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 Home -> Reviews -> Halo 3: ODST
Halo 3: ODST By: John "Award" Del Percio
October 15, 2009
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Developer :Bungie Studios
Publisher :Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date :September 2009
Platform : Microsoft XBox 360
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

Finally, Someone to Finish the Fight

At a minimum we can safely say that Halo 3: ODST gives us a lot more ending than Halo 2 did. It's an odd game in many ways and hard to place a score on, in large part due to Microsoft's decision to price it as a new release game despite its expansion pack status. Bungie has said that it started as an expansion but became a full game. While there's certainly a lot included in the box, at least in theory, it's difficult to walk away from the campaign feeling it's anything but very good expansion. The new art direction, the roll back to the original Halo gameplay, the pacing, the characters, all of it is superb. The addition of Sadie's Story extends the playtime with a well rewarded Easter egg hunt. The classic gameplay, and the more "off the cuff" design that, by nature of the fourteen month time constraint, eschews the over-engineered feeling that has plagued Halo 2 and 3 as Microsoft and Bungie have tried to make every single moment of gameplay perfectly choreographed and tested ad nauseum, is the answer to all of those complaints, especially by PC gamers, that "The first Halo was the last decent one." At the same time, its relatively few and short missions, light story until the end, compact environment, and short campaign playtime - aside from the egg hunt - keep it from feeling like a truly immersive and enthralling campaign. It's a gift for the fans in many ways, but it would be hard to use this game to pull a newcomer into the series as a numbered sequel (or unnumbered prequel, in the case of Halo: Reach) would do. The Firefight mode is a boon by way of introducing an all new cooperative multiplayer mechanic into the game; For many, this will be one of the biggest selling points. The inclusion of disc 2 is puzzling, though. For die-hard Halo multiplayer fans, it will have little value as they've no doubt had the DLC map packs for quite some time. For non-fans of Halo traditional multiplayer it will pique their interest no more than did the original Halo 3 multiplayer offerings. If it contributed to the increased cost of the bundle, it shouldn't have been included. If it was thrown in simply because the disc space was needed for the new maps and there was enough to spare to throw in the old maps for convenient one disc use, then it was a generous inclusion, and I, myself, am always happy to see classic media released instead of DLC. It adds tactile value to the purchase. Overall, Halo 3: ODST offers some great gameplay for Halo fans, the greatest potential from a co-op campaign yet, fills in some backstory, and offers a large new multiplayer mode that may bring new multiplayer gamers into the fold. The local split-screen co-op is a great feature by itself, as it's something so few games seem to want to offer. At a full $60, many will feel like they're not getting enough game for their money, and in my opinion it was a mistake to price it that high. Already in 2 weeks of release the price has dropped at many retailers to $50, making it a little more palatable. When it reaches $40 or $45, it will be a quintessential must-have for XBox 360 owners. Before that, it's still worthwhile for those waiting for their next Halo fix and can't quite wait for Reach to fall. Our score here is based on the current $50 price drop; Subtract 5% for the $60 price, add 10% for $40.

Rating

Personal Note

Graphics - Sound - Gameplay - Depth - Multiplayer  Reviewed by John Del Percio
GRAPHICS
88 %

This may be one of the most remarkable elements of the game. The graphics have come a long way from Halo 3. It's still the same engine, and still retains that trademark Halo look, but the lighting and particle effects have been tremendously improved, and the interface has undergone a makeover for the better. The scaling down of the weapons clears up the screen for positive effect as well. Halo's not the prettiest thing around these days, but it looks better than it used to!

SOUND
98 %

Much of the sound is the same as ever, including the Covenant voices, guns, etc. It's still very good, though possibly dated in some elements. The voice actors here, however, including Firefly screen veterans and an exceptional voice cast for Sadie's story push the score over the 90% threshold. Pushing it further is a stunning soundtrack. Martin O'Donnell has made quite a cult following for himeself with the previous Halo soundtracks. With ODST's soundtrack he made it more human, more personal, and less of the sweeping melodies of a space opera. It's something new, yet familiar, and it's depth and richness make it easily Martin's best score to date! I found myself in awe of it and within hours of opening the game, simply had to buy the soundtrack.

GAMEPLAY
90 %

Balanced at an even 90%, the gameplay is the driving force of any Halo game. The return to the classic "Golden Triangle" really boosts the gameplay image in this former PC stalwart's mind. It adds an element of complexity and intensity that's been missing in the last two games. The open world also adds to the gameplay mechanic especially with co-op in mind. Still, the classic Halo gameplay remains largely untouched. Not too much innovation, but knowing when to revert to the classic is innovation itself sometimes.

DEPTH
62 %

Halo isn't known for its depth. The gameplay is very tactical, but doesn't require a great deal of thought beyond basic tactics, and it doesn't leave much for you to determine on your own. The open world adds a bit to it, but not always as much as you'd think or hope, especially since the open world isn't the primary element of the gameplay environment. The story is entertaining, but offers little depth. It shows us a bit of what went on behind the scenes in Master Chief's big adventure, but isn't especially intricate in its telling. This depth score would be similarly low for any Halo game, and it goes without saying the lack of depth doesn't upstage the fun.

MULTIPLAYER
92 %

The co-op feature of the campaign is better than ever courtesy of a more open world, but the big feature is the Firefight mode. A whole new mode for multiplayer centering on cooperative play is a big win for the multiplayer fans out there, and the hill defense mode of play fits right into the Haloverse brilliantly. The inclusion of the second multiplayer disc may have limited value for most players, but its inclusion certainly can't hurt the multiplayer score!



Aspects of this game wowed me, and others left me wishing for more. Almost rather than a price drop, I'd have loved for Bungie to have just put a bit more time into it and really built out a full campaign. We all love Chief and Cortana, but the telling of their story has always felt impersonal and flat, as though the story is just barely there to fill in the ever-raging action. With ODST we can feel more for the characters at the heart of it and it's refreshing to have that kind of environment in a Halo game. It's far more personal, and I found myself truly getting into it toward the end where the story and character interactions began to really pick up. It's a shame it didn't last any longer, it would have been great to develop those stories even more. Fortunately, though, Halo is still the definitive co-op split-screen campaign on the XBox 360, and that in itself makes any Halo game a must-have for fans of co-op that are loathe to spend $120 for two copies a game just to play local cooperative games.

Overall Rating

 


 


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