Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Halo 3: ODST Review (XBOX 360)

There are always great games that, despite upholding the names of blockbuster titles, seem to slip beneath the cracks and lack the attention that they deserve. Perhaps one of the most important examples of such, would be Microsoft's and Bungie's Halo 3: ODST, a prequal to Halo 3 and a middle-line sequel to Halo 2. Although many reviewers have labeled this title as being "nothing more than an expansion pack," it certainly holds up as a standalone title in the same way that Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary. So, what are you waiting for? Click on past the break for the full review of Halo 3: ODST.

For those of you unaware about either this game or the series, please continue to read this paragraph. If you know a little bit about the series and the game, you should continue to read this. If you have Halo T-shirts, action figures, posters and albums from the games, don't bother reading this, because these are things you already know. In fact, you probably have played this game too many times to count. You know how awesome it is. So really, don't waste your time reading this. Then again, if you're looking for a trip down memory lane, it should be a relieving read.

To sum up the Halo series in a single sentence is close to impossible. Never before has a single franchise garnered such enthusiastic acclaim from both reviewers and fans, and never before has a game thought so uniquely out of the box. Yet, the resulting storm of console shooters afterward had almost blown PC shooters out of the water since and have helped shift the "serious gamer" away from the PC and onto the console. And rightfully so. The console is far cheaper, easier to use and more practical for gaming. And Halo's developers took advantage of that, and put perhaps one of the best shooters together for the original XBOX. Ever since, the series has found a large amount of attention from just about everyone and his brother.

The premise of the Halo series is this- Human advancements thousands of years in the future have gotten to the point where man has reached out to other planets and made contact with extraterrestrial lifeforms. Unfortunately, a unity of these lifeforms are against mankind and have decided to engage the human race in an all out war for universal control. In the first three titles of the main series (3 ODST is considered to be an expansion, although it's really a totally different story) you navigate the expansive world of both Earth, Space and large land-mass covered rings known as Halo rings (which is where the series name is derived from). The protagonist of this series is the Master Chief, John 117- a reserved young soldier and the last of a superhuman race of surgically modified world-class military super soldiers.

Halo 3 ODST is a totally new take on the Halo franchise. Sure, you still are locked into a first person perspective. You still wield both human and covenant weaponry. You still shoot the shit out of every alien bastard you encounter. You still play for the "good side" of the earthlings. But you aren't Master Chief anymore. There is no one around to tell you where to go or what to do. Forget about a sexy AI speaking into your ear and telling you everything under the sun. You're alone. Completely, and totally alone. You don't have a superhuman body shield to protect you from the hot fire blasts of your enemies. Your health is of the utmost importance here. There is no one to save you this time.

You are a lone ODST (orbital drop shock trooper) in New Mombassa, Africa in the middle of a war of worlds. You aren't going to save the world or the human race. Your focus now is to save yourself, and find out what happened to your fellow fallen comrades. This process is done in a way very similar to the conventional Sherlock Holmes mystery- several perspectives from several different characters are played out in order to bring all of the pieces together at the end. This is something very new to the Halo franchise, and unfortunately, not yet reproduced in any games following it. Then again, Halo 4 is currently in production, with a fifth and sixth installment expected to accompany it in the following years. Hopefully this beautiful method of storytelling can be reproduced in another future Halo game. Many of what you do in this game takes place during night-time, which really sets the dark, jazz-induced tone that Bungie has perfected in this game. As many would assume, playing around with guns in the middle of the night must be hard to do, and Bungie accommodated players with night vision- which highlights buildings, enemies, friends and important objects with unique bands of different colored light.

In terms of gameplay, the controls are pretty standard. The only changes found are with the addition of night vision, which take place of the previously used flashlight. This is one of the coolest features in the game, and thankfully, it was brought over to Halo Reach two years later.

Newly introduced in Halo 3: ODST, is a new form of multiplayer gameplay called "Firefight", in which players are bunched together, or pitted against each other to fight off wave upon wave of covenant soldiers. While this is very fun in ODST, it is notably more developed in the following game, Halo Reach, which is probably the best way to experience this feature. This and Halo 3's generic multiplayer are bundled together on a second disc, which untied make up Halo 3: ODST's multiplayer experience.

The Halo franchise has always been a personal favorite of mine, and although I'd love to talk about this game until I'm blue in the face, I think the majority of you get the point. This game is incredible. And, thankfully, it's inexpensive as well. The game, although a plethora of copies were sold, many were also returned, and many were left unsold. Microsoft still produces the title, and in most cases, you can pick up your own fresh copy of the game for less than twenty bucks. Considering this game isn't as long as other Halo titles, the price definitely matches the experience, and is well worth it at the end of the day. So, what are you waiting for? Get off that couch and over to GameStop. Power to the (Halo) players.

Gamescore: 8.5/10 "Great"

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