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    dkirschner's Halo 3: ODST (360)

    [May 11, 2013 08:02:29 PM]
    I'm torn about this Halo game. It's obviously just a placeholder in between Halo 3 and Halo Reach. It took me 6-7 hours only, 3 sittings over a week. The story is simple and doesn't have strong ties to the others. The characters kept mentioning something about "like on Reach" but I have no idea what they were referring to, and I just played Reach. In ODST, the Covenant appear above a city somewhere in Africa, and I think above other Earthly cities. The entirety of the conflict between the Covenant and your ODST team here is that the Covenant is searching for something. That's it. Your ODST team dropped in to complete a mission, with fuzzy secretive orders, but something went wrong on drop and the team was scattered throughout the city. You play as the Rookie and you play this detective game to find all your drop team members.

    Basically there are two phases to the game. The first is when you play as Rookie, wandering through the mostly deserted city tracking down beacons. Fights against the Covenant are scarce and often avoidable. When you near a beacon, you need to turn on, I don't know what it's called, night vision or something. This looks like Batman's detective mode or various other vision modes that highlight enemies and useful objects in other games. Activate night vision and you can follow the beeping sound emanating from whatever beacon object to find it. When you find the object, there is a little scene showing, as if tapping into the memory of the object, what it "saw" in the past, which is a snippet of story about what happened to one or more members of your team.

    Then you enter the second phase, which is to play through that memory. This is the meat of the game with the typical Halo gameplay - drive vehicles, kill Covenant, work with ally AI, reach checkpoints, and so on. Once you complete that part of whichever teammate's story, the game brings you back to Rookie in the city to find another beacon. You go through this back and forth until Rookie finds out that his team has all pretty much found one another, but then he hears a distress call from the captain, earlier presumed dead. Rookie goes and hooks up with her and there is a final mission to locate and then rescue some alien bio-computer called an Engineer. Again, this guy seems like he's supposed to have some connection to the rest of the Halo story in other games, but I can't remember anything about Engineers or aliens who look like this one, a floating brain with appendages thing. And before you know it, with no fanfare or anything, the credits roll.

    The strong point of Halo: ODST is the storytelling. The Halo Noir detective story presentation is fresh. Find a clue about your team, then play through what happened from other characters' perspectives who left that object there, or who destroyed that bridge that Rookie is standing at the edge of, or who were captured on security footage of that camera, and so on. The other characters' trajectories all link up by the end and, although the story itself isn't much to praise, it's the structure of it that I liked.

    The weak point of Halo: ODST is that neither phase (detective or mission) is exciting. The detective phase with Rookie is a lot of aimless wandering through the city in the dark. Your night vision is almost always on because it highlights Covenant in easy-to-spot red outlines. I just looked at my map and tried to go from point A to the waypoint point B as efficiently as possible. The aesthetics of the abandoned city under siege somewhat make up for this, and the same can be said for the mission part, because there are fires and Covenant ships flying by and massive background scenery and all that, but there is really nothing to do, nothing going on, except to trek from point A to point B in a rather uneventful fashion. In the mission parts, the game is completely on rails. There is no exploration whatsoever. You usually get in a vehicle and let your teammates drive you around, or you drive them around. But in other Halo games, there are multiple approaches, you can explore the terrain, devise clever strategies for taking out Covenant outposts. In this one it's just linear set pieces. Drive along this 2-lane road for 20 minutes. Defend this building for 20 minutes. They're coming from the left so aim left! Now they're coming from the right so aim right! Escort this guy from here to there on a path with no alternate routes. It just lacked excitement and failed to engage me very deeply. In fact, when I played the other night, I started playing a game with myself: How long can I play Halo: ODST with only my right hand on the controller? The answer was that I hit several 20-minute stretches where I literally just needed to aim and shoot with my right hand and drink coffee with my left hand.

    I guess I'm happy to have played the game, but I would have rather been left with the awesome impressions from 2, 3, and Reach. I will just look even more forward to playing 4!
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    dkirschner's Halo 3: ODST (360)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Monday 6 May, 2013

    GameLog closed on: Saturday 11 May, 2013

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Halo Noir. Interesting twist on the usual aesthetics of the series. Detective element to it, and change in narrative style. Cool. ---------------- Not very exciting, game on rails. Linear, no exploration. Good storytelling though!

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

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