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Xbox 360 Review: Halo 3 ODST

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This was a game that I was not very excited about. I thought it was going to be a re-hash of Halo 3. I assumed Bungie simply released this game to appease all the crazed Halo junkies who still haven’t found something to dull their addiction in the nearly two years since the release of Halo 3.

To put it simply, I was wrong. ODST is a totally different game. Playing it doesn’t feel like a few more levels stapled to the end of the Halo 3, as I first assumed it would, but rather an entirely different game built with the Halo 3 engine.

The story takes place between the second and the third games. During the second game, the Covenant discover the location of Earth and begin an assault. The humans are able to fight off most of the attack, but a single ship is able to hover above New Mombasa. As the ship escapes into slipspace a shockwave is created and part of the city is destroyed. The ODSTs (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers) who were dropping onto the Covenant ship were blown off course by the shockwave and land in the midst of a massive battle in a nearly destroyed New Mombasa, which is where this game puts the player and where it situates its two main playable features, Campaign, and Firefight. 

In Campaign the player is a rookie ODST who has lost the rest of his squad, but is also played as the aforementioned squad. Gameplay switches between the two styles each level. The contrast allows for two very different feels and works well.

Rookie levels are played at night. They take place 6 hours after the squad has moved out and the character explores the seemingly deserted city. The city is filled with signs of a massive battle that took place just prior.  The Squad levels, in contrast, are played in bright daylight. The sun is up and the city is filled with the Covenant. Players invade the city alongside hundreds of other ODSTs.

The game plays a lot differently than Halo 3, and the main difference is the health. In ODST, players don’t have a regenerating shield like Master Chief. The player has two forms of health. When taking damage, your fatigue is drained, actual health only goes down after you are fully fatigued. This adds a different aspect to every encounter and as a result, small arms pose little to no threat as long as one is given enough time to recover.

What really makes ODST fun is Firefight. Firefight is a mode where a player and up to three friends can take on an unending stream of covenant attackers. The enemies are dropped off in waves, which make up rounds, and rounds in turn make up sets. As one fights they can earn medals, which will boost their score, and make endless killing manageable and even fun.

There is a noticeable difference in graphic quality between this game and it's predecessor. Most of the blues and purples are traded for browns and greens, which is certainly welcome.  Along with the change in color comes a loss of many of the sci-fi aspects, but it makes for a more enjoyable game nonetheless.

A beautiful score accompanies the campaign which really helps to immerse the player. The music is everything you would expect from a full-length Halo title.

Halo 3: ODST also comes with a copy of all the multiplayer maps ever released for Halo 3, and three new maps including a remake of Midship from Halo 2. This might feel like you’re paying for the same thing twice if you already have bought the maps as DLC, but the bundle is worth it either way and if one hasn't yet downloaded the maps this is an even better deal.

Halo 3: ODST is one of the most fun multiplayer game I’ve bought in a long time. If anyone has played and enjoyed Halo 3 either online or with some friends they should definitely pick up a copy of this title.  It is worth the $60, and really shines as more than just an expansion. Delay no longer, head to your nearest Halo dealer and prepare to drop.

Halo 3: ODST is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for blood, language, and violence.

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About Aaron Gayle