So yes, I did blow $60.00 on this damned game. While I thought Halo 3 was okay and definitely playable, I do not find ODST any better. Was missing all the fun of Halo 3 because of missing weapons, horrible repeats of bad habits and most importantly the worst plot of a Halo game since…ever.
Let me start with the new feature of ODST off the bat. The worst night vision visor ever made. I’m serious. Take a look at all the supposedly “new” features of the game and all you’ve got is the visor and it’s not even that good. The problem with the visor is that it’s basically an green flashlight instead of say the one from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare where it turns everything in your eyes green and actually amplifies light. Oh sure it highlights and outlines enemies, allies and weapons and stuff, but that’s totally useless since all but two missions take place in broad daylight and when your visor is on during the day you basically see a green blob. What could have fixed this? Two things. One, the visor was a fantastic idea. When getting combat data being able to see allies and enemies easily is essential. But the major issue I have is the fact that it’s tied with night vision. Separate the two and boom, you’ve got perfection. Secondly is the lack of the actual night vision. As I said before it’s like a green flashlight and it’s barely effective at anything.
With night vision and the visor comes the inevitable “stealth” gameplay. Now when it comes to stealth games there are some games that are better than others. While I don’t want to steal from Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw too much, after he gave extremely favorable reviews to Thief: The Dark Project and Thief II: The Metal Age I decided for myself I had to check them out and indeed they are quite excellent at stealth and certainly better than Metal Gear Solid, a game I once thought to be the best at stealth (that is, until MGS4 came out and shit all over it). So attempting to take what I know about first person stealth games and applying it to ODST doesn’t work. I found myself trying to avoid combat rather than get into it since most of the mission objectives are variations on “go here” and “press button”. But in practice however this pretty much useless. All missions are just variations of firefights and involve practically no stealth at all. When you first start the game you have to look for your squadmates, but the game doesn’t proceed until you murder three squads, wait for another one to appear and repeat just to get your first mission objective.
Oh, I almost forgot. While I’m on that subject, why are we playing as a Spartan-II? (For those of you who have played ODST, stay with me on this one) You have all the features of a Spartan-II from regenerating shields-err…”stamina”-the ability to jump a couple stories down without breaking your legs, the ability to commandeer and drive any vehicle and of course the ability to carry a hundred kilo mounted gun and hold it steady enough to fire. This is not playing as a real solider as Bungie would have us think. As my old friend Josh said “If I hadn’t watched the intro to the game I would have thought I was playing as Master Chief”. Personally, I would have loved a game more along the lines of the old style health systems. While I probably do hold Perfect Dark in too high of standard, at least that game had everything going for it except for a lousy framerate. (Unrelated, I am totally psyched for it’s release on Xbox Live)
Now I should mention the other “new ” things. You have the magnum that has now been “silenced” and the SMG with a suppressor and a visor scope. Now the silencer doesn’t work for obvious reasons. You can see an enemy maybe 100m out, fire a shot into the air and he will still hear you, even if he isn’t facing you. This game provides no new weapons and frankly the magnum is still as worthless as it always was. When someone said it was a throwback to Combat Evolved they were lying out of their space marine ass. The original CE pistol can one-shot kill with a chest shot. The one in ODST takes four. On easy. To kill a grunt. The gun’s use is to headshot things and for that it’s good at it, but that’s all it is good for.
But let me get into the worst part of the game. It’s two stories. First is the main story where you play as the rookie, a faceless, nameless, emotionless moron that bears more in common with Master Chief than anyone. He runs around a city that’s far too big for it’s own good picking up these ridiculous “clues” to figure out where his squadmates are. When I say ridiculous clues, the clues include: A recon helmet, a fighter drone camera, a broken and bent sniper rifle and a can of some sort of foam capable of repairing a punctured lung. How are these fucking clues? They’re just silly items you go around looking for. But the story is the problem. (Spoiler warning) The entire mission involves everyone getting together after an orbital drop thrown off course then going to find a girl who is taking care of a member of the eighth covenant species, Engineers or Huragok. So, the find him, extract him, Jackson (gotta have fan service!) asks him a question and it never gets answered, making the whole game totally pointless since it has no function in the story. Play the story of Halo 3 again and you’ll realize that there is totally no information that can’t just be guessed. Whole story is pointless and totally forgettable. The second story is found through audio logs throughout the city when you play as the rookie and is nothing but audio clips with some really crappy monochrome still frame drawings. But the story is worthless! It isn’t even interesting for one. It involves this girl who’s trying to get out of the city, then is picked up by the corrupt police commissioner who tries to rape her and it’s just the story of her trying to protect herself from being raped. Really. If Bungie was trying to tell a different story they did a really piss poor job of doing it.
Oh, right. I forgot to mention one thing. Firefight. Total waste of time. Why? No matchmaking for this mode. For Altana’s sake, there’s a vidmaster achievement for this mode, but it’s practically impossible to get a group for this. I’ve played this solo. It’s boring as all hell. Come on, at least the mode that every game rips off (hint, it’s originally from Unreal Tournament) has to have something exciting about it, but this mode is laughably stupid. Not worth it’s time. On the subject of multiplayer, the second disk is just a repackage of Halo 3’s multiplayer with three new maps. If you’re really that much of a Halo Multiplayer freak, do yourself a favor, wait for the DLC to come, buy that and feel pleased with the fact that you didn’t spend $60 on this piece of garbage.