Halo 3: Orbital Drop Shock Trooper Review

by Brian McCaffrey

Let me preface this by saying that I am a Halo fanatic. I’ve read the books, I’ve obviously played the games, and one of the few tattoos I would ever consider getting involves the number 117. That being said, ODST is a good game but it’s not an amazing game. The only reason this game has the Halo 3 title is because it markets to the mass crowds better that way.

First off, if you’re expecting this game to be like any of the other Halo games you will be disappointed. Sure, the covenant enemies and plenty of glorious ways to beat or shoot them still exist. Yet, the point of this game is to feel different than the other Halo games because you aren’t Master Chief anymore. That is pretty apparent from the start, as you can’t simply run into any situation and magically gun your way out like you could as a Spartan. That’s actually one feature of the game I do enjoy though, because it makes it a harder game since you can’t just rely on your running and gunning skills.

Along with the difference in strategy and game feel, the music, scenery, and plot set this game apart from other Halo entries in the series. The music is often much more mellow, which means sometimes you’re killing Covenant to soft jazz music. The music in the game is well done, but it is vastly different than the traditional Halo music you’re probably accustomed to. The scenery also looks very little like it did in Halo 3, even though you were in the same city. Not to the point where you doubt it’s the same planet, but certainly noticeable enough. The lighting at times can also be slightly frustrating because outside scenes can literally be blinding and painful to the eyes. Finally, the plot is much less epic than that of Master Chief’s adventures. This makes sense since you aren’t the “hope of the race” as you are in the other Halo games. All of these things were done on purpose to set this game apart from the others, which ODST succeeds in doing.

Despite the game doing a lot of things well, there are still problems with the characters and plot of the story. The idea of telling a story through playable flashbacks is extremely intriguing, but could have been developed and utilized in more unique ways. The characters are where ODST really fails, however. All of the ODST soldiers are one-dimensional and overplayed archetypes. The books play out some really cool interactions between ODST soldiers and other humans, especially in regards to Master Chief. None of these more complex relationships are even hinted at in ODST. The characters do have some one-liners that are mildly entertaining, but usually they end up being more of an annoyance. These characters would have worked well as normal soldiers, but definitely not as ODST’s who are supposed to be the most elite soldiers.

Although there are some disappointments in the single player, ODST does shine through in the multiplayer aspect. Firefight has proven itself to be one of the most fun co-operative experiences a game has offered in a long time. It is insanely fun to gather up a few friends and take on waves and waves of covenant. Granted, this mode is a rip off of Horde or Nazi Zombies but it is done extremely well. Throw in the complete Halo 3 multiplayer experience with all the map packs and you have a nice multiplayer experience.

Ultimately, ODST is a good game. It could have been better if the plot and characters were more complex, as this is a mature game and should be tailored to an advanced audience. Yet, as always, the multiplayer features save the Halo game. Getting four people and quickly jumping into killing covenant is a blast that is sure to entertain at least until Reach comes out.