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Halo 3: ODST Review
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Sep 22, 09 (released)
|» All About Halo 3: ODST on ActionTrip|
With the incredible success Microsoft had with Halo over the years, most especially with the series' last outing (Halo 3), it's really no shocker when they tighten their hold over Bungie just so a sequel or add-on would be churned out. Word around the gaming world is, of course, that no matter how Bungie's new game, it's going to get enough of a boost from millions of fans worldwide. As powerful as the franchise is, the developers still need to prove themselves in the eyes of critics. What's more, the expectations are generally higher than ever. This is precisely the kind of turf Halo 3: ODST, the latest standalone expansion, is landing on.
Does this have a happy ending?
The best moment for a huge Cuban cigar.
Gamers are treated to a slight departure from the series' traditional tale, which always involved the undertakings of one character - Master Chief. Now, we follow multiple stories about various ODSTs (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers), who miss-dropped in the huge city of New Mombasa in Africa. Forces of the UNSC manage to repel a large Covenant fleet that invaded the region. While retreating, a single enemy ship escapes using slipspace jump, creating a massive shockwave thus destroying a great portion of the city. The narrative takes us through the aftermath of this shockwave. The city's still overrun by numerous Covenant patrols. You're part of an ODST team that got scattered throughout the city and your only option is to try and locate your squad mates.
While I'm positive most fans are going to whine about not taking another dive into combat as Master Chief, believe me that this whole ODST thing makes for a welcomed change. Not only are you going to have access to a few different weapons, but you'll be facing a particularly motivating challenge. ODSTs are capable of handling themselves outstandingly in combat and are well-trained in surviving amazing odds. However, none of them are as powerful as Spartan warriors (i.e. the likes of Master Chief). Characters you control are more vulnerable to Covenant fire and there are no powerful shields to save your skin when you're overwhelmed by enemies. Using a more stealthy approach to each action and strategically taking on smaller groups of enemies is the true ODST way - therein lies your challenge folks.
Halo 3: ODST retains the familiar Halo AI, which we still hold in high regard. Stronger enemies react according to your behaviour and will never rush until they are certain they have the upper hand. Grunts and weaker enemies such as the Jackals lose their nerve in battle if you take out nearby Brutes or other Covenant Chieftains. However, with help of the new VISR (standard addition for all ODSTs) enemy threats are easier to make out. When switched on the VISR allows you to see areas of interest and tell friend from foe. It sounds like it makes things too easy, but thanks to the well-balanced AI the game remains challenging throughout the entire campaign. Also, you'll enjoy the freedom that was given to the main character. Yep, the game is not as linear as Halo 3 or other titles in the series. Now, you can choose where you can go and which opponents to tackle. In most situations, the tactical advantage of just slipping past unnoticed and taking out enemies silently gains a whole new dimension thanks to the games new free-roam gameplay.
There are several things that make Halo 3: ODST a winning combination. The story presentation and characterization clearly evolved beyond what we're used to witnessing in prior Halo games. The ambiance assumed a darker, more serious, tone, adding considerably to the immersion. All of that was enriched with superb sound effects and an altogether fabulous soundtrack, created once again, by Halo veteran composer Martin O'Donnell.
8.6 Very Good
Great moody ambiance, shifts the Halo formula with free-roam gameplay, gratifying solo campaign, story presentation is another welcomed departure from earlier releases, offers sufficient content for an expansion pack, the VISR is a cool new element, incredibly addictive multiplayer;
Guess it's still over a bit too soon, some people may still complain about the price.