Halo 3 ODST Review

There are some glaring omissions in this digital version of the game, but Halo 3 ODST’s campaign is well worth playing if you’re into the space opera’s lore.

What would a Halo game where you didn’t play as Master Chief be like? That’s the question that famed developer Bungie tried to answer with Halo 3 ODST, a title that sounds and feels like an expansion to Halo 3 but features some gameplay changes and a new look. There are some glaring omissions in this digital version of the game, but Halo 3 ODST’s campaign is well worth playing if you’re into the space opera’s lore.

The year is 2552 and you play as different members of the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers or ODST. The game takes place during the events of Halo 2 in the African city of New Mombasa after the alien alliance known as the Covenant attack your ship. You’re playing as an unnamed protagonist called the Rookie who’s investigating what happened to his teammates Buck, Dutch, Romeo, Mickey and Dare. As he investigates, he needs to not only defeat any immediate threat, but also locate key items that belonged to those soldiers and trigger a flashback. Whenever you encounter one of those items, you play as a soldier in a scene that happened earlier in the main story.

Despite being set in the same timeline as Halo 2 and running on Halo 3’s graphics engine, ODST has a couple of new features. There’s a completely new soundtrack, so instead of listening to the traditional vocal arrangements with electric guitars, this time around you’ll be exposed to a jazzy soundtrack that’s more fitting that you’d think for a Halo game. Visually, ODST uses the same graphics engine as Halo 3, but the environments are completely different. Yet the best part about ODST is the possibility of playing a Halo campaign without playing as Master Chief and the gameplay implications that has.

There are some gameplay changes that make ODST feel completely different to any previous Halo game. Since you’re playing as human soldiers instead of Master Chief, you can’t jump as high, move as fast, survive some falls, wield two weapons at once and the regenerating health has been replaced by a stamina meter. Finally, to help you locate your objectives once you’re in a mission, you have access to a heads-up display known as VISR which outlines the design of each level, as well as mark enemies red, allies green and any points of interest yellow.

As the name suggests, Halo 3 ODST: Campaign Edition features the single-player mode which should take you around 7 hours to complete on normal difficult. Apart from that, Firefight is also included which is a series of levels where you play wave-based challenges. This mode can be quite entertaining, but unfortunately, not a lot of people are playing online, so if you really want to try this mode, you need to either play alone of set up a LAN to play locally which is not that practical.

Originally, when Halo 3 ODST came out physically, the game came packed with a second disc that included all of Halo 3’s multiplayer modes. Campaign Edition has none of those modes. To make up for this, the game’s available for $14.99. Despite the cheaper price, this is the inferior package if you want to experience the full game and even if I didn’t miss those multiplayer modes, I know a lot of people are into them.

Halo 3 ODST doesn’t raise the bar set by previous Halo games or other first-person shooters. There are some flaws, such as the lack of Halo 3’s multiplayer modes. Yet the flashback vignettes, unconventional narrative style, new characters and terrific atmosphere make ODST worth playing nonetheless.