Halo 3: O.D.S.T

October 8, 2009 by Dave Burns  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox 360

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Overview

Title: Halo 3: O.D.S.T

Release Date: October 22nd

Developer/Publisher: Bungie / Microsoft

Genre: First Person Shooter (FPS)

Platform[s]: Xbox 360

Storyline

In a break from the trend of Halo titles you play a Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST) and you specialise in situations too extreme for the average marine.  We begin the game on-board a star ship just outside of Earth’s atmosphere preparing to drop into action to battle with the Covenant as they invade the city of New Mombasa, located in Africa some years from now.  What’s different from other Halo titles is you are Human, no more dual wielding weapons, no more jumping into the sky and more importantly no more health regeneration.  Health is available throughout the game in the form of medical dispensers located throughout the city but they are few and far between so instead of the traditional run and gun method that you are used to with previous titles, you will find yourself taking on more of a stealthy approach.

Now its a pretty hard task summing up the storyline without giving too much away, basically you will have to find your way throughout the city finding clues which provoke flashbacks of your team mates as they were scattered throughout New Mombasa after the drop, these flashbacks however are controlled by you.

Gameplay

As mentioned before the game plays a little different because you are human and you can get hurt very easily, you will find yourself getting killed and returning to check points time after time again!  Other than that the games plays surprisingly well.  I am not a Halo fan and I probably will never be one, I am however impressed by the subtle changes to the system that make the game play fairly differently to any title I’ve touched before from the Halo universe.

From the start I found myself getting nervous before turning every corner or spending ages calculating my route through the city to find my objective, its not that I’m scared of being ambushed by the Covenant, its more to do with the fact that I’m probably going to get my arse kicked into oblivion by the weakest of enemies, this coupled with sparse ammo and health makes ODST different to most games I play, it’s very intense at the best of times and requires a fair amount of planning and a lot of dying.

Graphics

Only minor tweaks have been made to the engine since the release of Halo 3 but the saying goes “If it’s not broke then why fix it?” and I think Bungie have certainly proved this with both Halo 3 and ODST.  Although at times you sit there and think £40 is a lot for something that was originally planned as an expansion to Halo 3 you can see that it is indeed well worth the money when you first sit down and play this title.  One of the new features implemented is a special visor that on the ODST’s have, this highlight enemies as red, friendly’s as green and it also has a neat night vision ability.  The visor also highlights objects and areas of interest, whether this be a health dispenser, a flashback item or a collectible that unlocks audio clips from the initial invasion of New Mombasa which include clues to what actually happened.

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Sound

Like typical Halo games the game includes an excellent classical score which reflects the mood and sombre of the game, the only irritating thing with the music is, unlike other games, the score doesn’t change in battle scenarios, the music will stay intense even after you have cleared an area of Covenant so it leaves you with the feeling there are more bad ass aliens lurking around every corner that you turn.  As a games reviewer I try to scrutinise every aspect of the game and previously I used to be a sound designer so obviously if there was a fault I would find it, that being said the only fault I could find is with the dramatisation of the classical backdrop of music.  The fire fights are intense and the whole surround sound is balanced perfectly!  I used both a Turtle Beach headset and my Gaming Chair to test the sound and I found both delivered excellent, high quality effects that your grandmother would even approve of, even if shes deaf.

Overall Score & Replayability

Overall the game consists of a fairly short campaign mode that can be completed in around 4-6 hours but with higher difficulty settings and the use of co-op you could probably find yourself playing the campaign several times over.  Firefight mode (Think ‘Horde’ from Gears but with Covenant) will probably keep you playing this game for the foreseeable future with a wide range of levels and of course skulls!  If your a legendary Halo fan then your collection will not be complete without this title but for the average gamer you probably would play this a few times and trade it in, that being said the game should be on everyone’s want list even if your not a fan of the Halo IP.

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