If you've been following, you know that Halo: ODST ships on September 22nd, and with it comes a brand new gameplay experience. " Firefight" is a multiplayer cooperative that is completely new to the Halo universe -- up to four players team up together on new maps to take down waves of Covenant bastards.
It's Bungie's answer to what they hear as a fan outcry for a multiplayer experience that is more cohesive than team slayer and involves AI. Personally, I was getting sick of being repeatedly "pwned" from behind by Mythic players online, and I can't imagine it was any fun for them either, so Firefight is pretty exciting for multiple reasons.
More after the break.
Halo 3: ODST (Xbox 360)
"Firefight" isn't a new concept to the world of online multiplayer first person shooters -- Gears of War 2 has "Horde," for example -- but it is the first of its kind in the Halo series. Built to encourage -- nay, demand -- cohesive team play, "Firefight" starts the players off together in position to take on waves of Covenant from dropships in what might be the most brutal assault I've ever witnessed in the Halo universe. Let's get one thing straight: "Firefight" hits you hard. It's as though someone injected the grunts with angry wasps. In their butts. Then handed them grenades, showed them a picture of an ODST, and pushed them off the side of the dropship.
As the first four team members loaded the game up and debated their difficulty level, I caught a glimpse of Designer Lars Bakken's shoulders shrugging in what seemed like a stifled chuckle. There was something about the way he said "That's a bad idea" that made everyone stop and look at him, cursors hovering over Heroic. They soon found out why.
Suddenly the Master Chief "tactics" no longer apply. You can't just run out with a sword and take down Grunts one by one, knowing your shields will take the peripheral damage. You can't let grenades scrape you as they fly by. You can't take chances. Well, unless you want to hear Fillion's impressions of a dead and dying ODST (which is sort of exciting). But then you use up one of your team's precious shared lives -- you start with seven in the first round. That's less than two deaths for each of you, remember, and you'd better hope it doesn't happen before the Chieftains show up.
As the first wave hits, you attempt to pick off as many enemies as possible from far away. Depending on what wave of which round you're on, Skulls are activated, starting with "Tough Luck" and adding others ("Catch," "Black Eye," "Tilt," "Famine") as the game progresses. Each round has five waves, and as you eliminate a wave you get a breather to dash out and collect dropped weapons (brutal when "Famine' is on), before the screen flashes the word "REINFORCEMENTS," and the next dropship comes in. Or you hear sirens indicating that they're about to pour through the darkened doorways around you. Activate VISR when you hear those, and thank me later for telling you what the sirens were about. No one told us. SUPPLIIIEES!
As I stood behind a team that was about to finish up their last Chieftain, Lars quickly called everyone over to witness what was going to be the first testing team to pass round 1 on heroic. Just as the shoulders relaxed and they remembered to breathe, a giant grin showed up on Lars's pretty little sadistic face and each of the four screens flashed the words "BONUS ROUND," with a sixty second counter ticking away. All Skulls were immediately highlighted and each player scrambled to grab their controllers as a flood of Covenant slaughtered them in record time. Remember, the point of "Firefight" is to get the highest score possible, so while the Bonus Round might not last long, the points are worth it. Just save a grenade or two for the kill, and enjoy the mayhem. You won't last long anyway.
You're really there to watch each other's backs, and most of your close calls will end well because of team members. It allows players of varying skill level to work together towards a greater goal, which is a huge difference from the "pwning noobs" attitude I've encountered thus far. Hell, even I saved the team once or twice, and I can't explain how good it felt to be last man standing and take out that remaining Jackal, reviving my team as I did so - even if I was the worst player in the room. It sort of gave me the warm fuzzies, I have to admit. And that on its own is special.