Halo 3: ODST

Halo 3: ODST Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360

Standalone expansion for Halo 3 focussing on the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers.

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9Out of 10
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The VISR is one of the UNSC's new toys, and exclusive to the elite ODSTs.
The VISR is one of the UNSC's new toys, and exclusive to the elite ODSTs.

The VISR is one of the UNSC's new toys, and exclusive to the elite ODSTs.

The problem with the VISR, however, is that it's linked to the Superintendent to such an extent that it often feels as if your hand is being held too tightly. Way points clearly show you where you need to go to find the next flashback clue. They're not pinpointed to the square inch, but they may as well be. Like in EA's flawed gem Dead Space, in ODST you're never in any doubt which way to run to get to where you need to go. You can even press up on the d-pad for a reminder of where to go. You can ignore the Superintendent's help, of course, but on a subconscious level it makes you less inclined to go off the beaten track and simply stumble across stuff, perhaps the greatest joy open world games can bring.

Accompanying the VISR are two new weapons. The new M7 submachine gun is a medium distance weapon great for reducing enemy shields to zero in the blink of an eye. Halo fans, however, will be more excited by the new pistol, the M6C/SOCOM. It's a powerful, incredibly accurate weapon that comes complete with a sound suppressor, a zoom and a rate of fire limited only by the speed of your trigger finger - basically it's the pistol from Halo: CE. It's incredibly satisfying to use, just a complete and utter joy. Dropping Grunts and Jackals with headshots from ODST's pistol is thrilling. Using the SMG to wear down a Brute's armour then, the millisecond before the clip runs out, switching to the pistol to drop him with a headshot, is the stuff of FPS dreams. One of Halo's greatest strengths is how tight and satisfying simply shooting stuff is. ODST's pistol is the pinnacle of that, and is the best video game pistol ever created.

You might think that the night/flashback dynamic, and the differences between the Rookie and Master Chief, would combine to create a very different Halo experience. It doesn't. After half an hour or so, ODST feels just like Halo. No, you can't jump as high or run as fast, but the Rookie's limitations soon become unnoticeable as you get to grips with killing impromptu Covenant patrols that drop unannounced from low-flying Phantoms. The flashback missions feel particularly familiar - they're signature Bungie and classic Halo. There are Scorpion tank road trips down highways, Scarabs to destroy, Banshees to fly, Hunter face-offs, Warthog madness and, of course, Wraiths. There are even one or two comedy moments where you'll find UNSC soldiers talking to themselves - something of a Halo trademark. Put simply, ODST's memorable missions and set pieces mostly feel like more of the same.

Graphically, too, ODST is classic Halo. While the game's art has significantly improved, with some stunning blood red night skies complete with crumbling skyscrapers and billowing smoke clouds, the quality of the graphics overall are as they were two years ago. This isn't surprising given ODST has been built using the Halo 3 engine, and like Halo 3 it displays at just under a 720p resolution. Halo's look is certainly distinct, a colourful, bright style that contrasts Covenant purples with UNSC greys and browns. It doesn't quite match the heights of Gears of War 2 or Killzone 2 of course, but it occupies a unique place – ODST is quintessentially, unmistakeably Halo, and many fans will be delighted by this.

As always, multiplayer is absolutely brilliant.

As always, multiplayer is absolutely brilliant.

Some, though, may have been hoping that Bungie's next Halo game - and remember it's been some two years since the release of Halo 3 - would be significantly advanced not just graphically, but in gameplay terms. The argument will go that ODST is an extension of Halo 3, hence the title: Halo 3: ODST. This argument, however, will again be countered by those who feel the game's campaign is too short - I beat ODST on Heroic difficulty in just over five hours.

Length aside, the campaign is not without other problems. The story is a largely un-engaging affair. The mysteriously silent Rookie is hard to love, and certainly lacks the heroic appeal of Master Chief. His squad mates are classic cliché-ridden space marines, with personalities that aren't explored to any great detail. The plot makes more sense than previous Halo titles, but is still hugely silly. The ending is barmy, and seems as if it should have had a massive bearing on the Halo universe as a whole, but clearly didn't because it's ramifications never came up in Halo 3.

Bungie will point to the hidden BioShock-esque audio recordings (you can listen to them as you continue your exploration) that tell the tale of a young African woman, called Sadie, as she fights to survive the initial Covenant attack on the city as well as rescue her father. The collection of the 30 audio recordings is entirely optional, acting as a sort of meta-story that runs underneath the main plot. You don't have to find them, and to be honest there's little motivation - the voice acting is awful and laughably hammy.

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User Comments

Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu@ Shipo

It's spelt douchebag
Posted 07:26 on 01 October 2009
Shipo's Avatar

Shipo

duchbag
Posted 03:04 on 01 October 2009
Miguel_Zorro's Avatar

Miguel_Zorro

Having now seen enough of this game, I don't think it's good enough - or even close - to be a 9. It's maybe a 7. The criticism that this game has received is justifies. M$/Bungie threw a few levels together, slapped the name Halo on it, and released it - and it worked. This sent entirely the wrong message to the developer. As a result, you can look forward to more shovelware in the future.
Posted 16:52 on 30 September 2009
Shipo's Avatar

Shipo

buy halo3odst youl love it
Posted 02:06 on 27 September 2009
Mr_Ninjutsu's Avatar

Mr_Ninjutsu

Its a shame Microsoft milk it so much but great review.
Posted 22:30 on 26 September 2009
GeNeCyDe1993's Avatar

GeNeCyDe1993

Great review Wes, Completely agree with it all :) as a person who critisized halo before i now am in love with the franchise. This game is really a must buy for 360 owners.
Posted 22:14 on 26 September 2009
Shipo's Avatar

Shipo

: ok heres some the smg changed pistel is faster now and the first missions kinda sad :drool: :crying: :cool: :blink: :thumbup:
Posted 06:51 on 26 September 2009
CRUSH17's Avatar

CRUSH17

great review thanks
Posted 17:54 on 23 September 2009
Endless's Avatar

Endless@ Karlius

i think most people's arguement is that the price tag is too high for people that have already got Halo 3. I personally still think the £30-35 is well worth it even discounting the whole of the original Halo 3 Multiplayer included on the second disc.

There were 3 people queueing with me when i bought my copy who were all buying it, so it seems there aren't enough people complaining to make it unsuccessful.

But the vocal few always love to moan and pick things apart so let them do it I say. We'll carry on enjoying a quality game.
Posted 16:35 on 23 September 2009
El-Dev's Avatar

El-Dev

Was tempted by this, but there's too much else knocking about at the minute to warrant it. Plus I bought IL2 and foolishly a new TV this week so it can go on my Santa list for a bit of light Christmas enjoyment.
Posted 11:41 on 23 September 2009
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius

Well for those that haven't played it and criticised get a grip. Wes your 100% right mate 9 is well deserved especially for someone like me that never played Halo 3.
Posted 10:00 on 23 September 2009
Shipo's Avatar

Shipo

i just got halo3odst
Posted 02:58 on 22 September 2009
Woffls's Avatar

Woffls

Hmm, not sure I'm gonna' read four pages. I know it's a big game an' all, but I'm sure we don't need this much information, especially when the conclusion seems to be pretty close to "Yep, it's still Halo". Though, having not read the entire thing I could be off the mark...

My pre-order should be arriving Tuesday (omg I just realised tomorrow is Tuesday! :D) look forward to giving you all a good thrashing again ;p
Posted 20:15 on 21 September 2009
Endless's Avatar

Endless@ pblive

I got £10 for Halo 3 yesterday in Gamestation. Astounding given some of the 360 games i traded in were worth less and were newer. most of the DS games i tradeded in were worth as much!
Posted 13:12 on 21 September 2009
xboxlive's Avatar

xboxlive

Nice review/nice read,keep up the good work.
Posted 10:44 on 21 September 2009

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Halo 3: ODST
9
Out of 10
Halo 3: ODST
  • The pistol is FPS gold
  • Firefight is brilliant fun
  • Forgettable plot
  • The campaign is short
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 22/09/2009
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Bungie
Publisher: Microsoft
Genre: First Person Shooter
No. Players: 1-16
Rating: PEGI 16+
Site Rank: 2,034 15
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