Halo 3 ODST Xbox 360
Published by: Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by: Bungie
Halo 3 ODST is set during the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3. The key difference here of course is that you're not playing as the Master Chief. Instead you'll play as a character known as "Rookie" as well as occasionally playing as other members of a landing party that have just been dropped onto the streets of New Mombasa. The landing doesn't go as planned as the various members of your party have been scattered around. Exploring the dark city of New Mombasa, it's your task to try and locate the various members of your party. Eventually you'll find items that belong to the party members and on finding these items you'll trigger a flashback with you playing as the party member in question.
As an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper you're much more vulnerable to the attacks of the Covenant forces. You'll have to keep an eye on both your stamina and health during the course of the game. Stamina will replenish when you stay out of the firing line but your health won't. To recover health you'll need to find medkits. These can't be stockpiled and are used as soon as you come into contact with one of them. In some respects this makes playing as an ODST a more challenging experience, which is a good thing because the single-player storyline only lasts around six or seven hours (dependent on which of the four difficulty levels you're playing on). Thanks to the checkpoint system you never have to backtrack too far if you come to a sticky end so it never really gets to a point where it can become frustrating. I suppose the one knock against the single-player game is that playing as an ODST isn't as engaging as playing as the Master Chief but it's still a quality FPS experience.
Once you're done with the single-player story you're going to want to dive into the multiplayer modes the game has to offer. The single-player story can be played co-operatively, with support for up to four players and there's even a new mode called Firefight to enjoy. In Firefight you and up to three friends will fight wave after wave of Covenant invaders scoring points for each of them that you kill. It's an interesting diversion but doesn't really compare well to the multiplayer modes found in Halo 3. It's a good job then that Halo 3's multiplayer modes and content have also been included. The multiplayer game is found on the second disk and you'll find, in addition to Halo 3's multiplayer game, all of the available download content and a small collection of new maps. The multiplayer mode is fully compatible with the one found in Halo 3 so you're pretty much guaranteed to find thousands of opponents to play with which is certainly a good thing.
As the game has been created using the same engine as Halo 3 it's no surprise that ODST doesn't look any better. That's not really a problem however as Halo 3 was a fine looking game. The general presentation of the game will also be familiar to you if you've played Halo 3. That said, the heads-up display (HUD) does look a little different this time around. The ODST's helmet comes equipped with a Visual Intelligence System Reconnaissance Class (VISR) which allows you to see enemies in low light (they appear to have a red outline) and data terminals (shown with a yellow outline) which contain all kinds of information. It also enables you to call up a detailed map of New Mombasa and set waypoints, review objectives and replay the logs you'll find at the data terminals.
Whilst the first three Halo games were great it's a shame that they were not as deaf gamer friendly as they could have been. With Halo 2 and Halo 3 we hoped that Bungie would correct these issues and give deaf gamers the full Halo experience. Things improved slightly but they were not great. In fact aside from the cutscenes being subtitled, little was done to make the game accessible for deaf gamers. Fourth time lucky maybe? In truth it's still far from ideal although it's possible to play through the game without any serious issues. There are no captions to alert you to nearby enemy presence which hearing gamers would be aware of (due to the conversations of the Covenant troops). You're going to miss out on a lot of dialogue even though the cutscenes and the logs you'll find in the data terminals are subtitled.
Halo 3 ODST is an enjoyable addition to the Halo catalogue. The single-player campaign, which lasts around six or seven hours is enjoyable and doesn't feel quite as linear as previous Halo games. You may not play as the Master Chief but the game is still a quality experience. The multiplayer portion of the game, is very enjoyable but it's mostly what you've been experiencing ever since the release of Halo 3. That said, it's certainly good value if you've never purchased any of the extra maps, as they are all included here, and there are a few additional ones thrown in for good measure. If you don't own Halo 3 then you're getting even better value out of the package. Essentially, if you enjoyed the Halo titles and appreciate past Bungie FPS titles you'll really enjoy what Halo 3 ODST has to offer. Maybe next time they will make an FPS that's deaf gamer friendly however.