2. You fight wave after wave of Covenant on various maps, either alone or with up to 4 people co-op. And let me tell you, It’s JUST LIKE Horde Mode except that I find Horde Mode much more fulfilling for basically two reasons. Numero Uno: I don’t know that there’s an end in Halo 3’s Firefight. In Gears it’s Level 50 right? You’ll find that without some “end” to shoot for, you might find yourself around the 45 minute mark wondering why you’re still playing. And for Numero Dos: You cannot save your progress in Firefight. Can you imagine trying to play Horde mode from level 1 to 50 without the ability to start at a level you’ve previously cleared? This point is driven home when you go for the 200,000pts in Firefight achievements that will probably have you playing for 60-90 minutes easy. It sucks.
And on the Subject of Achievements…
Outside of the Firefight achievements, I really like the ones in this game. They’re not all tied to multiplayer and not all tied to Live and most importantly, they’re achievements that you can get with a little work and patience. Again, the only gripe I have on the Achievement side of the ball is directed towards the Firefight ones… Instead of making you score 200,000 pts in Firefight, I would’ve loved to see those at 100,000 esp with the Achievements only worth 5 pts each. And because it’s often you vs TONS of Covenant in open spaces, I would’ve loved some achievements for Killtaculars and Killtrocities or something since you can definitely get them with a little work… Or getting so many points in the bonus rounds.. I just feel like they could’ve come up with some better ones if took 5 minutes to think about it.
Overall Conclusion (No Halo 3 Flood = WIN)
I have to say, I bought this game basically because there was nothing else I wanted at the time and didn’t want to waste a good deal but I’m actually really happy with the game! Before playing it, I really thought of it as nothing more than an overpriced expansion to the main game and even though it doesn’t add anything new as far as weapons or gameplay – It DOES tell a new story in the Halo universe that plays and feels differently than anything else preceding it.
Furthermore, I don’t think that there have been any other characters in the Halo universe that have as much personality as the ones in this game – Def not Master Chief and prob not even that black guy that orders him around all the time (Sgt Johnson I think?). Maybe it’s because you get to see these guys faces a lot more or maybe it’s because they’re just so much more human than Master Chief. Whatever the reason, I’m really sure. BUT I just feel like this game has more heart than anything else in Halo – Which admittedly might not be saying much, but proves to be enough to carve out a nice little place for ODST amongst the other Halo games.