There’s Always Room for Halo
January 23, 2009 – Now that most gamers have finished the fight, it has become popular to speculate about the future of the Halo franchise. With Bungie no longer being owned by Microsoft and (spoiler alert) Master Chief possibly not being around anymore (alert over), the future direction of the series is literally anyone’s guess. What we do know is that the Halo universe won’t be getting any time to rest, as Halo Wars and Halo 3: ODST have already been announced to keep fans’ attentions fixated on the world that Master Chief built. While a strategy game based on Halo does sound interesting, most Halo fans will likely find ODST to be easier to relate to.
The events of Halo 3: ODST take place towards the end of Halo 2. A group of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs) are midflight en route to the Covenant ship carrying the Prophet of Regret. Before they can fully reach their intended destination, the ship jumps, creating a slipspace rupture. As one would expect, objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and ODST pods are no different. The only option left for the ODSTs is to crash-land all over New Mombasa. Due to this less than gentle landing, players will not begin their experience until six hours after the crash.
As the game’s main character, known simply as “the rookie,”, players will regain consciousness after night has already fallen over the city. The Covenant now occupy the streets and it’s up to you to find out the fates of your squad mates after the crash landing. Utilizing the ODST’s visual mode, which visibly highlights living creatures as well as important clues and objects in the world, players will need to track down several beacons scattered all over the city. These beacons should not only provide players with some useful information as to their fellow soldiers’ whereabouts but will also change up the gameplay.
Navigating around New Mombasa as the rookie is a fairly wide-open experience, allowing players to seek out beacons in whichever order they wish. After finding a beacon a flashback of sorts will trigger. Flashbacks will switch you from controlling the rookie to manipulating whichever teammate the discovered beacon concerns. While the rookie is a faceless and virtually voiceless character, not unlike Master Chief, the squad mates you will be controlling are anything but, with a wide array of unique personalities and egos. These flashback portions will play more similarly to the typical, fairly linear and trigger happy Halo gameplay that fans have come to expect from the series. The contrast between these two gameplay types should create a varied experience as well as shed some light on what happened to all of these characters and New Mombasa while the rookie was still unconscious in his ODST pod.
One thing that may be difficult for Halo fans to adjust to is that they will no longer be controlling a Spartan. While Master Chief may have had shields and been able to jump over tall buildings in a single bound, ODSTs are a little less superhuman. Playing as an ODST will require more thought, stealth, and probably skill, since you’ll inherently be a worse jumper, smaller, slower, and more vulnerable than you’ve ever been before. It will be interesting to see just how different controlling an ODST can be, as opposed to controlling Master Chief but at least it will still make use of a first-person view, contrary to the multitude of rumors that claimed the game would instead utilize a third-person perspective.
While Halo 3: ODST is technically considered an expansion pack for Halo 3, it will still be an entirely self-contained experience. This means that anyone interested in playing as an ODST won’t need a copy of Halo 3, just a copy of the expansion pack. No official release date or price has yet been given for the title, but there have been significant rumblings that seem to insist it will probably not be a fully priced, sixty dollar release. Whether these claims ultimately turn out to be true or not, the overall package already seems to be fairly complete.
Aside from the new ODST campaign that can be played cooperatively with up to three friends, players will also get the entire Halo 3 multiplayer experience plus some additional bonuses on the disc. This means that you will be able to play online as either Spartans or Elites, still no ODSTs, using all of the maps and weapons from Halo 3. The Forge will also be included, allowing for the same customization options found in the original title. In addition, Halo 3: ODST will come with a host of extra maps that will also be made available separately throughout the year as parts of two different downloadable map packs, the first of which being the soon to be released Mythic Map Pack.
While this experience is sure to differ from what fans have come to expect from a Halo title, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Despite giving players a better sense of just how extraordinary Master Chief truly was, Halo 3: ODST will also deliver a fresh perspective on the Halo universe that should help provide resolution to some of the unanswered questions in the series. Add to this the complete Halo 3 multiplayer experience, bonus maps, and the fact that, upon its release, players will finally have the means to complete the “Vidmaster” achievements, thereby unlocking the heavily sought after Recon armor. ODST certainly looks like a pretty compelling package even if released at full price. Unfortunately, we’ll all have to wait until fall to finally get our hands on a finished copy of this highly anticipated expansion pack.