E3 2009: The Five: Halo 3: ODST
The 10-Cent Tour: This Halo 3 expansion features a new protagonist, a new urban campaign and a new multiplayer mode.
1. You are not Master Chief. Instead, Halo 3: ODST gives you control over ... an ODST (Orbital Drop Shock Trooper) referred to simply as "The Rookie." Set between Halo 2 and Halo 3, you'll explore bombed-out urban environments looking for clues to the fate of your missing teammates. These clues trigger flashbacks in the form of cut scenes and even gameplay vignettes where you control other ODSTs.
2. The campaign mode is less focused on straightforward point-A-to-point-B action and more on open, multi-path urban environments. Since the Rookie is all alone and less powerful than Master Chief, he has to be slightly stealthier and more careful about picking fights with the enemy. He does have some help, though, in the form of a city-superintendent AI that watches his every move and provides new weapons and guidance.
3. For nighttime levels, a new Visor view mode provides thin neon outlines to help you distinguish enemies and allies from the surrounding darkness, even through walls. The effect is somewhat reminiscent of being a zombie in Left 4 Dead.
4. Besides three new multiplayer maps included on-disc (which will also available as Halo 3 DLC), the big multiplayer addition is a new cooperative mode, Firefight. Here, up to four players work together to hold off wave after wave of randomly assigned enemies. If it sounds a lot like Gears of Wars 2's Horde mode, well, it is, but a common pool of lives and progressively added difficulty modifiers set it apart to an extent. Anyway, who cares -- derivative or not, it's still plenty of fun!
5. Nathan Fillion is awesome, and the perfect casting for squad member Sgt. Buck. His talents were used to great effect in the brief cut scene shown as the intro to our demo. Any game with more Captain Mal earns a thumbs-up in our book.
The Crispy Forecast: I'd like to see more of the campaign before making a final decision, but Firefight is an excellent multiplayer addition sure to please the Halo faithful.
This preview is based on a hands-on demo of the game at E3 2009.
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