Want a new perspective of the Halo universe?
Then look no further than Bungie’s upcoming title, Halo 3: ODST.
Halo 3: ODST (the acronym standing for Orbital Drop Shock Troopers) is a stand-alone first-person shooter extension of Bungie’s Halo 3.‚ In ODST, players take control of “the Rookie” who is a normal, non-Spartan soldier in the UNSC army.‚ Unlike Master Chief, ODSTs are not blessed with the speed, strength or resilience an enhanced soldier.‚ Instead, these troopers must rely on teamwork, defensive cover and smart tactics to survive and complete missions.
Microsoft was kind enough let to get my hands on Halo 3: ODST during Comic-Con this year.‚ During my brief preview, I was able to get the inside scoop on what is soon to come from Bungie’s upcoming creation.
The first thing I learned about ODST was the fact that each purchase will come with two discs.‚ The first disc will include ODST’s unique campaign and Firefight modes.‚ The second disc will include a fully functional copy of Halo 3’s previously released multiplayer mode, complete with 24 maps (including the Heroic, Legendary, Mythic and one previously unreleased map packs).‚ With each map pack being sold between 600 to 800 Microsoft Points, the inclusion of the Halo 3 multiplayer disc is a worthy addition to the ODST package.‚ This is especially true for those Halo 3 veterans who haven’t bought the maps already or just the casual gamer who is simply late on jumping on the Halo 3 bandwagon.
With the success of Halo 3’s multiplayer and Bungie always seeming to be able to churn out an interesting campaign, I was mostly concerned with how the Firefight mode would work.‚ Luckily for me, Firefight was exactly what the folks at Microsoft let me demo.‚ Firefight is a cooperative multiplayer mode in which teammates must defend themselves from increasingly difficult waves of enemies, similar to Gears of War 2’s Horde mode or Call of Duty 5’s Nazi Zombies.‚ What was fun about Firefight was the fact that players will be able to face of against waves of classic Halo enemies, including Grunts and Brutes.‚ All of the classic enemies still have their memorable quirks and movement styles, allowing Halo fans to enjoy a little bit of nostalgia as they try to complete Firefight.
I also appreciated that the increased difficulty of enemies was very dynamic.‚ Unlike in similar game modes, Firefight does not just improve the shield strength or just increase the sheer number of opponents as you advance to high levels.‚ Instead, each wave in Firefight will have certain characteristics.‚ For instance, one feature that I found to be most memorable was when the game alerted me that the next wave of enemies would be more prone to throwing grenades.‚ It was refreshing to see such a creative addition to a simple idea for a game mode.
From a gameplay standpoint, one thing that bothered me about ODST was the fact that the troopers (who are supposed to be normal, non-enhanced infantry soldiers) had Master Chief-like vertical leaping abilities.‚ During my time with Firefight, I would often find myself jumping over tall enemies, such as fully armored Brutes.‚ Though it could be considered nitpicking, I still found this unbelievable jumping to be a flaw in this one of this game’s goal: giving games a view of the Halo 3 universe from inside of the average soldier’s helmet.‚ Hopefully this will be something Bungie will eventually address as they develop the game further.
The ODSTs do have plenty of differences from Master Chief, however.‚ First, ODST soldiers are all equipped with a night vision function, which is toggled by the X-button (the only button that had a different function when compared to Master Chief’s controls).‚ What made night vision helpful was its ability to highlight enemies (outlining them in red) and objects (outlining them in yellow), even if they were behind barriers and obstacles.‚ Not surprisingly, night vision gave me an incredible advantage on enemies whenever I had it on.‚ In fact, I didn’t really see a point to not having night vision activated at all times.
To compensate for the addition of night vision, ODSTs are unable to use dual weapons.‚ So, those of you who enjoyed the days of doubling up SMGs or Laser Pistols, your days are numbered.‚ I found the removal of the dualing feature was a classic example of “addition by subtraction” and I look forward to the challenges it is sure to bring.‚ However, even though dual weapons are out of the picture, the addition new weapons is certainly not.‚ Halo 3: ODST will allow players to get their hands on a silenced SMG and a silenced pistol, both of which are unique to the game.‚ Though the silenced SMG was fun, I would have to say that the silenced pistol was my favorite of the two new guns just because of the fact that it shoots much faster than its previous counterpart.
My favorite part of my hands-on experience with Halo 3: ODST was the grittiness of the graphics.‚ Unlike times in Halo 3, ODST looked to capture the look and feel of war in a more authentic fashion.‚ The settings were dark, the graphics were gritty and the action was nonstop.‚ It just seemed that ODST could provide a more “real” campaign experience than Halo 3.‚ I am looking forward to seeing what Bungie has in store.‚ It should be a good time.
Overall, it looks like Halo 3: ODST could be a success.‚ Initially, I was afraid that Bungie could be using ODST as a means to gain some revenue without producing a top-notch title.‚ Instead, I have found myself nearly convinced that ODST will be worth every penny used to purchase it.‚ The only thing holding me back from completely buying into ODST’s hype is the campaign.‚ If Bungie can live up to its storytelling resume, ODST will be a worthwhile investment.‚ However, if Bungie falls short in the campaign department, things could get ugly.‚ Let’s hope that the former scenario comes through.