…a Halo 3 timewarp without Master Chief. Instead of everyone’s favorite lean, mean, and totally green Spartan badass, ODST’s campaign follows a squad of the titular Orbital Drop Shock Troopers as they carry out a secret mission on Earth while MC was off playing with intergalactic hula-hoops. You start off as the squad’s nameless Rookie but as things go haywire straight from the get go you find yourself exploring the city of New Mombasa and playing through the events of the other squad members in a series of flashbacks before everything comes together for the obligatory dramatic conclusion. Also included is a skirmish mode called Firefight, where up to four people can take on endless waves of enemies on a bunch of different battlefields with increasingly difficult conditions, as well as a bonus disc containing all of the Halo 3 multiplayer maps tossed in just for good measure.
What works here is that this is still basically Halo, and the new campaign is as much fun as Halo has ever been. The hub city is a little open worldy and fun to explore while you make your way from mission to mission, and the missions themselves are diverse and entertaining either alone or in co-op. The story is decent, the voice acting and other miscellaneous production values are top notch as always, and everything gels together nicely in shooterific fashion. Sure there are a few new wrinkles in terms of how health works, a couple new weapons, and the removal of dual wielding, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is anything radically different. It’s still Halo, and there still ain’t nothing wrong with that. Firefight mode is an addictively fun toss in to play with your buddies, and if you happen to be a Halo multiplayer fan who hasn’t yet ponied up the cash for the map packs then you get a nice little cookie included there as well.
What Doesn’t Work
There isn’t too much to complain about the campaign here other than its length, which is pretty short even by Halo standards. It also isn’t terribly challenging, less so even in co-op. It’s still a fun romp, but a little brief and fluffy. The only knock on Firefight mode is that there are no settings other than difficulty, so after a while it becomes very predictable. It would be nice to be able to somehow modify how many and what kinds of enemies you face, as well as how the skulls come up to increase or decrease the difficulty, but no such options are available. Also there’s no matchmaking for Firefight, so there’s no way to just get into a quicky pick-up game anytime you want and unless you have a bunch of friends ready to play when you are it can be pretty frustrating.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line here is that this is a nice little piece of Halo, and that anyone who has ever enjoyed Halo will probably enjoy this too. The only question is how much it is worth to you. As a full priced stand-alone game, its value is somewhat dubious. There’s a campaign that you’ll likely polish off in a day or two, tops, and a skirmish mode that is fun but can be difficult to arrange a game of and even then has no customizable options to extend its lifespan. Sure they tossed in the map packs for free, but chances are most people who were at all interested in them already bought them when they first became available. It really boils down to how much of a Halo fan you are whether it’s a good deal or not, but chances are you won’t be disappointed with the quality regardless of if you chose to rent or buy.