Halo 3: ODST review

  • Story and characters are a nice break from formula
  • Firefight cooperative mode is very, very addictive
  • Plenty of hardcore Halo fan service here
  • Campaign is surprisingly short
  • Gameplay is overwhelmingly familiar
  • Is this just a placeholder until Halo: Reach?

Hardcore Halo fan? +1
Casual Halo fan? -1

Like we said at the beginning of this review, ODST is all about mindset – not merely your pre-release expectations for the game, but also your pre-release experiences with the franchise as a whole. Just how big of a Halo nerd are you? How deep is your knowledge, and how honed is your skill? Are you a passionate and devoted lover of the series, or a friendly and occasional acquaintance? The answer will affect your enjoyment of ODST to such a meaningful degree that we recommend adding or subtracting a point from our score in response.

Hardcore Halo fans, for example, will geek out when they discover that the new scoped, semi-automatic pistol (M6C) is as powerful as the original handgun wielded by Master Chief in Combat Evolved (M6D). Casual Halo fans, meanwhile, will be disappointed that such a minor distinction passes for “new” at all.

Hardcore fans will cheer when they first spot the blob-like Engineers, knowing that while the creatures have appeared in novels and were supposed to appear in the first game, this is their first digital appearance outside of Halo Wars. Casual fans will simply shake their heads in confusion, wondering why these bizarre, extraterrestrial Koosh balls are being treated with so much reverence by the plot.

The list goes on. Scrawled graffiti references like “Remember Reach” and “Glass this!” An entire level set in and around the ONI Facility. Unlockable side stories depicting New Mombasa before the Covenant attack. A post-credits ending featuring a familiar face. All of these minor things will add major value to the hardcore Halo lover, while simultaneously flying over the heads of casual Halo fans, if not alienating them altogether.

The great equalizer

One element of ODST, however, will bring everyone into agreement, just as one element of Halo has always brought everyone into agreement. Multiplayer.

No matter what type of fan you are, you will find something to love in Halo 3: ODST’s multiplayer. If you’re a nonstop competitive fiend who belongs to a clan and has every map memorized at this point, you’ll get a trio of fresh battlegrounds on which to expand your rampage. Each has been beautifully polished and carefully balanced. Each feels like a completely new experience, while still paying homage to a beloved map in the franchise’s past. Each encourages a different type of play and a different kind of fun. In other words, each has been designed with the usual Bungie flair.

Above: The new multiplayer maps: Longshore, Citadel and Heretic

If you only jump into Halo 3’s multiplayer now and again, ODST is still an attractive package, as you’ve probably neglected – or avoided – the extra downloadable maps sold over Xbox Live. Most of them have been pretty damn good, though, and ODST gives you a chance to get every Halo 3 map – that’s 24 in total – in one place.

But what if you’re tired of the multiplayer? What if you’re sick of being slaughtered and heckled by teenage boys? What if you’re hesitant to dive into those lobbies ever again? For you, there’s Firefight.

ODST’s cooperative survival mode might be the game’s single biggest selling point. In Firefight, you team up with three friends and work together to fight off wave after wave of Covenant enemies. The longer you hold out, the harder they get. Sound familiar? Yeah, in theory, it’s basically the same as Horde in Gears of War 2, Zombies in Call of Duty: World at War or Survival in Left 4 Dead. In practice, however, it’s very different.

In many ways, it’s more fun, too. You’re not holed up in a small house with your allies, or cowering behind sandbags; you’re running and leaping across large, expansive arenas full of multi-level buildings and wide open clearings. You’re grabbing new weapons, and hijacking new vehicles, every chance you get. In one minute of one match, you might be on the roof, sniping Hunters with a Spartan Laser. A minute later, you might be circling the ground below in a Warthog, or running down Brutes with a stolen Ghost. Right after that, you could be holed up inside, searching desperately for health packs and fending off Jackals with a shotgun. The combat is constantly changing.

Above: Firefight in action

And while Firefight is obviously more colorful and chaotic than other co-op survival modes, there’s no tradeoff in intensity. Each time you reach another wave, Halo’s famous skulls are activated and additional rules are put into place. The aliens might drop less ammo, dodge more easily and shoot more accurately. Plus, all players share the aforementioned health packs, of which there are a limited supply. You’ll learn to be more strategic than you’ve ever been in a Halo game before.

More Info

Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Bungie
Franchise: Halo
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Language, Violence
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending


  • Gob - December 30, 2010 11:29 a.m.

    Loved it.
  • jscriber100 - September 18, 2010 3:06 p.m.

    i still need a 360!
  • CMG - December 21, 2009 3:33 p.m.

    Having play both Halo 3 and Halo 3 ODST, I personally think Halo 3 is better because its got more gameplay variety. Halo 3 has the Campaign , but when want to play something different I play online matchmaking which ODST does not have. ODST has a new game play called firefight but its just not as good as matchmaking on Halo 3.
  • cutthroatmike1 - December 15, 2009 11:27 p.m.

    to all the others... stop complaining on price. this game is a great collection to halo projects. better graphics and the works. more advanced and just great. i did like the idea of playin as a team in solo.
  • Kondratiuk1990 - November 8, 2009 7:14 p.m.

    I think ODST is arguably better then the other Halos, I have played all the games excluding Halo Wars. I t offers the most complete online multi-player experience around. Also the length of the campaign mode, I polished it off in about 6 hours, that is the same amount of time it took me to complete the first Gears Of War game.
  • grimreaper777 - November 8, 2009 4:14 a.m.

    this game is amazing i have masterd most of the online stuff im missing a fue skulls thats all
  • Dragonsheilder32 - October 18, 2009 4:49 a.m.

    I love ODST my favorite character is Buck but it lacks the Hours of gameplay the campaign is way to short.
  • OooDuffMan1ooO - October 5, 2009 5:16 a.m.

    I have it and it is awesome. I don't know why they gave it a 7. I'd rather give it a 10. Firefight is very cool, but if your playing it on co-op you share the same lives :( . Campaign is addicting but once you beat it you just play Firefight. It's wierd, but true!
  • BadLadJon - October 4, 2009 8:53 a.m.

    wow there still working on Halo 3 games.... i bet there gonna make more Halo 3 games like this and not make anything new
  • IslanderSwagg - October 4, 2009 3:51 a.m.

    According to the video, UNSC is not American. LOL Oh and the three negatives... I dont think everybody would hate those
  • xSpeedyMonkeyx - September 30, 2009 6:02 p.m.

    Because i'm such a pro. jk I think that this game is well worth 60 dollars. The only reason that you wouldnt want it is that your too big a pansy to take on someone bigger than you. Its not hard. You just need to step it up a little. btw, Hunters are 1 hit KO.
  • chrisjon - September 30, 2009 2:49 a.m.

    i disagree with this review. I made a GR account just to encourage you to still get this game. Campaing is short but there are plenty achievements and firefight is superb. i would give it an 8 its a good game to buy until mwf2 comes out
  • trustme - September 27, 2009 7:04 p.m.

    booo, the only thing this is kind of worth is firefight, rent it, don't buy it. Its like i just bought PAC-man from them, then they turn around and sell me Mrs. PAC-man
  • JakCass47 - September 26, 2009 10:09 p.m.

    I'm not a huge Halo fan but I took the leap and got it, it may be a little short but it IS sweet. The VISR mode makes a super cool addition in the experience and I got it at Toys R Us this week and recieved a $20 gift card which I turned around and got Dirt 2 with, which seems like a pretty fair deal to me !! Just sayn.
  • rivalmarine - September 26, 2009 5:32 p.m.

    halo 3 is one of the best games i've played this year
  • jar-head - September 24, 2009 1:06 p.m.

    (possible Spoilers)just finished odst...and im VERY confused.. Why is the battle Rifle Not in the game? Why can you use an 8ft long gravity hammer, but No support weapons: bubble shield? Why are there No Elites? i found ONE Body in the Entire Game. the prophet jumps, and within 6hours, the covenant pacts is over? not by a Long shot...But Why does it FEEL like an actual Warzone in firefight? a couple Well placed rounds Can take down a horde of grunts and brutes, unlike halo3 it took more rounds than i can rememeber, plus reload time, to kill one or two brutes plus grunts? But the graphics are incredible, if not "upgraded"(must have HDTV for Full compatibility) And, Sadly, not alot of my friends have odst( or they just Suck...) but invite me to Any firefight game, and you Will Not Regret it: Username: ClassicJarHead
  • civver - September 23, 2009 1:39 a.m.

    Hardcore Halo fan? +1 Casual Halo fan? -1 That pretty much summarizes the whole review.
  • DirkSteele1 - September 22, 2009 11:19 p.m.

    I loved all 3 Halo games, playing through each one at least twice (wanted the full set on Legendary difficulty) but I am just not enthusiastic about this game at all.
  • crumbdunky - September 21, 2009 8:07 a.m.

    So, it's just more Halo , we've got nearly half of it already(well most Halo fans will), the best and newest stuff is only used as the hub to explore and find missions and the best reason to buy it is a Gears mode rip off. Great. The reviews for this have been all over the place which does suggest there's something wrong with this being pushed as a full game-some sites accept it just because it's Halo while some just don't see any value-at $40 I would imahine you'd see many more 9/10 scores than we finally will and this will endup the first Halo FPS that isn't a AAA game meta score wise as a result. Thing is I'm a fan of the series, though by no means a massive one, and I've even bought all the H3 maps I could and if you're in the same boat is this really a full price game at retail? I just think it's greedy and for the very first time the voices saying MS are milking Halo and it's fans have some credence, imo, as selling people stuff they already have to justify a price tag is a little below the belt. 7/10? Just about right I would imagine though right now, and for the very first time, IDK if I really want to play it and find out-I despise having to pay more for someting just because they've bulked the pack out with stuff I already have!
  • themooninites - September 21, 2009 4:42 a.m.

    it looks alot like halo 3...whos campain was just terrible, i think i may just rent or barrow from a friend. what happen to when halo's story and gameplay were actually good?

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