The Halo series is without a doubt the most popular and most successful game franchise this decade, it’s definitely a game every Xbox owner looks forward to. Microsoft and Bungie might have parted ways but Bungie isn’t done with the Halo series yet. Halo 3: ODST is scheduled to arrive this Tuesday (Sept 22nd) and will change the way you view and play Halo. The game once announced as simply an “expansion” is now a full title set at a full $60 price. People have been questioning the price and whether or not this is either a full game or just DLC? Introducing a new way of gameplay to Halo, Master Chief’s absence, and no real new competitive multiplayer, is Halo 3 :ODST an expansion or a full grand scale game?
The main course in Halo 3: ODST is the new campaign, which also introduces a new hero, The Rookie. The story begins when you and your squad are separated upon your arrival to New Mombasa searching for a reason as to why the Covenant have decided to invade the city, now you must search for your squad members in a Covenant occupied New Mombasa. In New Mombasa you’ll find certain objects which trigger a flashback and that will start a mission. Each mission will have you playing as a different member in your squad, and will show his side of how things went for him upon arrival. For the first time in Halo, you’ll be able play in the open world of New Mombasa and play missions in any select order. Co-op is always a plus so you’ll be happy to know that the game can be played with four players online and two players in split-screen, so don’t fight alone.
One thing that Halo 3: ODST has changed drastically from other Halo games is the gameplay. Playing as an ODST will make you appreciate everything about Master Chief. No longer can you duel wield weapons, not even the guns that could be duel wielded like the Needler or the Plasma Rifle and no more Battle Rifle. Most of your kills will be done with the two new weapons introduced in ODST, which are the sound-suppressed submachine gun and a sound-suppressed magnum. This new weaponry fits the mood of the game very well seeing as how you’re trying to be a sneaky investigator in the streets of New Mombasa. An ODST also comes equipped with a VISR which can be turned on to help you spot enemies much easier. The only complaint I have is that I found myself turning it on only to use it as sort of a flashlight which had me asking why not just give me a flashlight? The health of an ODST is also much weaker than that of a Spartan. You wont be running and gunning around or you’ll find yourself dead in a hurry. You pretty much have a bar of health if you get hit it will flash red and beep like crazy which can be awfully irritating, you’ll have to find a health pack in order to regain your health now. Overall it may seem like the gameplay took a turn for the worse but the main complaint being made is that you’re not like Master Chief so it makes sense not having his abilities, after all you are human now. Luckily, you’ll adapt quickly to the abilities an ODST offers and it changes the way you play Halo which needed to be done for a while.
Graphically, Halo 3: ODST is just a tad better looking than Halo 3. It’s a little bit more polished but overall it’s mostly the same. Only a true graphics enthusiast will find a difference when you compare ODST to Halo 3, side by side. When it comes to sound in Halo 3: ODST, the music is phenomenal. Martin O’Donnell and his partner Michael Salvatori composed the music for ODST, and their music really helped capture the feel of the game. The music playing as your walking around the night time of New Mombasa, just makes that experience richer and better. I really don’t notice music in video games too often but the music in Halo games are always great. You might not find something as good as the Halo Theme but you’ll forget it’s even missing after awhile. Some of the most notable sound comes from the people voicing the characters in the game. Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, and Tricia Helfer do a great job voice acting and really make their roles seem believable.
Now on to some quick extras that Halo 3: ODST has to offer. A new cooperative mode called Firefight is introduced and in this mode you’ll find yourself trying to survive wave after wave of enemies. It may sound like horde mode from Gears of War 2 and there’s no arguing that Firefight is an offspring of that but Firefight adds more of a fun factor to it. Killing enemies and raking up a highscore to hear encouraging Halo phrases like “Triple Kill” and “Running Riot” makes this mode fun. Things can get difficult during the later rounds of Firefight especially when some skulls are activated. Some skulls will trigger enemies to throw more grenades and another could double your enemies health, so you can imagine the level of teamwork it’ll take to survive. Theater mode also returns so you’ll be able to take screen shots of amazing things that happened to you during your campaign run or a Firefight round. In case you forgot, Halo 3: ODST is a 2 disc game. One disc has the ODST campaign and Firefight mode and the second is Halo 3 multiplayer with all the downloadable maps plus 3 new maps on disc. No new features are included in Halo 3 multiplayer except for the 3 new maps, so if you own Halo 3 and bought all the downloadable maps you might feel robbed. Unfortunately, there’s no way you can purchase only the ODST disc, but that’s the price you pay to get an invitation into the Halo: Reach beta.
Bungie took a chance and changed things that felt too familiar with Halo, even if it meant the good things, but they made it work at the same time adding a new way to play Halo. The Halo franchise may always be successful but this game is not safe and I commend Bungie for playing a wild card and winning. At the same time, people have to know that upon purchasing this game you’re in a way re-buying Halo 3 multiplayer. So could Halo 3: ODST campaign and Firefight be DLC? Yes, but its not. I can’t tell you what to do with your own money, but it’s a game worth buying for any Halo fan.