E3 09: Modern Warfare 2 vs Left 4 Dead 2 vs Halo 3: ODST

Halo 3: ODST

Halo 3: ODST is shaping up to be a proficient shooter that will appeal to hardcore Halophiles but will face stiff competition from all quarters. One gets the feeling they’re saving all the really dope stuff for Halo 4. Or Reach?

Above: The Covenant can use equipment, but you can’t 

The campaign was not available to play, but we did get a half-hour private demo from Bungie and the multiplayer Firefight was available to play on the show floor. ODST’s campaign (playable by up to 4 players in co-op) takes place in the city of New Mumbasa, on Earth, just after Master Chief takes off after the Covenant. The city is a shambles after the Covenant’s slip space rupture, and the player must piece together the mystery of what happened to his squadmates. As clues are uncovered, flashback scenes (in which you play as a squadmate) fill in the backstory. Unlike previous Halo games, the map is wide open for the player to explore, though an AI pal, “The Superintendent,” will point out suggested hotspots.

Since the player is not a Spartan, he won’t have the benefit of recharging shields. Instead, he’ll have to find health stations around the city to fill up his life meter. Players will also not be able to dual-wield weapons or use the equipment introduced in Halo 3 (though some Covenant baddies still will.) The tradeoff is that the ODST has a special night-vision visor that highlights enemies in red and interactive objects in yellow. While the visor is kinda cool in a Metroidy way, it’s a mediocre substitute for the diversity of equipment offered in Halo 3. We know, you’re not a Spartan. But does that mean they should take away all the toys? Perhaps more will be revealed closer to launch.

Two new weapons were revealed in the demo, a silenced pistol and a silenced SMG. The silenced aspect of the weapons didn’t seem to affect gameplay, as enemies came charging as soon as you opened fire. But it did make a cool muffled thwipping sound, so there’s that. 

Above: Night vision! 

It wouldn’t be Halo without multiplayer, and thus far that appears to be ODST’s strongest selling point. ODST introduces a new Firefight mode which is 4 player co-op survival a la Horde in Gears of War, with wave after wave of Covenant crashing over you til your lives are utterly spent. Your team has one pool of lives that everyone draws from, so no one will ever have to sit out of the action for long. While there is a difficulty ramp, the Covenant in each wave are randomized to keep you on your toes. But our favorite Firefight feature was Skulls – remember those cranial collectibles from Halo 2 and 3? Skulls modify the way the game plays with changes to enemy AI, weapon damage, etc. So in each wave of Firefight, a different Skull is activated. Survive long enough, and different combinations of skulls switch on until finally all the Skulls are activated, and stay in effect tll you’re dead meat.  

ODST will also ship with a second disc containing Halo 3’s competitive multiplayer. The second disc holds all 21 existing maps, along with three new ones, so if you don’t own Halo 3 (gasp!) or haven’t kept up with all the DLC (more likely) there’s some added value for you. The last bit of extra motivation to buy ODST is access to the Halo Reach beta, which is a still a giant question mark.

Above: Teamwork on display in Firefight mode 

To summarize, the campaign looks decent and the new multiplayer survival mode is a blast. But it may end up being too little too late. With heavy competition from hard-hitting rivals, ODST is on our must-play list but not in the top spot.

Post-show buzz: Looks Heroic but probably not Legendary.


Of course we saw much more than Modern Warfare 2, Left 4 Dead 2 and Halo 3: ODST. Here are a few shooters that will tempt you with their reticular goodness.

BioShock 2


The watery Libertarian scare-fest is back with more creepy little girls and grotesque gene junkies. At E3, 2K showed off BioShock 2’s impressive multiplayer for the first time. The character progression and customization system has a surprising amount of context around it. The player has a little apartment s/he uses as a hub and has a job field-testing new weapons and plasmids during the civil war that destroys Rapture prior to the first game. During combat, plasmids are automatically equipped in the off-hand so there’s no switch-out time. This keeps the action fast and frantic with bullets and plasmid effects flying everywhere. In one game type a Big Daddy suit randomly spawns, turning one player at a time into a brutal, nigh-unstoppable killing force. Add that to what will undoubtedly be a cerebrally terrifying single player experience, and BioShock 2 looks to be made of win.



Sony’s massively multiplayer online shooter sets 256 players loose on a huge objective-filled map to kill or be killed. The two warring factions are broken up into 8 man squads, and bonuses like air strikes can be earned when your squad completes battlefield objectives. Though the map crawled with players like ants on a carcass, the dense action played smoothly without any apparent technical or graphical hiccups. Fans of large-scale PC shooters like Battlefield or Planetside will want to have a go at MAG this fall.


With so many high profile sequels this year, it can be tough for a brand new title to win mindshare. But to overlook Singularity would be a mistake. Taking a page straight out of Lost, Singularity is the story of a pilot who crash lands on a secret island that’s coming unstuck in time due to Cold War experiments carried out there in the 1950s. Pockets of time anomalies exist all over the island, so time manipulation is critical to combat and puzzle solving. In the E3 demo, the effects were mostly pretty cool. At one point the player reconstructed a collapsed building, and as he fought his way through it the walls slowly started crumbling back in around him. Though we’ve seen other titles try and fail with time control as a gameplay device (we’re looking at you, TimeShift,) we maintain high hopes for Singularity.

Jun 9, 2009

E3 09: Hub
All the stories from this year's show


E3 09: Trailers - The best, the worst and the bizarre
New game movies that made us happy, made us sad or just made us confused

GamesRadar's E3 2009 awards
The best, worst, and weirdest from the only game convention that matters

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  • chooby - June 22, 2009 12:32 p.m.

    im gunna follow the crowds here and go for ODST and MW2. although i agree, i hope MW2 will bw less james bond more gritty hardcore shooter.
  • deora2dude - June 16, 2009 4:42 p.m.

    NOOOO YOU BE SAYIN BAD THINGS ABOUT ODST! personally i cant wait.... please dont insult bungie :(
  • Skykid - June 15, 2009 8:49 p.m.

    Games I really really want: ODST MW2 Singularity. Those games are going to be so sweeeet.
  • ASSASINATION323 - June 14, 2009 7:22 a.m.

    I would say halo reach FTW....if it wasn't a no-show. I'll go with modern warfare 2.
  • throughironsights - June 12, 2009 7:26 p.m.

    when are these cod fanboys going to stop bashing other games and sucking up to one of the most generic game franchises? Specially you caboose4400 Saying f**k you to someone because you dont like their opinion? thats just plain ignorant
  • sinkingfeeling - June 11, 2009 11:57 p.m.

    Halo FTW!!!!!! Just better gameplay, esp multiplayer. Pity about the crap story!
  • DeadGirls - June 11, 2009 9:27 p.m.

    "Fans of large-scale PC shooters like Battlefield or Planetside will want to have a go at MAG this fall." GTFO. I want to play a large-scale PC shooter on the PS3 as much as I want to play it on the DS.
  • withnightvisionon - June 11, 2009 6:50 p.m.

    SWEAT, another game with night vision
  • caboose4400 - June 11, 2009 6:01 a.m.

    all these games look awsome but i cant wait for MW2, ODST, MAG and bioshock 2 oh and woot117 F*** you COD 4 is an awsome game and COD 6 is probably gonna be just as good. oh and nice HOT FUZZ reference GR
  • GamesRadarJoeMcNeilly - June 10, 2009 10:52 p.m.

    Re: lawnmower clip: a funny side story, I saw Brain Dead in a museum in New Zealand. Best. Museum. Ever.
  • Hobojedi - June 10, 2009 10:29 p.m.

    Wow.. the lawnmower vid was really weird.
  • SumthingStupid - June 10, 2009 6:37 p.m.

    People are getting upset over L4D2, but don't you people notice that their is a new CoD game every year.
  • oryandymackie - June 10, 2009 6:21 p.m.

    BioShock 2 looks amazing! Shame you don't get the apartment in single-player. Always wanted a place where I can sit down and read a fifty year old Rapture newspaper by a roaring fire with the head of Andrew Ryan on my mantelpiece while a Big Daddy knocks on the door frantically outside
  • oryandymackie - June 10, 2009 6:18 p.m.

    ODST.....erm, yay? Mod War 2 and LFD2!!!! Bring it on.
  • suicidalstickman - June 10, 2009 5:47 p.m.

    It's new mombosa not new mumbosa
  • quicksilver_502 - June 10, 2009 3:30 p.m.

    on the one hand, i get the point about the snowmobile chase being a bit unrealisticcompared with the tone of the first game but on the other hand, it was freaking awesome!
  • MoonPig - June 10, 2009 3:25 p.m.

    @vitoruss how is singularity generic? it has a fricking age gun for f***s sake!
  • StonedMagician99 - June 10, 2009 11:54 a.m.

    Ever fired your gun in the air and yelled, 'Aaaaaaah?' Hot Fuzz reference FTW! Awesome feature, and I'm probably going to get all three of these games.
  • crumbdunky - June 10, 2009 11:15 a.m.

    I thought L4D1 was light on content(even if they finally deliver all the promised DLC it will be)for a full price retail release and L4D2 seems the same. Thet're using the same(old) engine with minor upgrades and making us pay full price again for a basically online only game. So this time we're paying for a couple of "new" modes(which will be tweaks) a couple (well four)of new characters and backgrounds/guns-in other words skins and little else that's really new. And still no SP beyond a very basic training for the mp. All cheap and easy to make too. I like Valve and their games. I even have fun with L4D(I actually bought it three times-twice for 360 as my dog skated on one copy and once for PC-big diffeence from the 360 version)though, in truth, only in short bursts. It is very bad value though when you consider other games like Socom and Warhawk are simlilarly online only and aren't full retail-and what have they had time to make that much better without a SP or new engine this time round? I know lots of people love L4D-so do I, it's great fun with your mates-but to pretend that the first game had any value content wise is wrong and for the sequel the problem is worse. I'll be waiting for it to go down in price myself. I'd love a good SP though to give you some frights and a frame of ref for the MP. And where IS Ep3? MW2 and ODST look like expansions more than anything to me as well as the L4D sequel. MW2 def looks like more of the same(I bet the campaign short again as well) and ODST was the chance for Bungie to really push forward without the usual restraint of being the same guy for a fourth game but apart from night vision and a less linear approach it hasn't been a chance they've taken. Both games are playing it safe in the knowledge that they have big, loyal fanbases and don't want to rock the boat-for me that isn't enough for devs of this calibre . IW and Bungie should really be pushing the FPS genre but don't look to even try this time out-something that KZ2 and GG got hammered for. In fact all the shooters mentioned have question marks over them for me. Bioshock2 could be a grave mistake(esp the mp) after such a unique first experience too. Singularity looks okay with the monster/mutant/time stuff but the gunplay looks weak compared to many modern sjooters. finally, while I'd love to see MAG succeed as a brave attempt by great devs(Zipper who made the original Socoms so brilliant)to do something new on consoles. However, people raised on the easy gameplay and lone nature of COD4 or Halo will find it very odd being forced to play as a team and we all know how hard it is to get THAT game of TF2 and that's nowhere near the scale of MAG. Hope I'm wrong about all of it but I really have my worries with all the games and issues with Valve over L4D2-they should also make the 360 version much nearer to what the PC game is(and looks like) this time round. And fully enable mods on 360.
  • vitoruss - June 10, 2009 8:17 a.m.

    How do you spell "singularity"? G-E-N-E-R-I-C Now they just need the protagonist to be a shaved-headed space marine