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Recently, Microsoft and 343 Industries released Halo 3: ODST for The Master Chief Collection. Going back to this game after years away from it, I was surprised at how different it felt from other Halo titles that Bungie made. At the time I remember loving the game, but firing ODST up in 2015 on an Xbox One, I wasn’t sure if I would love the game still. Were my memories of it wrong? Had it aged poorly?
And then I heard that sweet, sweet saxophone.
Halo 3: ODST is different from the other Halo games for a lot of reasons. It represents the biggest departure Bungie made with the series and even now the game feels fresh and unique.
You play as the Rookie, a non-speaking Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, AKA ODST. You join a crew of other ODSTs as you drop into New Mombasa. The city has been invaded and large portions of it destroyed after the events of the Halo 2 mission “Metropolis”. Quickly your squad is separated and spread across the city. For parts of Halo 3: ODST you play as the Rookie and you explore the nighttime streets of New Mombasa searching for your squadmates and trying to find out what happened to them.
Exploring the nighttime streets of New Mombasa is like nothing in a Halo game before or since. The soothing and jazzy soundtrack, rainy streets and noir-esque color palettes create a unique atmosphere. It also creates a real sense of loneliness. As The Rookie you are alone, lost and outnumbered. You can explore the city at your own pace and engage enemies when you want. Playing it now, I still feel Halo 3: ODST has one of the best campaigns in the entire series.
Between the nighttime open-world sections you also have missions that feel more like classic Halo levels. These missions are flashbacks that show you what your squad was doing after they landed. These missions are more action packed and are more linear, but they also do a great job at changing the pace of the game. Some missions are more vehicle based while others are more infantry focused. Jumping between different squadmates is a fun way to tell the story and to experience something different with each mission.
These more action oriented missions also help make the quieter and open world parts of ODST feel more interesting.
That was the thing that surprised me the most about going back to ODST, how quiet and slower paced it is. Yes, there is a tank mission. Yes, you can get a rocket launcher and blow up stuff. But ODST also lets you just… wander. You can explore as long as you want and if you do, you might find a few secrets and goodies.
The other part of ODST is Firefight. Sadly, The Master Chief Collection port of ODST doesn’t include Firefight, which is a shame.
Firefight is a fantastic wave based horde mode. Which isn’t that exciting now-a-days, every game these days has a horde mode. But few games feel as good as Halo 3 and ODST feels just as good as Halo 3. But the fact that the ODSTs don’t regenerate health means that combat is even more exciting and nerve-wracking. You have to manage health pickups alongside ammo and what weapons to carry.
Each level in Firefight feels handcrafted for this type of game mode and some of them, like the Zoo level, are so much fun that me and my friends would play them for hours. The Master Chief Collection’s ODST not having Firefight is really disappointing.
One last thing I love about ODST is that like the other Halo games, you can play the entire campaign in co-op. Halo has always been a series that was fun by yourself, but even better with some friends. And ODST is no different.
Halo 3 ODST is a fantastic game and it’s one of the best Halo games ever made. The uniqueness of the Campaign, the soundtrack, Firefight and story all combine to make a game that still feels great years later. As it turns out, Bungie is pretty good at making video games.
Even without Firefight, Halo 3 ODST is worth getting if you have The Master Chief Collection. If you played it before this new port looks better and runs great. And if you haven’t played it before, it’s cheap and amazing.
I love Halo 3: ODST. It’s great.
If you liked this, you can read more about other Games We Love… like Halo 3, Resident Evil 4 and Fallout 3. You can also click here to read our review of Halo: The Master Chief Collection.