Monday, September 13

Got a Light?

Until as recentlty as Friday night, I hadn't played Halo 3: ODST for more than 10 minutes. Now that the Reach hype-machine is in full swing however, I found myself loading up the glorified expansion on Friday night and resolved to, as Bungie put it, "Finish the Fight." I must admit that after about 5 hours of solid play, I wasn't bored, and I wasn't in pain; I had actually enjoyed myself. It isn't the most innovative game I've ever played, but it's paced exceptionally well, and some of the characters are actually likeable. Further to that, the story (with the exception of the concluding chapter) is intriguing, and provides enough of an incentive to reach (ha! Halo pun) the conclusion. The last level adds further weight to the argument that Bungie cannot close a story well, if at all. An excrutiatingly long vehicle sequence, followed by a disappointing three wave set piece concludes with an underwhelming cutscene that brings little resolution to the events that have transpired. Despite claims to the contrary, ODST plays exactly like any other Halo title except for the lack of the ability to dual-wield weapons. There were however, some aspects of this installment that set it apart from its predecesors.

While the visuals are of an impressive scale and are generally of high quality, the lighting effects employed in Halo 3: ODST served to frustrate and bemuse me. Most of the game is played in low light situations, and while you can change your visor settings to illuminate areas and highlight enemies, the effect rarely assists you and in some cases can lead to discomfort. Indoors, most features are bathed in a warm yellow, but it is still hard to find your way around. In exterior locations, switching on the light visor causes a harsh glare which usually subsides to the point where your eyes won't dry completely. This effect occurs in all but darkest night. Even when the sun has set, and all that can be seen is a lovely, dark pink hue in the heavens above, turning on the light will cause brief agony.

I appreciated the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers and their plight more than Master Chief, Cortana and the principal narrative and character set of the Halo franchise. Save for the awkward romance between Buck and Dare, and the ever-whinging Romeo (I know you've got a punctured lung, just shut up already), I enjoyed viewing and playing the Covenant invasion from each of these soldier's perspectives. The Rookie is also a bit of a missed opportunity, with Bungie opting to not have him/her speak or emote so players can still imagine themselves as being part of the action. Speaking of action, the level design in ODST is a step up from that found in Halo 3. In this case, quality outweighs quantity as the often bite-size levels still manage to condense all of the scale and intensity of the series' greatest firefights into mercifully shorter sequences. The only exception to that statement is the last level, which as previously discussed falls just short of abject failure.

I played through the campaign alone, which is a first for me with the Halo franchise. Even against as much as twenty enemies, I was rarely frustrated and almost always could acknolwedge that my deaths were the result of my own reckless behavior. Halo 3: ODST showcases the best aspects of Microsoft's flagship franchise, and it also manages to avoid most of the pitfalls found in previous installments. I'm glad that I finally invested some time in the game, and it has acted as an effective prelude (gameplay-wise, at the very least) for the incoming chapter of the series, Halo: Reach.

Who else will be buying Reach this week, and anyone attending a midnight launch? Has anyone ever attended a midnight launch for a game previously?  


  1. I have never and will never enjoy a Halo game. They just don't appeal to me. I have never attended midnight launch. There has never been a game which has really hyped me up that much. I dare say Rueben will attend the ME3 midnight launch though!

  2. Nah I still wouldnt Midnight Launch ME3. Although I love the crap out of it, i can handle the wait. THe PS3 launch was my only midnight venture.

    Halo Reach looks rad beans, in single and multi. I watched the 45 minute look on Giant bomb and now have the sweats in antcipation.

    I am eagerly awaiting my Dungeon Crawl Purchase of Reach for 58 and Darkstar for 57, I know $1 Dollar between a sure fire classic and a sure fire flop, but i love space sims - I wish theyd make a freelancer 2 come on microsoft it was a very good selling game for you.

  3. with the use of my 16 dollar gift card got odst for 25 and all the reach preorder cards from EB, location: classified in case eb ever monitors blogs lol.

  4. Stop monitoring my blog retailers.... unless you want to give me free/cheap games. Then you can setup trojans, spyware, whatever the hell you want!

    We went to the Halo 3 midnight launch Rubes. Remember, we sat around with tEh HaRdCoReZ until the Aspley EB opened so I could get my LE control and game. I loved that controller, so very much wish that my 1st 360 didn't red ring.

  5. You see they brought out another LE controller? Also, a guy at work took the day off to play halo reach! LOL I laughed when he told me that! However, I am sorely tempted to take the day off to play Black ops, so I guess I can't really laugh.

  6. I do remember that and it burns me.

    I called EB and my contact wasnt in and the other store manager advised me they wont price match with Target (same price as Kmart) for move because they may not have it in stock on launch, WTF! So today at lunch I'm going to cancel my preorder and just go pick it up from chermside tomorrow night. F*** that crap. I preordered it, its advertised cheaper, they should match it. Now they lose my business of $250, may be small to them but thats massive to me and they dont get it now!

    ODST was fun, Tris I swear we finished 3 on legendary together but I dont have the achievement. Also DL Halo Waypoint it gives you access to Reach DLC and other DLC for previous games and Avatars.

    EB has rage effected me. At lunch I'm getting my funds back.

  7. I don't like the Reach controller, it is too clean and souless. The Halo 3 LE controller was like having a piece of street art on your controller. I loved it!

    Name one good Move launch title? Name one good Kinect launch title? CAN'T DO IT!!!