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Saturday, 2 January 2010

Halo 3: ODST (XBox 360)

Another day, another gaming juggernaut. But where Gears of War was just the start of a franchise that will run and run, Halo 3: ODST found itself in something of an odd position right from the get-go. It's been seen as more of an expansion pack for Halo 3, rather than a fully-fledged game. And from what I've been reading, although it was well reviewed, it seems to have been greeted with some disappointment by many Halo fans.

I'm not a long-serving Halo fan, having only briefly played the first one so far. As a result, I went into this game with no expectations. And do you know what? I'm absolutely loving it.

I'm not sure why this game appeals to me where Gears of War didn't. They both involve futuristic wars against alien horrors. And although this is a FPS, which I'm becoming accustomed to, and Gears is third person, I don't think that has much to do with it.


Even aliens love Ready Brek.

No, I think a lot of it is to do with the atmosphere. ODST feels very oppressive. It's not so much that the numbers against you are overwhelming... it's more a feeling that your home is no longer your own. These are your cities you're running around, but they've been overrun, and you're never comfortable, even when the streets are empty. It's quite unsettling, and I've had moments where I've been content to just keep to the shadows and not fire my weapon to ensure I got where I was going, rather than take on the enemy, even though I was confident I could win.

I really like the way the story is told, too. Rather than just plough through from start to finish, the story is told through three main characters, and as you jump from one to another and back, everything links together and makes sense. It helps a lot (for me at least) that these three main characters are all voiced by actors from Firefly, which is possibly my favourite TV show of all time. Regardless of that though, it's a beautifully told story, so far.

Halo 3: ODST is a game I'm only playing because I borrowed it, but I'm really enjoying it. I have no idea how it fits into the Halo canon or how it compares to previous games in the series, but it's ticking all my boxes, and I can't wait to get back to it and complete it.

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