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ODST brings different gameplay to Halo genre

Thomas Dale
Staff Writer

 ODST is a bit of a strange beast.  After Bungie’s split from Microsoft immediately after the release of Halo 3, rumors sparked up about a new, Bungie-developed Halo game that would star the space Marines in a tactical, squad-based shooter.  When Halo 3: Recon was finally announced in October of last year, it was revealed that the game was actually going to be an expansion for Halo 3—light on content, but with a noticeably smaller price.  Recon debuted at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) this year with a new name, a new multiplayer mode, and a new price tag: $60.  Even the game’s E3 demo failed to build hype and longtime fans were left wondering, “Did Bungie just pull a fast one on us?”
 It’s debatable.  Certainly, ODST is a much different game than any other Halo, but not for the reasons you might expect.  As far as game play goes, expect ODST to play almost exactly like Halo 3; strange, considering that Bungie themselves have long preached the differences between Halo’s machine-altered-space-savior Master Chief and The Rookie, a relative weakling whose type has served as measly cannon-fodder since Halo 2.  The Rookie might be a little slower and jump a little lower (and I mean just a little), but you’d be hard pressed to find any other difference; he still chunks grenades like a major league pitcher and flips jeeps like they were made of Styrofoam.  Bungie definitely played it safe when it comes to Halo’s grenade and gun formula, and in a way it’s very disappointing.
 Oddly enough, it’s ODST’s narrative that has received the biggest overhaul from Halo tradition.  Taking the view point out of Master Chief’s helmet has allowed Bungie to do some interesting things.  Gone is the overly dramatic space opera from the previous trilogy of games; instead, players are treated to a smaller scale story about a scattered squad of soldiers.  The plot is typical why-were-we-sent-here war movie fare, but it remains entirely more interesting than Halo 3’s creepy Spartan/computer love story. 
 Another first for the Halo series is the game’s open-world hub city, New Mombasa.  For the most part, your character is free to roam through the alien-infested metropolis, seeking out clues to the rest of your squad’s disappearance.  New Mombasa is a fairly interesting environment to explore, little touches like gratified walls and busted cars actually make the environment seem a little lived in.  The city’s steady rain and dim streetlights lend to a more somber, lonely tone to the game, and the new saxophone filled soundtrack is an oddly perfect fit.
 The one new multiplayer mode is Firefight, a cooperative enemy hunt that’s nearly identical to Gear’s of War 2’s Horde mode: players’ team up with three friends to take on endless waves of ugly aliens.  ODST changes it up from Gears of War’s similar mode by giving the players a communal pool of lives and resources to draw upon; it adds an extra layer of strategy and makes the game that more interesting. 
 Also in the package is a second disc containing the original Halo 3’s multiplayer in its entirety, including all 24 available maps (three of which are brand new).  The disc is great for Halo fans who skipped over the downloadable map packs, but more or less a waste of space for people who paid a premium for the maps when they were first released. 
 Is ODST worth the $60?  Yes and no—if you have two or three friends who are interested in sinking some time into Firefight with you, and you missed out on the downloadable map packs, then you’ll easily get your $60 worth out of the game.  If you have no interest in the game’s co-op modes, then save your cash– the too-short campaign can be easily finished in less than a rental.

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One comment

  1. FIRSTIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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