“Halo 3: ODST” is a good game. Narratively it feels like a mixture of “Rogue One” and since it exists as the story inbetween “Halo 2” and “Halo 3” it has quite a few events it has to cover to get there. Overall, the gameplay is some of the best it has been and my only big problem with it is some of the writing, which I’ll get into below. Besides that, if you’ve enjoyed the “Halo Franchise” so far and haven’t played this yet, you should.
The story was written by Joseph Staten with the game developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios.
The story follows Rookie when he and his team of ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers) land in New Mombasa. They are lead by Buck (Nathan Fillion) and are being led by Dare (Tricia Helfer) on a secret mission.
The Gameplay – The gameplay is really good in this. You aren’t an immortal Spartan so you can’t regenerate your help and need to find safety and play more cautious. I loved this as I felt as vulnerable as the marines as I was playing as. The vehicle sections are also the best outside of “Reach” as you get a good tank, warthog and flying mission and the final throws everything at you so you get to use all the skills you’ve picked up and used throughout the game. It is fantastic.
The Opening – The opening starts out with the ODST team clashing amongst themselves before the jump. They jump and Regret’s Cruiser jumps to the Halo Ring in “Halo 2” leaving our team separated.
The Mystery – Rookie is who is the main POV in the game and it is through his eyes you see him put together what happened in New Mombasa. You get Sadie’s logs (the civilian story) while discovering what happened to your teammates. It is well done and the Covenant threat is constant as you see them send more troops to occupy.
The ODST – The ODST have a good dynamic though I prefer the Spartans from “Reach.” The Spartans die so they didn’t need to be fleshed out as much as they needed to because of the sacrifice. Here, they all survive so it ends up being the talent that carries the characters. Fillion’s Buck is smarmy, Dare (Tricia Helfer) is distrusting, Romeo (Nolan North) hates, Dutch (Adam Baldwin) likes the blow things up and Mickey (Nathan Fillion) is anxious. The “Firefly” actors are playing to type and they do a good job it just left more questions though. We could have got more scenes or played as more than the voiceless Rookie. I still liked them, but their potential was not fully used.
Sadie’s Story – Sadie’s story is powerful as you see her talking to the A.I. of the city while trying to escape and dealing with the corruption within New Mombasa. I’d recommend just listening to her voice files as the civilian story is one that is rarely told in these games. This element elevated the game.
The Engineer – Another cool thing the game did was show us another alien fighting against the Covenant. The Engineer is the asset you protect in the final 2 missions and he gives Avery Johnson the data he needs leading to the initial UNSC assault in “Halo 3.”
Romeo’s Unexplained Hate – Romeo really hates Dare and hates Buck. We never learn why so he just comes off as cruel and mean. I hated this as there are stories there to mine. What is the relationship between the ODST’s and Intelligence? Did he have a prior history with Dare? Why does he hate Romeo? These are all things that could have been fixed in 2 lines of dialogue.
Buck and Dare’s Lovestory – I hated this. We learn Buck proposed to Dare and she didn’t answer and thought that they were going to die in the war. Them being in love is fine but beyond defending each other we never get anything deeper. Cortana and Master Chief are done better and that isn’t a well written romance. These writers right politics better than romance.
This is a game I’d rate on part with “Halo 3,” they had similar flaws. Both of them didn’t fully flesh out elements of the story but still managed to tell a good action story. I thought I’d want more loss given these are ODSTs and not Spartans but the fact that your entire team survives feels earned, which really is a testament to how great this gameplay is. The tension in each of the missions is real and I hope we get back to this type of storytelling in “Halo: Infinite.”
Final Score: 8.8 / 10 On par with “Halo 3.”