Halo 3: ODST

Let me begin this by stating, this game has an awful title. The original working title “Recon” was considerably better. Just throwing together a bunch of random letters is not particularly helpful. I can understand if they did not want it to be confused with Halo Reach, which is supposed to come out some time next year. However, they could have just as easily gone with something simple, like “Shock” or “Trooper,” but whatever I guess.

Last week I managed to procure this game. Sadly, I had to put it on a credit card since I am too broke at the moment to be able to pay for it in cash. Hurray for interest. Sadly, since my purchase was delayed, I missed a marathon session with vanberge, and vanlandw (who wussed out and played on Heroic). Luckily, vanlandw was up for a second play through so I was able to obliterate the campaign on legendary with him and my brother, Jason. Good times.

The game itself is basically halo 3, but a little suckier. There is HUD system that obscures a lot of screen, and sucks on split screen. Additionally, they decided to put health back in to the game. So, it effectively works a lot like the original halo, where you have a “shield” and health. I have to say that the past two games have made me a bit soft, because it sucks to have to find health packs again. There are a few quirks in the system as well, for example, if you pick up a turret it makes you run faster, whoops.

When we started there were some serious lag issues. For the first couple of levels the game was lagging so much it was barely playable. However, during this time vanlandw was experiencing smooth game play, so I assume my degraded performance was due to caching data to the hard drive or something. Anyhow, after a few levels everything started working smoothly.

The campaign was pretty fun, not as good as Halo 3, but better than Halo 2. I hate the flashback aspect of it it though. And, the story is not particularly interesting, especially if you listen to the audio clips. The whole “save the girl” storyline…give me a break. The campaign was effectively short though, as the three of us were able to beat it on legendary in under five hours. And, there are not really any tough choke points like there are in Halo 3.

Firefight kind of sucks. It is not fun to solo, period. And, while you can play with friends, there is no matchmaking so if none of your friends on online you’re by yourself. Also, the skull handling is pretty annoying. I would really like to have more control over it. I tend to prefer things that are set so you know specifically what is required of you. This constantly changing the terms of battle only deters from the experience. Even if all they had was a way to “buy” disabling of a skull with points kind of like you do in Cal of Duty: World at War in Zombie mode.

Most of the achievements in the game are pretty easy to get, in fact you get about half of them just by playing through the campaign. However, there are some tough ones, particularly the vidmaster challenges. I am not sure about the fightfight achievements. I haven’t been able to get four people together to play it, and so far the best I’ve done with a group is 120,000, and that took quite a while to get.

I am not exactly sure why, but I think the game designers took a page out of the Gears of War book with the way things are setup. The level designs are much more muted than what I’m used to in Halo. And the “visor mode” just washes things out worse.

Basically, I’d say the game was fun, but not great. I would recommend it to every Halo fan. However, I think that most casual gamers would not get a lot of enjoyment out of it. I’m giving the game a 3 on my undecim rating system.