Halo 3: ODST - multiplayer hands-on

Longshore is a much larger map and the one Bakken seemed most proud of. He described it as being “along the same lines as High Ground and Last Resort.” Despite encouraging similar play styles as those Halo 3 classics, Longshore looks like nothing we've ever seen in Master Chief's world; it's set on a New Mombasa industrial shipping yard, with docks, seaside views and hints of freshly caught fish that wouldn't be out of place in San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf.

And while you won't find any fried seafood in Longshore, players will discover some dynamic elements that look to shake up their tried-and-true strategies. Most notable is a telescoping bridge, offering an alternative passage to the defender's building; if a single attacker can make his way to the well-guarded activation switch, it'll open a straight shot for his buddies to the defenders' flag. We're betting lots of brave (or stupid) souls will gasp their final breath reaching for that switch. Longshore also features a series of catwalks, a grab lift and a nice contrast of wide open and blind-spot areas.

The highlight of ODST's multiplayer, however, has to be the cooperative Firefight mode, where up to four players defend endless hordes of Covenant scum. This addictive, trigger finger-taxing mode will be instantly familiar to anyone who's played Gears of War 2's Horde or Left 4 Dead's Survival mode. The concept - live as a long as you can - is identical, but the added Halo flavor allows it to feel fresh all over again.

Playing on an urban-themed map called Crater, we waited on the crest of a long concrete stairway as we watched the courtyard below fill with all sorts of Covenant nasties. The anticipation and ensuing battle made for a thrilling experience that, by design, never let up. Toss in game-changing skulls that continuously give enemies an advantage, a garden variety of rampaging Halo baddies to thwart, and the helpful addition of night-vision visors, and Firefight charts the single best reason to jump online with ODST.

Aug 13, 2009