Latest HALO delivers a solid game, but drops the excitement level from previous outings

  1. Editor's Rating
  • E-Mail
HALO 3: ODST The latest in the HALO series puts you in the armour of an Orbital Drop Shock Troop, named The Rookie
More pics ›
By  Mark Sutton Published  November 3, 2009

Ratings Breakdown

Editor's Rating:
  • Overall:
Key Specs

Age rating: 17+
Number of players: 1
Online play: Y
Price: $54
Release date: 22/9/2009

Display complete specs ›

While Master Chief might be drifting somewhere out in space until the next time we need him, the HALO franchise is still active, with this latest addition from Bungie - HALO3: ODST.

This new game doesn't feature the big guy himself, but rather puts you in the shoes of a mere grunt ‘The Rookie' - an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST) fighting in the city of New Mombassa in the early stages of the Covenant's invasion of Earth.

The developers have said that they didn't simply want to put out a game that would essentially be a HALO clone, given that it uses the same engine, so the idea was to make the player more vulnerable and less super human than Master Chief, and mix in more tactical flexibility and choice.

To an extent, the game delivers on this - you can't dual-wield weapons, and you'll need to find medical assistance if you are too badly wounded. You also find that enemies the Spartan could just breeze through will give you a much tougher fight. Getting a kicking from a pair of Grunts comes as quite a shock.

The story unfolds as you take part in an orbital assault on the Covenant invasion force, but you get separated from your squad, and the plot centres around your attempts to find out what has happened to them.

A lot was made about the fact that this outing would be more of an open world game than previous HALO installments, but really, its pretty much as ‘on rails' as other HALOs, and it's the biggest problem with ODST.

As you search the city for your squad, you'll get an occasional choice of route to take, and you'll eventually be given access to a wider area of city where you can choose the order that you explore, but this is no free roaming GTA-style city.

As you find clues as to what happened to your buddies, the game will switch to flashbacks, and you take on the role of the missing troopers. The flashbacks throw up a bit of variety, with missions taking place in different locations inside and outside of the city, with some different landscapes and a few interactive vehicles, but that's about as varied as it gets.

When you are exploring the city as the Rookie, there's very little variation, one or two vehicles, and mostly you are funneled along samey-looking city streets, with only a few choices of which direction to take. The few buildings you can enter have virtually identical looking interiors, and there's not really a lot to interact with.

As usual, the music is superb, and goes a long way to adding atmosphere and building the excitement, but there's not quite the epic scale of previous outings either. The single player campaign is a bit short, and the finale was a bit flat.

There is only one minor collect-the-items side quest, no NPCs, and no upgrades or other stuff to explore. Add to that the fact that its almost all the same weapons, the same aliens and the same vehicles, and ODST really does come across as a bit of fill-in product until Master Chief decides to come out of hibernation.

Multiplayer adds some new modes and maps, which will be a big draw for multiplay fans, but it's still dependent on being able to get decent access to Xbox Live, which we still have trouble with given crappy broadband services on offer.

One big point in favour of HALO 3: ODST is the low price - at 199dhs in the UAE, it's a price point that makes the difference between us recommending giving ODST a miss or borrowing off a friend, and suggesting that it's cheap enough to be worth a look. There's nothing actually wrong with ODST, it is just not that different from HALO 3 to make it a game to get really excited about.

Pros: A solid HALO game, at a good price, with strong multiplayer
Cons: Looks like HALO, but a sort of less-varied, less exciting version of HALO

Worth a look for HALO fans, and cheap too, but still a bit disappointing.

Your Review

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)


Tell us what you like about this product. This field is optional

Tell us what you don't like about this product. This field is optional

Explain to us in detail why you like or dislike the product, focusing your comments on the product's features and functionality. This field is optional

Security code