I have been a huge fan of the Halo franchise since being introduced to the first title on the original Xbox. I’ve eagerly read each book based off the series (I know… I’m a nerd) and picked up each new game installment on release day… with the exception of this one. This is most likely due to the fact that I was tired of playing online multi-player with the thousands of annoying kids. The anonymity that xbox live provides (through use of gamer-tags or screen names) seems to inject this “I-am-untouchable-therefore-I-can-say-anything-and-get-away-with-it” attitude. Parents, if you don’t know or haven’t played online before, you should hear what some of these kids say. It’s simply appalling.
Anyway (just a short rant there)… Taking place between Halo 2 and 3, you play as an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (an elite marine) on a Recon mission. Your mission is to discover what the Covenant is after in New Mombasa (a human city recently occupied by the alien race). As you descend through the atmosphere in your drop pod, things go wrong and you end up separated from your team. Awaking from the crash several hours later, your new mission is to find out what happened to each of your squad mates. Given clues as to their last known whereabouts, you have the freedom to roam New Mombasa as you wish. Finding evidence of their location prompts a flashback where you actually get to play as that team member. Each team member’s mission varies greatly depending on their specialty, location, and current objectives.
The single-player gameplay is pretty much the same as what you will find in the Halo series – great cinematic moments and epic firefights. However, I did feel as if the enemy AI was just that much smarter. They would flank, hide, runaway, or even try to gain an advantage by acquiring a better weapon or vehicle. In one instance, I thought I cleared an area only to be surprised by an enemy who was hiding. Sneaky bugger.
New FireFight Mode
This mode is what really separates it from the other titles in the franchise. Taking cues from games like Gears of War, this mode is basically like your survival mode. You can play with up to 3 other friends online and your objective is to defend against waves of Covenant. Each wave increases in difficulty and can provide for a very chaotic setting. It’s a great change of pace from your death-match or objective-based game variants.
As a huge bonus for the game, you also get every available map pack for online multi-player.
Although it may not be for every gamer (I know many who refuse to play this game), Halo 3: ODST is a great standalone game that any fan of the franchise should pick up. It has your typical Halo game play with loads of goodies to keep you coming back for more.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Replay value: High