By Travis Moses
In my opinion, Halo 3: ODST is the best Halo game yet. The campaign is shorter than in previous games, but the quality makes for a punchier, action-packed thrill ride from start to finish. That’s about six hours on Heroic difficulty if you’re an experienced shooter like myself. Then there’s the new Firefight mode, where four players fight against waves, rounds, and sets of increasingly difficult Halo enemies. Even more fun, addicting, and offering more replayability than the campaign, Firefight is in large part what makes Halo 3: ODST the best Halo yet.
I can’t pass off the shortness of the ODST campaign as worse or on par than Halo 3’s though, because it truly is a more fulfilling experience in every way. The story actually makes sense, and each flashback mission is beautifully crafted to cater towards the elements that make Halo such a great shooter. For example, driving vehicles in Halo is the most responsive and satisfying vehicle experience compared to driving in any other console game, and the Uplift Reserve flashback mission features just that-massive arenas built for epic vehicle combat. Another example is the pure versatility and balance in Halo’s weaponry against the Covenant, where in the Tayari Plaza flashback you’ll be challenged to use every weapon if you’re going to come out alive.
The flashback missions in ODST are Bungie’s best yet; I enjoyed playing them solo and look forward to teaming up cooperatively and playing each level again on the Legendary difficulty.
Now you might be wondering what a flashback mission is. In Halo 3: ODST you play as not one supersoldier, but four unique ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) soldiers that have been split up from each other. The character you primarily play is the Rookie. Your mission is to regroup with your ODST squad after a botched landing in New Mombasa where each ODST gets split up. You’ll search for beacons that lead back to your squad, but each beacon (or item) has a back story that you’ll play through in the form of a flashback mission. These flashbacks are the stories about what happened to the other ODST soldiers. As you discover more beacons and play more flashbacks you will begin to peace together the full story of what happened to each member of your squad.
The flashback missions are an awesome way to tell the story. They keep you guessing about what happens next, and they can be played in any order. However, even though the missions can be played in any order, my first play through felt as though I was being led through which order the stories are supposed to happen in. During my second play through, I switched the missions up and could tell the stories didn’t transition as smoothly and a scripted order became apparent.