The Galleon - Portsmouth's Student Newspaper

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Technology and Gaming

Halo 3: ODST – Game Review

The Halo series has been going strong since the release of ‘Halo: Combat Evolved’ emerged as one of the Xbox’s lead launch titles back in 2001. Over the past eight years, the Halo franchise has expanded monumentally and continued to go from strength to strength. The final instalment of the main trilogy, ‘Halo 3′ was released in September 2007 and, despite its age, still has an online multi-player following in the millions. The newest instalment of the Halo franchise and the second spin-off to be released is ‘Halo 3: ODST’.

The game takes place between Halo 2 and Halo 3, and allows the player to take control of a human Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST), who’s dropped into the ruined city of ‘New Mombasa’. The core First person shooter style and feel of the game is unchanged from its predecessors, but subtle modifications have been implemented in order to highlight your vulnerabilities as a human. No longer can you charge straight in, guns blazing; now you’ll be forced to take cover and sneak around picking off your enemies strategically. Alongside this, the health packs last seen in ‘Halo: Combat Evolved’ have returned and you no longer possess the rechargeable energy shield of the Spartan Super Soldier. Despite all this the game still possessed a very familiar feel to it. It was like coming back to an old friend rather than learning to play a whole new game.

The campaign mode was disappointingly short and was completed in co-op in about 6 hours. Keep in mind though neither I nor my co-op partner could be considered as “n00bs” in the Halo genre, and have played through all three previous Halos on the hardest difficulties. What was a pleasant surprise was the sandbox style of the main hub in the new game. Skulking around in the dark with your light enhanced visor dodging the roaming covenant patrols was a whole new experience and really did well to set the scene and the atmosphere of the new game.

The real meat of this game though, as with any Halo game, was the multi-player. The new “Fire-Fight” mode pits up to four ODST against an endless waves of increasingly difficult covenant (alien) forces. The player has a limited number of lives and with each wave completed a “skull” is activated, modifying the behaviour of the covenant forces. These modifications vary from increasing the difficulty of the enemy AI to making them annoyingly adept at evasion. ‘Halo 3: ODST’ is a fantastic game, but I think it’s somewhat overshadowed by its older brothers.

If ODST was the first Halo game to come out reviewers would rant and rave about it like no other, but on the heels of the first three Halo games ODST seems a little too much like more of the same. But please don’t take this as a criticism, as I’m a firm believer of the old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”! A bonus feature of purchasing Halo3: ODST is that you will also gain access to all the Halo multi-player maps, many of which would otherwise have to be purchased separately from Xbox Live. Halo3: ODST posses a lot of positive features; a unique style to storytelling never before seen in the Halo series, a new multi-player experience and some quality voice acting, but when so similar to its predecessors in all other respects, is it deserving of its £35 price tag? Simply put…yes..

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