Halo 3: ODST Review

September 27, 2009

Some years ago game ‘expansions’ were common fare, released to add more story or maps to a popular game and normally retailing for less, it was like getting a straight to DVD sequel to your favourite film except, you know, not shit.

But nowadays we rarely get retail expansions, with most games being supported through smaller DLC packs, but ODST feels like one of these releases of old, to Halo 3 what Opposing Force was to Half Life, except it carries the same price tag as its predecessor… Ho hum.

Enemies like Hunters and Brute Chieftans are more formidible foes for the squishy ODST's

So the ultimate question is whether or not it’s worth full whack. Short answer is yes, long answer is if you enjoy a spot of Halo gameplay then of course it is. The pioneering trio of shooty, hitty, explodey combat is still at its best when engineered by Bungie, not to mention the games iconic and riotous vehicle selection, and while ODST is really a bit of clichéd ‘more of the same’ it’s more of the same of the best, but with some noteworthy improvements.

However improvements is arguably the wrong word as ODST removes and re-introduces elements to the combat, gone is cumbersome dual wielding whilst Halo:CE’s health and pistol make their triumphant returns, with health adding a greater degree of tension to proceedings with the pistol being the most satisfying virtual gun you’ll wield in an FPS this year, the combat of ODST is refined, sleek, and undeniably satisfying.

And of course we’re not playing as Master Chief, instead we fill the shoes of nimble, fragile ODST soldiers in the ruins of New Mombasa, and whilst they have the hitting power of a starved grandmother they come equipped with pseudo night vision, that godly pistol, and a real personality.

The game works like this, you walk around the sometimes annoyingly quiet city at night as ‘Rookie’ looking for evidence of your squad, upon finding these pieces of evidence you play the events leading up to its eventual resting place as the vocal and surprisingly well characterised members of your ODST unit.

Also, the field of vision in ODST is notably wider than Halo 3's, which means when you go back to Halo 3 it feels like playing in a box!

And that’s the most important point, yes the campaign only lasts roughly six hours but the flashbacks are snippets of pure, concentrated Halo brilliance, never as good as Halo 3’s best but never dropping to the series lows, with the characters giving the adventure a personality that Chief and Arbitar could never manage with their gruff, action man personas, this is a group of characters you’ll actually enjoy spending time with.

And spend time you will, sure I was tossing six hours around up there but add to that finding all the ‘audio files’, playing in co-op, re-playing for achievements, and enjoying the amazing, endless fights in the genius Firefight mode then you’re looking at a solid twenty plus hours of entertainment, and if you haven’t purchased Halo 3’s map packs you get all them on a separate disk as well, and that’s more than can be said of most other retail releases.

And that’s ODST, in many ways as good as its source material, in just as many ways improved. An enjoyable and extremely replayable campaign bulked out by a great survival mode and arguably the best FPS system to grace our wonderful medium of video games, don’t let the price put you off, this love letter from Bungie shouldn’t be missed.



One comment

  1. Interesting mate from what I’ve heard from people (and your review). A very well polished but equally unimaginative FPS. Basically its Halo. As I see it, if you like all the others and you have the money (its still comfortably overpriced), go get it. If you didn’t, it won’t change your mind about the whole.

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