Developer: Bungie / Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios / ESRB: Mature (Blood, Language, Violence) / Played on: Xbox 360 / Price: $29.99
In Pay, Rent, or Pass we are checking out the latest installment in the massively popular Halo franchise, Halo ODST. The question on everyones mind is can Halo stand on its own without Master Chief? The answer is most undoubtedly…yes.
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In Halo ODST, players are put in control of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, regular human infantry who are being dropped into New Mombassa at the end of Halo 2 just as the Prophet of regrets ship is going into slip space. Obviously the troops are scattered as the city is destroyed and players are tasked with linking back up with the rest of the squad in a city crawling with covenant troops. At the start of the game players take control of the Rookie. This guy doesn’t talk and players never see his face, this is great since now players can make the distinction that they are the rookie and truly part of the action. As players make their way through the game they will discover clues as to the location of the rest of their squad. Once discovered, these clues unlocks flashbacks that show what has happened to the rest of the squad. Players will then take control of these squad members in these sequences and play through their unique experiences of being dropped into New Mombassa. I really enjoy that the game allows you to see the battle on New Mombassa from so many different perspectives. Something players will have to take into account is the fact that the ODST are not Spartans. This means that in this game players will have to utilize cover, gone are the days of charging headfirst into a swarm of covenant troops. Players who try this will learn very quickly that the ODST troopers aren’t built to sustain damage like the Spartans. In fact the ODST troopers have a limited amount of life and this will require players to search for health containers to replenish depleted life. Another new feature in ODST is the addition of Visor system. All of the ODST troopers come equipped with VISOR which allows them to basically see in the dark. Once enabled everything has an outline to it. Inanimate objects are outlined in yellow, enemies in red, friendlies in green and mission objectives in bright yellow. Its a nice new addition to the game that makes things a little more compelling and definitely helps out in a fight. And speaking of new things, the game offers up a few sort of new weapons, you have the silenced SMG and the return of the magnum pistol…AMAZING. Also new is the addition of a game type called Firefight. Basically players take on in solo or co-op a never ending wave of enemies a la Horde mode from Gears of War 2. Halo ODST really surprised me, it creates a sense of tension that I haven’t previously felt in any halo games. I actually feel a sense of dread when encountering Hunters and packs of brutes in the ODST. Not playing as a super enhanced spartan really makes you think twice about how to play this game. ODST also comes packed with all of the multi-player maps that have been released for Halo 3 so far as well as 3 new maps.
The graphics in ODST are quite a sight to behold in my opinion. Sure its still running on the Halo 3 engine and the game was made in under a year but the addition of the visor system for some reason makes things pop a bit more in this title. Lighting is HUGE in this game with players taking on many battles at night while lights are flashing and explosions are going off, and the game does a beautiful job of showing the realistic effects of the lighting within the game.
This is one of my favorite features in ODST. The soundtrack is an odd yet appropriate fit for the game. Sweeping piano and an oddly epic score somehow fits perfectly while you are headhunting grunts off into oblivion. The voice-acting is solid in ODST and the majority of the cast is from the nerd friendly cast of Firefly. Overall the sound in the game is right on the money.
As most of us know, if you don’t have near perfect controls in an FPS game, its going to suffer. Luckily ODST’s controls are perfect. Tight and responsive, I wouldn’t expect anything less from the team over at bungie. Everything works seamlessly in the controls department to create an extremely enjoyable game play experience.
Bungie didn’t reinvent the wheel with ODST, but what they did manage to do is recreate interest in a series that for me was starting to become dare I say a little stale. Taking control of the ODST troopers is an extremely fun experience, not being a near indestructible spartan is actually a refreshing change of pace. While the game only clocks in at around 6 hours to play through its a must own for any fan of the series. The addition of Firefight mode alone will have players coming back for a long time, and if you didn’t already own all of the multi-player maps for Halo 3 this is a perfect chance to catch up. Oh and BTW your beta invite for Halo Reach is included on here as well, I gotta say I really hope Bungie continues down this path of innovation with Halo Reach because this was a refreshing change of pace. Halo ODST is a pay. Go pick it up kids.