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Halo 3: ODST

Halo 3: ODST

Halo 3: ODST

Halo 3: ODST is a 2009 first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft. It is part of the Halo franchise, and was released on the Xbox 360 video game console on September 22, 2009. Players assume the roles of elite human United Nations Space Command soldiers, known as "Orbital Drop Shock Troopers" or ODSTs, during the events of Halo 2. In the game's campaign mode, players explore the ruined city of New Mombasa to discover what happened to their missing teammates in the midst of an alien invasion. In the "Firefight" multiplayer option, players battle increasingly difficult waves of enemies to score points and survive as long as possible; the Halo 3 multiplayer experience is contained on a separate disc packaged with ODST. New copies of the game also contained access keys to the Halo: Reach multiplayer beta release.

Bungie initially conceived ODST as a small side project to produce in the lull between Halo 3's completion and Halo: Reach. Instead of featuring recognizable characters such as armored protagonist Master Chief, the developers focused on the ODSTs. Story director Joseph Staten penned a detective story utilizing film noir designs, settings, and characters. Composer Martin O'Donnell abandoned his previous Halo themes to create a quieter, jazz-influenced sound. During development, the planned expansion grew in scope to that of a full-sized game. Release marketing for the game included a tie-in comic, live-action trailers, and print and web advertisements.

Upon release, ODST became the top-selling Xbox 360 game worldwide. The title received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the atmosphere, music, and story approach. Reviewers were divided on whether the relatively short campaign and included extras were enough to justify the game's US$60 price tag. The game was the top-selling title in the United States in September 2009, and sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. Softpedia, Time, and Wired were among publications that declared the game one of the year's best.

Halo 3: ODST Plot

The game begins with Dutch, Romeo, and Mickey discussing the Covenant ship above New Mombasa. Buck arrives and introduces Dare. The team enter their HEVs and drop through the atmosphere; at the last minute, Dare changes their trajectory to miss the ship. The Covenant ship enters slipspace, sending a shockwave toward the ODSTs; the Rookie's pod collides with Mickey's and crashes into a building on the ground, knocking him unconscious for six hours. He awakens and proceeds to find clues as to what happened to his squadmates.

Buck makes a rough landing after the drop and fights through Covenant forces to find Dare. He finds Romeo instead, and the two resolve to find the others and get out of the city. Dutch drops near a nature preserve and helps Marines fighting there. Mickey commandeers a tank and fights his way along a Mombasa boulevard. Meeting up with Dutch, the two defend an ONI base from the Covenant, destroying the facility to keep it from being captured. They are evacuated by a transport and make contact with Buck, arranging a rendezvous at police headquarters, but are shot down. Buck and Romeo rescue Dutch and Mickey, but Romeo is seriously wounded. The squad hijacks a Covenant dropship, but instead of leaving the city, Buck decides to turn back and find Dare.

Back in the city, the Rookie is assisted by Virgil (the Superintendent), which leads him to Dare's position. The two reach the Superintendent's data core, which possesses information on something the Covenant is looking for underneath the city. Inside the core, they discover a Covenant Engineer. Dare explains that the Engineers are "biological supercomputers" that have been enslaved by the Covenant, and the one they found wishes to defect to the humans; with the Engineer's information on the Covenant combined with the Superintendent's data, Dare's mission changes from downloading the Superintendent's data to escorting the alien to safety. The Rookie, Dare, and the Engineer reunite with Buck and fight their way out of the city. As they fly away in the transport, the squad watches as Covenant ships destroy New Mombasa.

In the epilogue, one month after the events of the Campaign, the ODST squad has been keeping guard over the Engineer. Sergeant Major Avery Johnson arrives, informing the Engineer that he intends to ask it everything it knows about the Covenant—and what they are looking for—setting the stage for Halo 3. If the campaign is completed on the Legendary difficulty level, a scene shows the Prophet of Truth overseeing the excavation of a Forerunner artifact buried beneath the Superintendent's data core.[31

Halo 3: ODST Gameplay

Halo 3: ODST is a shooter video game with most gameplay taking place from a first-person perspective. The game features an open world environment in the updated Kenyan city of Mombasa, referred to as New Mombasa. Although the gameplay of ODST bears a strong resemblance to that of previous Halo titles, the player does not assume the role of the enhanced human supersoldier Master Chief, protagonist of Halo 3. Instead, the player controls human soldiers known as "Orbital Drop Shock Troopers" or ODSTs. Since ODSTs do not possess the Master Chief's advanced armor and reflexes, they cannot jump as high, move as fast, survive large falls, or wield two weapons at once. Instead of the Master Chief's damage-absorbing energy shield, the game uses a recharging stamina mechanic. After the player sustains damage, the screen flashes red and the stamina score decreases. If the player receives additional damage before the stamina can recover, the player's health is reduced. Loss of all health causes the player character to die and restart at the last saved checkpoint. Medical packs scattered around the game environment can restore the player's health. The player's head-up display (HUD) includes a "VISR" mode that outlines enemies in red, allies in green, and items of interest in either blue or yellow.

Reception
Halo 3: ODST garnered generally positive reviews. It holds an average of 84.77% and 83/100 on aggregate web sites Game Rankings and Metacritic, respectively. Time's Lev Grossman wrote ODST was a "milestone" as it proved "Bungie can use the same instrument to play in totally different key," adding to the longevity of the Halo franchise. In contrast, Pete Metzger of the Los Angeles Times wrote that although ODST was a good game with a compelling story, action, and graphics, "the same can be said for nearly every first-person shooter that is released these days" and that ODST failed to raise the bar set by previous Halo games. 1UP.com's Jeremy Parish noted that while ODST had its flaws, its greatest success was bringing together players who preferred either the multiplayer or campaign portions with a game that would satisfy both camps.

Critics were split on whether ODST was worth its price. Official Xbox Magazine critic Ryan McCaffrey confidently wrote that given the campaign, multiplayer mode, and second Halo 3 multiplayer disc, "no one should have any qualms about ODST's value as a $60 offering!" Other critics who judged the title a full game included the staff of Edge Magazine, Parish, and Computer and Video Games' Mike Jackson. Erik Brudvig of IGN did not consider ODST a "true sequel", but more than an expansion, and recommended that those hesitant about buying the game do so. Those who disagreed included Ars Technica's Ben Kuchera, GamesRadar's Charlie Barratt, Eurogamer's Tom Bramwell, and IGN Australia's Narayan Pattison. In The New York Times' Seth Schiesel wrote that "Microsoft Game Studios has overreached in trying to charge the typical retail price for a full game, around $60, for a product that either should cost $40 or have a lot more content for the single-player aspect of the product."

Critics also disagreed sharply regarding whether the game was a large step forward for the series. Parish said that less enemy variety was balanced by changes he considered the most experimental things Bungie had done for years. Edge and Bramwell praised the contrast between the Rookie's nighttime segments and the more fast-paced flashback vignettes. Edge added that while the narrative design was not groundbreaking, it served as a structure for exploring every possible weapon choice and strategy in the series. While Parish considered the ODST's abilities much different from those of the Chief, other critics such as Jackson wrote that the Halo feel was barely changed and that this was not detrimental. Brett Molina of USA Today felt that the game disappointed by not spending more time in the Rookie's open environment; "instead," Molina wrote, "roughly two-thirds of ODST's combat feels very much like a traditional Halo game" instead of exploring new mechanics.

ODST's visuals and atmosphere were praised. McShea wrote that while the Halo 3 engine was showing its age, the game could still "wow" because of the art design. Parish wrote that the feel of Mombasa changed dramatically when played cooperatively; G4TV found that additional players spoiled much of the solitary feel. Travis Moses of GamePro wrote that while the game's graphics were consistently outclassed by other shooters, the game's frame rate remained consistently high as expected from Halo games. Technology company DigitalFoundry said that, despite welcome improvements in AI, the main flaws from Halo 3's graphics engine—namely a sub-720p native resolution and lower-quality human faces—remained.

The game's audio and sound were lauded. McCaffrey wrote that while the music of Halo 3 was "too familiar", ODST had freed O'Donnell to "craft his best work yet", which the critic considered good enough for a standalone purchase. A significant departure from the consensus was offered by Kuchera, who wrote that the saxophone touches " like the softcore porn they show on Cinemax after midnight", and GameSpy's Anthony Gallegos, who felt that the music did not mesh when extended into combat segments.

Firefight was praised as "addictive", especially for showcasing the excellent artificial intelligence of enemies. Jeff Marchiafava of Game Informer credited the enemies with differentiating Firefight from similar game modes in games such as Gears of War 2 or Left 4 Dead, which featured mindless zombies or cannon fodder. The staff of Official Xbox Magazine UK wrote that the gametype's depth and options made Gears of War's comparable mode look "simple" in comparison, and that Firefight extended the life of the game. In contrast, Bramwell felt that in Firefight "there is both a sense of futility in the knowledge that death is only a matter of time and odds, and fatigue in the realisation that many levels play out just as they did in the campaign, except a bit more so".

Interviewed by G4TV, Bungie representatives saw part of the mixed and negative reception as stemming from their own marketing of the title—first as an expansion pack, then a full game. "If you look at the lower scores, they almost all cite an issue in perceived value based on an initial expectation that was set for an 'expansion' and then a feeling that they were overcharged for the final product," Jarrad said, echoing Staten's comment that "if we'd never said the words 'expansion pack' we would have seen an appreciable increase in the review scores". Other elements they wish they had improved had they the time were the pacing and navigation of the nighttime segments and matchmaking for Firefight. Halo manager 343 Industries director Frank O'Connor said that he was glad ODST "didn't take off", in his view, because it allowed people to focus on Reach and its launch and marketing.


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