Halo 3: ODST
And so, we come to the game I've enjoyed the most during my time so far with the blog. And to the possible disappointment of some, it's not some obscure little undiscovered gem, but a massive gaming juggernaut. For shame.
But while it might have been nice to have unearthed an unknown classic for the top spot, it wasn't to be. There have been plenty of those scattered throughout the blog, and there will undoubtedly be more to come.
Halo 3: ODST, for me, though, is something of an undiscovered gem. I say that because I've never really been into the Halo franchise. I played the first one for the first time in March 2009, and enjoyed it quite a bit. But then I left it alone, and I haven't played Halo 2 or Halo 3 yet, at all. A mate at work lent me ODST in exchange for one of my games... I can't say I was particularly bothered in having it, and actually didn't think I'd even get around to playing it.
Still, one night I found myself at a bit of a loose end, and wasn't in the mood for any of my games. And so, I found myself turning to ODST.
I hate those little buggers with the shields. And they hate my big gun.
I'd barely even looked at the box before that point, so it was a very pleasant surprise to find that the three main characters were voiced by actors from the Firefly TV series. I absolutely love that show, and so I was instantly provided with an "in" to the game. And yes, their "acting" and the characters' interaction was a definite highlight for me.
That wouldn't have counted for much, though, if I didn't enjoy the game. Thankfully, it lived up to the promise that the voice cast provided, and then some. It wasn't just the shooting action - although that was satisfying, with some very intense moments - and it wasn't just the story. For me, it was the way the story was told that did it.
Halo 3:ODST puts you in the suit of a rookie trooper investigating the disappearance of the main ODST team. It sees you playing a level as the rookie, and at the end of the level you'll find a clue as to what exactly happened in that area. Taking the clue, you'll then play a flashback as the character involved in that particular plot strand.
That hardly seems fair, a little jeep against an armoured space craft. Let's even it up with some well-placed firepower.
I don't recall ever playing a game with this approach (although I'm sure there probably are some), and it was highly refreshing and really intriguing, and I was genuinely pushed on through the game because of this, wanting to find out what had happened. And because of the atmosphere in the levels where you play the rookie, there's a definite feeling of "what the hell happened here?".
The gameplay is really quite varied for a first person shooter, with vehicle levels, massive battles across large areas, or tight, constricted corridor sections. There's a lot of humour, both from enemies and the main characters. And of course, there's a good story which is told really well. I was thoroughly gripped from beginning to end... which is saying something, because I've hardly completed any XBox 360 games at this time.
For all these reasons, for all the hours I put into it without a single moment of boredom, frustration, anger or apathy, for its constant entertainment across the entire game and for actually making me want to play a FPS from beginning to end because I cared what happened, Halo 3:ODST is the game I've most enjoyed playing for my blog to date.