Joined: 14 Oct 2002 Posts: 4121 Location: Sheffield, UK
Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:47 am Post subject: Halo ODST
Christmas is time for games catch up and bargain bin mining, so what's with ODST? It seemed to come out with little fan fair and passed me by, it looks a bit like an expansion for Halo3 yet it was a pretty expensive stand alone game. They had some really over the top film-style tv ads that annoyed me, I want to see what the game is like! If you want to make a movie, go make a movie!
What I like about Halo is the way they cut up their games into chunks of FPS puzzles. By that I mean, each section of Halo is a relatively small contained challenge. You die a lot, you cannot just rely on one weapon, you cannot rely on previous tactics. There is limited ammo, work has been done to make enemies require different weapons/tactics, puzzles in the form of switches / keys / team mates / vehicles are designed to force you off common paths or behaviours. You have to think - a little bit.
Compare this to my experience of CallOfDuty - a linear conveyor duck shoot, pick your favourite weapon, they pop up, you put them down, you go glassy eyed at the lovely cinematics. I make this comparison because ODST feels similar, you are a grunt (not a super hero chief) and its all about urban warfare. Like COD I didn't really identify with what was going on, it's explained that you trying to extract an AI from enemy territory, but it was a little too mundane, it didn't draw me in or make me care enough about what was happening. There's a lot of shouting.
One thing I don't like is when a game pushes you from one character to another. I think it's something people see done very well in every novel ever written and think it will make a deeper game. The problem is I like to get to know my character, I like to identify with him, I like to become him. Playing multiple characters can work if its just a few (the 3 factions of Starcraft), or you spend a lot of time with each character (Starcraft again) or it's your choice of when to split. In ODST you jump between about 6 different characters (maybe) with a switch forced on you every ~10 mins. Not good.
Does Halo get the award for the only FPS to implement vehicles and actually get away with it? That jeep is pretty fun and its only mildy annoying when you are forced into it and you don't fumble its controls that often? How maybe games about being a cool commando periodically dump you behind a fixed machine gun turret? It seems like every singe one, COD does it, as does GearsOfWar. It always feels a little forced and a little out of character, well it does if you spend your time in the shadows iwth a sniper rifle anyway. Every game that does it (all of them?) always do it a little too much too, have you noticed? It can be fun to mow down a tough enemy once in a while, just as a little break from a challenging foe. At least in Halo you can sometimes choose to be the tank driver or the turret gunner. I think I spent about 70% of my vehicle time just driving and I think Bungie need a big round of applause for allowing me that choice.
The obvious difference in ODST is the new night vision enhancement system that picks out the edges of the world and highlights friends and enemies. It works very well, but I think it was the excuse they needed to set most of the game in the dark, which was kind of a shame because the defining characteristic of the dark is you don't really get to see very much and what you can see lacks colour and depth.
It felt like they'd tried to add more non-linearity between each fire fight too. I don't think this really worked though, after completing one objective you'd be given a compass heading to the next and have to find your own way there. In truth though, each section is separated by walls and sealed doors, so there really was only one way to get where you needed to go. Line of sight compass headings have the usual failing of leading you down dead ends and the neon abstract map could be a bit hard to read and had a fog-of-war so wouldn't always help you avoid a little aimless traipsing around.
It was great fun listening to Nathan Fillion (Captain Mal from Firefly) and Adam Baldwin (Jayne Cobb from Firefly), but I wish they'd had a more interesting story to tell.
In the end it was fun to get back to those fiendish puzzling fire fights, do I jump into the middle with a giant hammer, stick grenades to their asses or snipe them from cover. How do I take out that enemy tank when all I have is a sniper rifle and some grenades?
A big shock for me is the game length, I completed the whole thing in about 4 hours. I don't mind because I got the game at bargain bin prices, but wasn't this a full price release back in the day? Maybe not, it certainly fits the bill as a Halo3 add on rather than full game. I know people applaud it for the online gaming, so maybe I'm not doing it justice, I never had much success in online matches (*** handed to me one too many times) so I really go for the single player content.
So for $10 its great, can't complain. Oh OK, it's a little too dark and a little too short.
Reach is sat in my game queue so it'll be interesting to see where they take it in the final instalment.
Joined: 25 Oct 2003 Posts: 1068 Location: Sydney, Land of Censorship
Posted: Tue Jan 04, 2011 1:26 pm Post subject:
One of the (seemingly few) games I have completed - probably because it's so short, and a friend bought a cheap copy for me so we could play co-op through the campaign (which we did in one sitting). The story would probably mean more if I'd played a substantial amount of other Halo games. Always nice to see the crew of the Serenity get back together, though.
As for MP other than campaign co-op... a knockoff of horde from Gears of War (which is more fun IMO) and the competitive MP from Halo 3 (with all the map packs, just to ****** off anyone who paid good money for them). I'll stick to... anything made by Valve. On PC, of course. Also, don't mind a bit of Battlefield now and then (also on PC, naturally).
So, conclusion: It's good. As long as you don't pay too much for it. Or you REALLY love the MP (which would probably have more people playing Reach now, don't know).
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