You know the music, time to dance! Halo 3: ODST is perhaps one the biggest departures in the entire Halo franchise, yet it somehow remains one of the best as well!
With the game currently in the late Test Flight stages on PC & Xbox One for Halo: The Master Chief Collection, and its full release just around the corner; what better way to celebrate than to highlight why it’s so great? Also it was my birthday this week, and I really want to gush about Halo 3: ODST, so prepare to drop into the hype zone!
Prepare To Drop
Halo 3: ODST is a spin-off game developed by Bungie, and was released in 2009 exclusively on the Xbox 360 console. It released to overall rave reviews and reception, and is considered a genuine classic among the Halo community. The campaign was also added to Halo: The Master Chief Collection in early 2015, and it’s Firefight mode is finally being on the Xbox One alongside the full release of the game on PC very soon.
Halo 3: ODST takes place between Halo 2 & Halo 3 and follows an ODST squad known as Alpha-Nine, composed of; Edward Buck, Veronica Dare, Dutch, Romeo, Mickey, and The Rookie. Their mission: drop into the Covenant Super-Carrier that is hovering above the Earth city New Mombasa. Or is it? As they drop from their fancy ODST drop-pods towards the carrier as it jumps into slipspace, creating an explosion that violently scatters the team throughout the city.
Feet First Into Hell
6 hours after the drop, The Rookie awakes in his drop-pod to find himself in the middle of an Covenant occupied New Mombasa. Using the dead of night and the rain-storm above, The Rookie must sneak his way through the dark city; utilising his special light up HUD & silenced SMG and Magnum to get find his scattered ODST team.
This grounded, gritty shooter with a detective noir approach is a far cry from the traditional space opera epic that Halo is known for; and because of that the story stands out as truly unique. The time you spend playing as The Rookie revolves around your exploration of New Mombasa looking for clues of what happened to the rest of Alpha Nine.
With every found object, the game flashes back to a mission where you play as a character within Alpha Nine up until the events that explain how that clue got there. This gives Halo 3: ODST a huge variety of different combat scenarios; and allows the exploration of the human characters to drive the story forward.
Speaking of the story itself, Halo 3: ODST is the first and currently only Halo game to not feature a Forerunner mcguffin of any kind; nor saving the world. Instead, the story takes a far more human approach and deals with themes such as abandonment, loss & survival of the Covenant through the eyes of humanity. Halo 3: ODST features one of the strongest campaigns in the franchise, despite being the biggest departure from the standard Halo form.
Being the Halo geek I am, I can speak from experience that Halo 3: ODST‘s story is one of the best in the entire franchise; including the expanded lore stuff. Great actors such as Nathan Fillion, Alak Tudyk & Tricia Helfer give wonderful performances as Buck, Mickey & Dare respectively; adding a ton of flavor to the game.
This is a game that hardcore fans and casual fans can enjoy; the story require no previous knowledge to understand and enjoy, and there is quite a few references and details that hardcore fans will appreciate as well!
Not A Spartan, But A Man
ODSTs may be highly skilled soldiers, but they certainly not the Spartan super-soldiers we’re used to playing as. While the gameplay is pretty similar to Halo 3′s on the surface level, the game makes a point to reflect that fact that ODSTs are different that Spartans. Everything from the gear ODSTs use, to their limitations as normal human beings appear in some form or another in the gameplay.
Among this biggest changes is the heads up display (HUD) and the health system. Instead of the standard blue Spartan HUD outline, the ODST HUD is colour-coded in yellow featuring a new design. While that is more an aesthetic change, the the biggest difference to the ODST HUD is the new VISR mode that brightens the environment, outlines foes in red and friendlies in green.
Additionally there is also a map mode, that allows you to see New Mombasa from above to guide you on where to go. This feature wouldn’t be seen again until a very similar inclusion seen within the Halo Infinite gameplay demo.
Where health packs are nothing new, Halo 3: ODST makes them a lot more important as there is no recharging shields, nor regenerating health. Taking damage is far more punishable, so you’ll need to approach combat more intelligently as you will die much quicker. Luckily, there are plenty of health packs nearby; as long as you know where to look.
Standard gameplay mechanics are also altered to reflect the fact that an ODST is no super soldier. The distance at which a grenade can be thrown is toned down; and the grenades are thrown higher than before as well. Weapons also kick back a lot more violently, as a man cannot control the recoil as much as a Spartan can. When all of these changes come together into a cohesive experience, there is no denying that Halo 3: ODST is an incredibly unique gameplay experience.
Fighting Fire With Firefight
As if the game wasn’t already extremely unique; it is also responsible to one of Halo’s most enjoyable modes: Firefight! This co-operative survival mode was introduced in Halo 3: ODST and has become a huge staple to franchise; as each game since has had its own take on the game mode. Many, including myself, would agree that Halo 3: ODST’s Firefight still remains the king; and that is because of how well it nails its survival mode.
The rules are pretty straight forward; kill all the bad guys before they kill you. However, Halo 3: ODST adds in different sets to help the difficulty increase after every wave; meaning more enemies and the inclusion of stronger enemies with each wave. This on its own can be quite challenging, especially when taking into consideration how weak you are as an ODST compared to a Spartan counterpart.
Firefight takes its intense gameplay & combat encounters and turns it up to 11 with skulls! As you fight off wave after wave of Covenant enemies, skulls will be added making the challenge increase exponentially. Skulls such as catch have enemies, especially Grunts, go grenade happy; and Tough Luck makes enemies more aggressive as they go berserk. Even this combination of two skulls is enough to ruin your killing spree if you’re not careful!
The best part of Firefight mode is how it can be played alone or with friends; with 2 player couch co-op and 4 player online modes! It doesn’t get better than squading up with your ODST buddies to take on the Covenant, 1 wave at a time! It’s adds a whole new way to experience Halo with your friends, giving the freedom to just kill enemies instead of killing online players or following a story.
Where’s The Fight At?
Halo 3: ODST is available on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One with backwards comparability, which is currently the only way you can experience the Firefight mode, with the campaign being available on Halo: The Master Chief Collection on the Xbox One. However, the main point of this Game Recommendation is to get you excited for what is coming out VERY soon.
The entirety of Halo 3: ODST is releasing on the PC version of Halo: The Master Chief Collection, with an updated version of Firefight also being released on the Xbox version as well! Alongside all of this, new weapons and vehicles are being added to Firefight for a whole new experience on this updated version. Alongside these upcoming releases, the standard multiplayer for Halo 3 will be getting the addition of Halo 3: ODST weapons, such as; The Silenced SMG & Magnum and Brute Plasma Rifle (Red).
As stated before, the test flight for this release and features is currently underway; meaning the full release is just around the corner! So if you’re interested in a Halo game that breaks its own rules to become a truly unique entry, Halo 3: ODST is for you!
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