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Dreamweaver avatar 12:19 AM on 09.01.2010  (server time)
Looking back: Halo 3: ODST

With a game like Halo: Reach coming out, I was getting pretty hyped. However, it recently just hit me; this will be the last Halo game ever. Now, with it coming up, I feel like Halo will fade in obscurity a while after it comes out. After all, how many people dropped when Modern Warfare 2 came out? The community went from 500,000 people into 200,000, or probably even less. While I would like to go into all the Halo games (and books even, I'm a HUGE fan... well, a huge of a fan I can be with a small part-time job), I have a feeling that this may be a one shot, and if that's the case, I definitely want to talk about my favorite Halo game... which is also one of the most controversial ones. Ladies and Gentlemen (but mostly gentlemen... I know there are mostly guys anyway): My favorite Halo game is Halo 3: ODST.

Honestly, RECON sounded cooler

Yeah, that's right, I went there: My favorite Halo game isn't the original 1, the controversial 2, or the hate-it-or-love-it 3, but Halo 3: ODST. Now, I can see why people would hate it; It originated as a piece of DLC, but don't forget that they expanded on it after they decided to commit to a full-time game. It also included a small bit of "free roam," which at the time sounded like a great idea. With an awesome atmosphere, great score, and new game mechanics, I was in love with this game when it came out.

However, after looking back, I realized that even though I loved the game, I did have my fair share of problems with it. Here's the good:

The Story
Now, you can say what you want about Halo's story; That it's unneeded, it's taking itself too seriously, whatever... Bu to me, Halo's story is what got me into the series. I fondly remember playing the original Halo: Sure, the levels were great, but there was just something about being betrayed by 343 Guilty Spark that rang out to me more than the game play, or when Master Chief discovers that Captain Keyes is dead. It's the little moments like that that made me wanna pick up the books, and Fall of Reach was the best book I've EVER read, period. Sure, it had the Halo brand, but hearing about how John grew up, and how his special ability is actually LUCK, it really had me intrigued the whole time. Yes, it seems like I'm nerding out about the story, but that's why ODST appealed to me a lot: The story was the best.

Whole crew by my side, cars beep beep as they pass us by...

Sure, you had to have played Halo 2 to understand the what and whys (which made me question why this game was called Halo 3: ODST in the first place), but deep down, this game had a good story. You start of as a VERY generic character, "The Rookie," but you jump back and forth between the present, when the Rookie was stranded by himself, to the past, which shows what happens to the squad after they separated. The fact that the game doesn't even give you all the facts (like why the Brutes were fighting the Elites, or what kind of relationship did Buck and Dare had) makes it even more enjoyable; It makes the game feel cryptic.

Game play
Now, I will jump back and forth between story and Game play (because one affects the other), but I will say that what isn't cryptic about this game is how to kill the Covenant: You gotta shoot them in the head. You may care less about the story, but people remember Halo for two things: Frag-fests and Blue blood (and ever since Halo 2, you can combine the two!). Yeah, the game play was where it's at, and this has one of the best levels I recall in a Halo game. Sure, levels like Halo 1's "Truth and Reconciliation" and "343 Guilty Spark" holds a special place in my heart, but playing the first true level in Halo 3: ODST (yeah, it's like Stephen Stills; You say the whole damn name) was amazing: Seeing Buck make his way to Tayari Plaza was a sight to behold: You move through the city, and kill everything. Maybe it was because I haven't played a Halo game in so long, but it was definitely memorable hearing Buck and Dare.

And that was only the first level. Once I played the missions like ONI Alpha Site and NMPD HQ, I thought this was the best game ever. Granted, it was not the best game ever, as the later levels were lacking (and the Rookie's sessions were wearing out its welcome), but at the time, I kept saying how awesome it was to retreat into the building (something that you usually NEVER do in a Halo game... as an objective at least) or when the whole squad (sans the Rookie) were defending their position as Phantoms and Banshees bombed the area.

Speaking of patrols, I recalled the trailer... remember this?

Sadie's Story
Going back into the story, I definitely loved the short story "Sadie's story." For those who didn't care, as the Rookie, you could run around the city and collect hidden audio tapes that records what happened to a girl named Sadie. Now, as big as a Halo nut I am, and how much of an Achievement whore I'm NOT, I initially didn't even care. I wasn't going to waste my time collecting something that I possibly was never going to read... that is, until I heard that a special scene plays out with the Rookie if you collected all 29 of them. And seeing as how I recall how LITTLE the Rookie contributed, I was like a rabid dog trying to find these tapes; I even played on Easy and scanned through the whole level for 2 hours to get them all. Sure, it didn't help that I missed 1 and actually had to GO TO EVERY SINGLE LOCATION again, but the story, and special scene, was worth it (to ME).

Now, I, again, didn't want to listen to the story, but I was a little bit curious, so I put it on and just did different things while it was playing. However, I eventually did started paying attention after a while, and man, I was glad I did: Sadie's Story was pretty damn good; Not as good as other short stories I read, but this in itself was amusing: The story is essentially about a girl named Sadie who's trying to find her father to escape the city. However, some perverted, corrupted officer by the name of Kinsler wants to stop her, and the only help she has is Mike, an officer who doesn't want to help Kinsler rape the girl, and Vergil, a very smart AI who runs the city.

Now, while the story it had was amusing in itself, it was kinda like a comic book in both terms of visual and depth: While it is an audio tape, you are given still images to see what's going on. But when I mention depth, that's actually an allusion that comic books show. If you pick up a comic book and give it to a kid, he'll tell you how much he loves superheroes doing cool things. Give the comic book to someone who's insightful and he'll tell ya how in-depth the story really is. Sadie's Story is a good side story, but it also has plenty of allusions to the Divine Comedy (better known as Dante's Inferno... the book).

Hunters can send you to Hell faster than (insert clich here)

For example, Kinsler represents lust, this one fat guy represents gluttony, and this officer who killed somebody over a snack represents wrath. But it isn't just cosmetic: Remember when Dante needed to get past someone, and Vergil the angel came to help him? Well, in one scene, it looked like Mike was gonna get shot, leaving Sadie alone with Kinsler. However, Vergil came to help by having a truck dump garbage all over him. There are tons of that stuff, like when Sadie "held up" someone with a stapler (guess which circle was that?) or when Mike lied about being a soldier winning the fight to boost morale (same circle).

However, the best part of Sadie's Story is that it actually ties back into Halo 3: ODST's story: If you wanted to know who the Superintendent is, how, or why, then you just gotta collect the audio logs. Like I said though, the main part of me doing this is to get an extra scene: Do you remember in the level "Data Hive?" You met this one NMPD officer who Vergil kills halfway through the level, giving the cryptic message "Crime doesn't pay; Good citizens do their part." Well, if you got all the audio logs, Vergil doesn't kill him, and when you continue through the level, the "Sealed" door you saw before is now opened by him, and if you go inside, you will see the dead body of someone important.

And then you fight the officer, marking this the ONLY time in the mother Halo game (that means no Halo Wars) where you are forced to KILL a HUMAN. Sure, you could've done that before, and if you do it enough they turn against you, but you never been FORCED to do it. Again, a reason why I loved this game. I also love that the scene where Dare and the Rookie meets Vergil because it plays out just a tiny bit differently: Most recall that when you first meet the Engineer, the Rookie raises his gun to shoot, but Dare tells him to stand down. However, if you got the last audio log (in the sealed room), then the Rookie is the one who notion (no voice) Dare to stand down, and whistles the Engineer. Small stuff like that is appreciated.

Like this pistol... not as good as the first game's, but still appreciated

Ending notes
Overall, I loved this game. Sure, I disliked some parts of this game: I loved exploring the city at first with the Rookie, but then it turned into a tedious trek, and then into a desperate struggle as you run low on ammo. They say you can avoid enemies, but from what I've seen, that's not possible. Plus, the map makes it difficult to know where exactly you should be going, and despite being able to tackle the first few missions in order, there is a defined order, which makes it pointless to even have the free roam.

I loved the score in this game as the smooth jazz fits in with the tone nicely: I even bought the CD for those moments where I sit alone in my room (don't hate). The game play was awesome, and I love the cinematic. I do complain about it being short: Now that I got access to the Halo Reach beta, I feel like the money's well worth it, but back then, 60 dollars was 20 bucks too many. Sure, it had all the maps, but you have to realize that the people who buy this game are fans of Halo, and probably have the maps already (which I did). And despite how awesome this game is, it's not really replayable: I felt fine just playing it once. And with a tedious free roam section, and short levels, there wasn't a point to restart. But all in all, the game is still my favorite because the game throws in different things.

Like Grunts, Jackals, and brutes (oh my!)

I mean for one thing, and this is something I've wanted since Halo 2, that this game mostly takes place in a city. If you recall, only two levels in the entire mother series was featured in a level and both of them were in Halo 2. When I first played Outskirts and Metropolis, I couldn't believe how great it was (and how awesome the Scarab gun is on a later play through), so it always disappointed me on how you never did it again, even in Halo 3. This game just got props just for being in a city, and not even that cop-out where it's "in a city, but not really" (read: in a sewer, in one building for about 3 minutes, etc.)

Now, with Reach coming up, I feel like this game needed one more play through. I'm keeping it in my library, but heaven knows when I'll probably play this game again. Hell, I don't even play it now; I don't have many Firefight stories because no one plays it with me since it didn't have matchmaking (although when I did get recruited, people were amazed on how good I was... on normal, but it says a lot when you keeping getting Hero medals).

That's why I wrote this: I needed to make a tribute of this game because I felt that it deserved it. And hopefully, I gave it a decent send off.

Halo 3: ODST... RIP

Even got a poster over my bed

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