The Halo series is one of gaming’s biggest franchises to date. From videogames, books, comics, toys, to clothes -- Halo was even almost turned into (and could very well still be) a Hollywood film. Halo 3: ODST is the latest Bungie-developed entry into the Haloverse, in what is being hailed as a new direction.
Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360)
Halo 3: ODST takes place during the events of Halo 2 and follows five ODST soldiers and a special ONI agent who have taken command of some Helljumpers for a secret mission. As these six are making a drop, along with a squadron of other Helljumpers, towards the Prophet of Regret’s battleship, the battleship initiates a slipspace jump right above the city of New Mombasa. The jump causes the ODST’s drop pods to go out of control and crash land in different parts of the city.
The combination of map and VISR will help you navigate New Mombasa as you search for beacons scattered across the city. The Rookie was passed out for six hours while the rest of his team was up and about taking on Covenant forces. When you find a beacon, such as a broken Gauss cannon emplacement, it will trigger a flashback and the player will take control of one of the other ODST squadmates. The first flashback is about Buck, the leader of these ODST soldiers. He’s hard, but also a smart-ass -- kind of like actor Nathan Fillion, whom Buck is modeled after and voiced by. Playing as one of the other ODST soldiers is a sharp contrast compared to playing as the Rookie. The Rookie’s levels are designed to be dark and full of tension; they have a sense of loneliness and are more about exploration. Playing as Buck and the other ODST soldiers feels more like the other Halo games. The sky is bright, there’s a ton of action going on, you’re not alone and the levels are very linear. You’ll have other UNSC forces at your back and your other ODST buddies will aid you in the fight once you’ve gotten back together.
There were plenty of times where I stopped dead in my tracks just to look around in the environment as I played these sections, too. I found myself staring at the sky and distant background and thinking in disbelief multiple times that this is the same engine as Halo 3. You’re going to find yourself doing this at least once to take in the amazing job that the Bungie team did with the visuals.
Score: 8.0 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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