Halo 3: ODST Impressions

This will be an ongoing post regarding Halo 3: ODST and my thoughts on the game. Obviously I have only had a few hours to sit down and play the game and have yet to complete it so I can’t comment on the total story or length of the campaign, but I’ll get there eventually.

I wanted to start off with my first impressions of the game itself after having a night to play around with the campaign and the co-op campaign. So let’s get into that for now and I’ll update when I complete the game.

I was very hesitant to pick up this game in the first place, everything I had heard made it out to sound like it was a glorified Halo 3 expansion that was only going to take me a couple hours to complete yet Bungie was justifying the $60 price tag by throwing in another disc of Halo 3’s multiplayer content. I didn’t want to spend $60 on half of a game, I already have Halo 3 and don’t play the multiplayer aspect of it (I’m a Call of Duty guy), so why would I want to re-buy all that aspect of the game… The decision would have been a lot easier had they released 2 different versions, one that was just the new single player campaign and another that was packaged with the Halo 3 multiplayer and all the map pack stuff, and then priced that at like $29.99. What about all those people out there that own Halo 3 and have already purchased all of the map packs? If they want ODST they are basically re-buying all of those packs plus 3 or so new maps… seems like a rip-off. My other idea was to just wait and buy it on eBay, maybe someone on there would be selling just the campaign disc for cheap and I could pick it up, but in the end I decided to just buy the damn game. I have a little while until Left 4 Dead 2 comes out and I was getting bored so this should kill some time before then, plus when I’m done with it in a week I’ll just throw it up on eBay and recoup 80% of my cost.

So let’s get to the game itself. I already mentioned that there’s single player campaign on one disc and Halo 3’s multiplayer on another disc, but that doesn’t mean that disc 2 is the only way to play multiplayer. Disc 1 has campaign co-op and Firefight modes. I have not gotten a chance to try out Firefight mode, but from what I understand it is similar to Gears of War 2’s Horde Mode or Call of Duty: World at War’s Nazi Zombies. It’s just wave after wave of enemies that you need to fend off until you die. There is no end so it will go on until you’re whole squad dies. I’m sure this mode is quite popular already, I just didn’t have the time last night to give it a try. Co-op campaign is exactly what you’d expect. If you’ve played Halo 3’s co-op then you will be familiar with this. I played last night with 2 of us in the game, I’m not sure if you can do up to 4 or not, but I’m assuming you can.

Alright, now on to the game itself. You start off as “Rookie” and watch as your squad is deployed and subsequently separated when things go wrong. You wake up hours later and get out of your pod only to find the area in shambles and your crew nowhere around. As you walk through the dilapidated ruins, you come across clues to what happened to your crew, and this is where it gets kind of cool. Every time you find a clue you, the player, jump back in time and play as those crew members that pertain to that clue. So you get to go back and play through what actually happened that caused that clue to end up where it did. It’s an interesting little twist on a game that I can’t ever recall seeing and after playing through the first 3 “flashbacks/missions” it works really well and I really like how the story comes together because of them. It reminds me of the movie Memento in the fact that the movie is shown backwards in pieces, definitely unique.

The game plays exactly like Halo 3 does except you are obviously not Master Chief, but members of the ODST squad. They don’t have the regenerating shield armor like MC and they can’t run as fast or jump quite as high, but the controls aren’t really that different. You do get this cool visor that allows you to see things of interest and enemies a lot easier, if it’s dark out. I’ve found that if it’s light out, the visor just blows out your vision and is pretty pointless. All of the guns are still around and there are a couple new ones. Probably the biggest difference is the lack of regenerating shield, instead you have a life bar and health packs strewn around. When I first heard this I thought it was going to be a lot harder and you’re life could go down pretty fast, but it’s actually pretty hard to lose all your life (in the normal difficulty anyways). You still have armor so you can still take some shots and not be harmed, but your stamina will start to go down and the screen will turn red and you’ll have to take cover for a second. So while the life thing is a little different and you gotta make sure you keep an eye on it, it doesn’t really hinder the gameplay experience.

The game itself seems a lot more tactical than Halo 3 did as well. It’s not all about just running and gunning like the previous Halo games were. In fact, when you play as Rookie (at least through the first 3 missions), there are hardly any enemies in the present time. Most of the actual fighting and enemy battles come when you find a clue and go back and fight as your squad mates. So far I’m enjoying it, but I’m still worried that it’s going to be a very short game and I’m not going to get out of it what I wanted to. I’ll be happy if it takes 6 hours to complete, but if I sit down tonight and finish the game after 2 sittings I’ll be a little upset (it’s going on eBay no matter what so I guess it doesn’t really matter).

So I’ll continue to update this post when I finish the game and if I get a chance to play the Firefight mode, but what do you guys think of the game? Is it worth the $60 price tag? Should Bungie have just released it as a $30 “expansion” like originally planned (not sure if that was the original price point)? Have you tried Firefight, what’s it like? Take a second and comment, we love reading the comments. And if you’re looking for someone to play with you can find me on XBL as MaKTR2