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E3 09: Halo ODST gameplay has a night and day difference

4:00 PM on 06.05.2009 // Hamza CTZ Aziz

I know a lot of people were upset when Halo ODST's price was announced. I thought $60 was way too much for what Bungie was calling an expansion back at TGS 08. After seeing everything that ODST had to offer so far from my meeting with Bungie, I think the price is actually justifiable. 

ODST takes place between the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3 and the main character you play as is the new recruit to the ODST team. The Oribital Drop Shock Troopers are sent in to deal with a Covenant threat but things don't go according to plan.

Hit the break for more.

Before all this takes place, there's a cutscene with the ODST soldiers and I'm pretty sure it's the longest intro cutscene the Halos has ever had. This is a great sign to me as the last two Halo games really lacked a detailed plot and ODST could be rich in story. Here's hoping anyway. 

The main character you play as is the Rookie who gets knocked out for six hours after crash landing. His part of the game is about exploration and mystery. He's trying to figure out what's happened to the city and his teammates since the time he was knocked out. The Rookie will find clues and that will trigger a flash back cutting to one of the Rookie's ODST squad mates.

Playing as other ODST members will take place during the day and the gameplay focus shifts to the action/combat style most players are familiar with from Halo 3. You'll play as every single ODST member during the campaign in these flashbacks sequences.

As an ODST, you have to change up how you play Halo. You don't have an energy shield, you have to find health packs to heal and you even take fall damage now. You're not a super solider, you're a regular human and you can't be all gun-ho like the Master Chief. 

It was interesting watching the Rookie take on Grunts and Brutes. The demoer would engage the Covenant, back off, and then reengage them. Again, you're just a human. You can get hurt easily so you have to be smart about how you take enemies on. But not that smart -- there seemed to be plenty of health stations around the destroyed African city.

ODST has two new weapons coming with it, one pistol and one machine gun. They're both silenced weapons and they both seem stronger than the pistol and machine gun from Halo 3. The pistol, in fact, was taking out Brutes with just one head shot after their shields were depleted. 

Another big change with ODST is its non-linear focus. Pressing the back button brings up a real time map of one of the largest environments Bungie has ever created for a Halo game. There are multiple paths all around the city and multiple points of interest for the player to explore. Players can set down waypoints on the map and an indicator on the ODST's compass will show him which direction to go to get to his target. The city's AI will also try to be helpful and light up signs pointing the player to where he needs to go as well as telling him that there's danger ahead.

One final thing to note is just how amazing ODST looks. It's hard to believe that this is actually the same engine from Halo 3. They've had plenty of time to mess around with the engine and it really shows in ODST

Check back a little later today for a look at Halo ODST's Firefight game mode. In the mean time, how's ODST sounding to you so far? 

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