Halo 3: ODST ends a fraction of a fraction after you think to yourself, “Wait, it can’t be over yet, right?” Guess ODST really stands for Oh Do Stop Trying.
The game takes place between Halo 2 and Halo 3, which means nothing to me as this is the first Halo game I’ve ever played. A group of soldiers are dropping down to the planet New Mombasa, which is being attacked by disgruntled aliens calling themselves the Covenant. However, something goes wrong fast, and the party is split up. Everyone in the ODST gangbang has ridiculous names like Romeo and Dutch. Suprised Bungie didn’t toss in a Fabio for good measure. There’s also the Rookie, which nags the silent protagonist role even though you will also play as other members of the group.
The aspect I liked the most about Halo 3: ODST‘s story is that it’s broken, told in pieces, wedged together bit by bit. See, each level switches around who you play as, and it’s also a different time since being dropped on the planet, meaning one level will be bright and sunny on a coastline and the next level might have you running through dark, nighttime streets, desperate to make contact with something that doesn’t want to shoot your face off for dinner. Made for a great mix of settings and styles though the night hours are really dark.
But that’s where the enjoyment ended. Each level felt very much the same to me, and they went a little like this: level start, move forward, come across a group of enemies, shoot and hide, hide and shoot, move forward, come across a group of enemies, shoot and hide, hide and shoot, discover a clue, cutscene. Do that eight to ten more times to get the full effect. There were only a few moments during Halo 3: ODST‘s campaign where the gameplay varied, and these usually involved piloting a vehicle.
There’s some famous voices in the game, too, with actors from Firefly and Battlestar Galactica. They were a little weird to hear at first, especially since Nathan Fillion’s character in Halo 3: ODST is a lady-charmin’, sarcastic captain–a real stretch. Alas, the script they were given did not allow them to act, only read one-liners and make stupid quips in the heat of battle. Kind of a waste.
I had been hoping that I’d finally see the magic that makes everyone go crazy for this series, but alas…no. It’s just a sci-fi FPS in my eyes, with nothing special to it. Some of the enemy designs are interesting, but other than that, it’s just a game where you shoot wave after wave of bullet-bags until something happens. I have to wonder if that’s the same premise for the other games; there wasn’t even a memorable final level here. I escorted the alien worm thing to a safehouse, and then a Covenant ship swooped by to drop off like five waves of enemies, all of which got tougher each wave, but that was it. Several tossed grenades later, the game was over. In that case, the game could’ve really ended on any level.
There’s Achievements for completing the game on higher difficulty levels, but I think I’ll just stick with this one:
Campaign Complete: Normal (100G): Completed the Campaign on Normal difficulty.
Generic alien-fighting solider OUT!
I had to deal with months and months from my coworkers going on about how incredible and emotionally moving this game was. Given they were similarly moved by Gears of War, I wasn’t expecting much, and thanks to this write up, I am comfortable skipping it. 🙂
The sad truth is I think this series is so popular because it is the lowest common denominator. It doesn’t challenge anything, it doesn’t make you think, it doesn’t push any boundaries. It’s all about mute or preposterously macho main characters, a token female, and people feeling like they are awesome space marines doing ridiculous testosterone-y things. The current majority of gaming demographic eats that stuff up.
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