Release Date: 9/22/2009 (X360), 5/30/2015 (XONE)
MSRP: $59.99 (X360), $4.99 (XONE)
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Well, I finally did it, I actually beat ODST. I rented the game when it first released and it was so boring I nearly fell asleep. I turned it back in after the first mission. In retrospect, I realized I just didn’t know enough of the Halo universe to understand the story of ODST as non-fans won’t quite understand this little slice of the story, and that’s exactly what ODST is, a slice of Halo.
You play as an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) who are the grunts in the war fighting most of the fights while the series mainly focused on Master Chief. In ODST you are dropped into New Mombasa that is now completely overrun by Covenant and devoid of life. You were supposed to meet your fellow teammates for a mission, but everything went to crap, as usual, and now you have to figure out what happened to them. You are supposed to find clues as to what happened to each member and these result in flashback missions. After completing the game I realized how short it actually was with only about 8 missions or so. Outside of these missions finding 30 audio logs ends up being filler content as I spent most of my time with the game hunting these down for achievements.
If you don’t bother hunting these down you’re in for one short game, but this was just to help tide people over before Reach was released and for the inevitable release of Halo 4 that everyone wanted. Wandering around this hub is actually quite boring with the occasional Covenant firefight breaking out. The city is devoid of everything and felt like unnecessary filler to add a couple extra hours of aimless wandering. There are objective markers for each clue, but getting to each one is tedious and has no point. The audio logs serve as a side story of what happened to the city and a particular inhabitant, but the actual story outside of this doesn’t pick up until the end of the game which is really weird.
The mission is to retrieve the data of the Superintendent which is a huge data hive that is underneath New Mombasa. It turns out this was extracted by an alien species that becomes an ally and you must bring it back to Earth. I will actually praise ODST’s missions for being a decent length and mixing up the gameplay a little bit. While it’s the same Halo stuff we are used, it’s in shorter bursts. Vehicle sections mixed with highway sections mixed with on foot stuff works well here just like any other Halo game. There is some better balancing over Halo 3 (it uses the same engine) with better weapon handling and tighter mechanics. It still feels like Halo which is what counts, but this is obviously a diversion. I honestly asked myself in the end that if this game was never released would it have mattered? No, it wouldn’t have, as it’s not a main Halo game and most people actually never played it.
In the end, we get a mediocre Halo game with characters we really don’t care about due to lack of character development. The graphics are decent and look even better on Xbox One, but what does it all mean in the end? Nothing we couldn’t have gotten out of a novel or comic series and proves that ODST is just a diversion to stem the tide of anticipation for Halo 4. With a boring hub world and a broken story, ODST isn’t a necessity for anyone, fans or non-fans alike. Play this if you just want to finish the whole series or feel like you need a break from the main road.