I recently bought Halo 3: ODST. Now, for those who don't know, Halo 3: ODST is a first-person shooter, set between the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3 and set in the African city of New Mombasa. In it, the main protagonist is The Rookie, a member of an elite ODST Squad. The game focuses on the Rookie finding the rest of his squad, after they are separated during the drop. Once the Rookie finds a clue to his squadmate's locations, the player assumes the role of them after the drop. It begins like this.

I want to give a review of my opinion on this fantastic, but too-often overlooked game.

The Good

  • The new HUD gives a different feel to it, mainly due to the removal of the motion tracker and the introduction of a new element: the Visual Intelligence System, Reconnaissance, or VISR. The VISR, activated by default by the X button, allows you to see more clearly in the dark, and highlights enemies in red, weapons and vehicles in blue and points of interest in thick yellow.
    H3ODST Campaign 1stPersonVISR02

    The VISR in action, showing two allies engaging a Brute.

    • As well as the VISR highlighting enemies, it has three more systems: DATABASE, a map system giving a detailed layout of the city; COMM, allowing you to access Audio Log transcripts; and INTEL, showing your objectives.
      • DATABASE is extremely useful for finding Jackal snipers and Brutes both in cover and on the move.
  • The time you spend as the Rookie, on the between-levels level Mombasa Streets, is unlike any Halo game before it: it is open-world, meaning there is more than one route to the objective and you can just decide to explore Mombasa. In my opinion, this gives greater depth and feeling to the game.
    • In this exploration, you can stumble across Audio Logs: like Terminals, these are 30 stations you can discover, which tell the story of Sadie Endesha, the daughter of a Mombasan scientist, in a series of images accompanied by sound files. These give deeper explanation of the city's AI, the Superintendent, and its roles.
  • The introduction of Firefight means that, in the event that you get bored by the campaign, you can try to survive against waves of Covenant on eight different maps, and two nighttime variants of them: Crater and Rally Point. A good place to hone your skills for Legendary; if you can survive.
  • Once the Rookie discovers a clue, such as Romeo's Sniper Rifle, the player then takes the role of that character. This gives the player the ability to play from multiple perspectives, seeing how the events can link together.

The Bad

  • Even no higher difficulties, the character can take a lot more damage than other games. For comparison, in Halo: Reach on no difficulty can one survive a Hunter swing, or Plasma grenade stick. Yet on Heroic I I was able to survive two Hunter swings, and on another occasion a Plasma grenade stick. This does surprise me greatly, and it annoys me: if the game is from the view of a regular (albeit elite, highly-trained) soldier, why can one take more damage than an augmented super soldier?
  • The Health system: as there are no shields, the health system is divided into Stamina and Health, Stamina being damage you're currently taking and Health being reserve. Once the Stamina is down, and you're still taking damage, the Health will go down. However, it does strike me as being similar to Shield/Health system in other games: in fact, the Stamina will be removed by an overcharged Plasma pistol shot, exactly like Energy shielding. Although it feels like something new, I just felt like Bungie had tried to trick me.
  • There is a primal part of everyone, deep down, which makes one want to sit back and cause havoc against their fellow man and mock them as they are defeated again and again. Because of ODST's lack of Matchmaking, this part is suppressed (maybe because Bungie thought it would be too CoDish). Yeah, the Firefight trains you to overcome incredible odds and hoardes of Covenant, but what's better than seeing a player in your sight and squeezing the trigger?
  • The lack of Battle Rifles saddens me greatly, as the '55 is a personal favourite.

The Verdict

I've shown the good and the bad. But the question is, do I think the game was worth it? Every. Credit.

The VISR mode will amaze you, as will how your M6C/SOCOM turns the head of every Grunt, Jackal, Drone and Brute you come across into pulp. The M7S in my account has ripped through the back plating of a Hunter in a few magazines. I was captivated by the game during the opening cinematic: the awe-inspiring drop and even the release mechanism for the SOEIV.


  • The M7S and M6C do not make a good pair against Brutes. They're the best thing for Grunts and Drones, but you'll empty your Magnum before you drop the shields of a Brute. Combine a Brute Plasma Rifle or a Plasma Pistol with an M6C/SOCOM: Brute and Jackal shields go down from Plasma rifle, and a silenced headshot to finish them.
  • Don't let yourself get surrounded by Drones, as they will simply overwhelm you: a headshot from the '6C or a burst from the M7S will make them drop like, well, flies.
  • The sight on the M7S is useful against medium-distance Jackal Snipers and Carbine-ers, but fire in short bursts to control the recoil.
  • Your melee isn't the strongest it's ever been, so jump around a Brute to punch it in the back for an instant kill.
  • Jackals with point-defence gauntlets are at their most annoying: the usual (to me) tactic of punching them is less effective, so instead melee them for the flinch, then aim for the head to finish them. At longer ranges, the gap in their shields is still there, so sniper rifle, particle beam rifle, carbine and M6C rounds are still effective there.
  • Take them out quietly: if you can go for stealth, go for stealth.
  • Make use of the superintendent: the supply caches can prove extremely helpful, some with Rocket Launchers, Sniper Rifles and Mongooses.

What is your opinion on Halo 3: ODST, and what do you find useful? Leave a comment in the section below!