Master Chief is no more. Halo 3: ODST is the next title to release from Bungie Software that comes with a significantly impressive atmosphere that is unheralded of any Halo title seen to date. The challenges seem more consequential, the cooperative action more riveting, and the storyline more compelling. Even though Halo 3: ODST comes with its shares of contentions, the action will bring excitement into anyone that has been playing the Halo series the moment it was announced. Halo 3: ODST presents a canvas into the power of a prequel that leads into the storyline of a central iconic figure and the impact that such a story takes.
The Covenant has been undertaking a monumental genocide of a war against the human race and everything humanity stands to believe in. As the primary bulwark for the war, the African mega-city New Mombasa is under attack on its defenses by the covenant carrier bent on a genocidal campaign. Heavy casualties have already numbered in the thousands and United Nation Space Command Marine Corps. is faced with the task of finding a solution. This solution is the Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST) regiment. The story continues to centralize on the main protagonist of ODST Lance Corporeal the Rookie, a survivor of an orbital drop crash into New Mombasa, Kenya.
Halo 3: ODST accentuates a level of secrecy in gameplay that blends in with the suspenseful storyline and dark atmosphere. The sequence begins from inside an orbital drop capsule, which offers an unforgettable view outside as the capsule wades through the atmosphere to land on The Prophet of Regret’s carrier. Moments before the ODST unit is meant to hit the ground, the unit’s course is changed by an ONI operative named Dare and the Covenant carrier merges into slipspace, generating a shockwave with an EMP that scatters the pods all around the city. Particularly, the Rookie’s pod is slammed by his squadmate Mickey’s pod, damaging the pod’s window, and hence plunging the capsule into free-fall which causes it to crash within New Mombasa far from the correct trajectory. The minute Rookie crashes is the instant the player realizes that Master Chief is not here to help anyone and definitely not the omphalic to the war against the Covenant. The beginning to a longer storyline arch with gameplay just begins. From there, Rookie sets out to assay what exactly occurs with the rest of his force in New Mombasa, while being tasked to find various tracking beacons with pods that reveal such information.
The world of Halo impugns an unforgiving environment to Rookie that is both dangerous and terrifying. Halo 3: ODST provides a different take. Unlike Master Chief, the Rookie can’t jump as high or run as fast or defend himself to that level because he has no shielding capabilities. The ability of firepower is also gone as the squad will be unable to dual-wield weapons. Regardless, Halo 3: ODST provides a handy PDA that will guide players in terms of the map, objectives, checkpoints, and other useful information to completing the campaign. Not only does Rookie get help from this, but he also receives help from the Superintendent, an infrastructure of the city. The new vision mode, Visual Intelligence System, Reconnaissance (VISR), identifies enemies or allies through the HUD interface on Rookie’s helmet’s visor by illuminating objects; green are for allies, red outline for enemies, and yellow for objective-based items. Considering a lot of things in Halo 3: ODST are focused at certain objects or places, Bungie Software provides a useful feature in the VISR as a very well done system that has been added for players to navigate around the world with.
The most prominent display of power in Halo 3: ODST is ultimately the large-scale environment in a small-scale world. While the game does not provide a very massive scale mission structure in terms of many planets, it does provide a significant chance for micro free-roam. Interestingly enough, this free roam counterbalances the flash-back aspects of the game in relation to beacons around the world. When Rookie encounters one of the squadmate’s remnants, he is placed into their historic reality which is primarily linear like previous Halo campaigns. Bungie Software cleverly blends the mystery of these flashbacks and sprinkles it around New Mombasa considering that the player does not know which item triggers each flashback. By creating this linear-free roam dynamic, Bungie makes a terrific harmony to the gameplay that results in a more realistic approach.
The online offerings for Halo 3: ODST feature an online campaign cooperative mode, and a firefight mode. The online cooperative campaign is fun and exciting with up to 4 players in the same context of the single-player campaign, but it is standard when it comes to squad based tactical shooters and presents virtually nothing new. The Firefight mode presents several new gameplay mechanics. Each team is given seven lives, which are shared between them. Extra lives are only given after the completion of each wave, and if all lives are lost, the game ends. The number of waves is unlimited to play through with multiple stages per wave. Skulls are introduced which can then give the enemies extra abilities. They can shoot faster, or evade bullets with extreme ease and even send out dozens of grenades. While Firefight mode does add to the intensity of the teamwork, it is very boorish in terms of presenting anything new. In a similar interaction to Call of Duty: World at War, the Firefight mode is simply a mode which puts players into the level of constantly shooting enemies to no end and for no end while the campaign puts players into an online cooperative action mode with no real reward.
Halo 3: ODST gives the Halo universe something that it has always missed in past iterations: the story of all the brave soldiers of the UNSC who have been overshadowed by man that calls himself Master Chief. While Halo 3: ODST has its problems in the lack of a significant multiplayer offering and with the scale of the world, it creates an experience that a lot of people will remember. Halo 3: ODST adds bravery through combat, reality through suspense, and moreover an interesting take on the universe through the eyes of a Lance Corporeal for whom the war is not just about winning, but about living for the team.