Halo 3: ODST (Windows Store, 10 hours)

Halo 3: ODST, at the time of its release, was a game about looking cool more than anything else. The game takes place mostly at night, and you have a special visor (spelled VISR in-game) that lights up important parts of the world map. Yes, the game features a world map, and you traverse the large area to uncover little hints of where the other “troopers” have been, which triggers a story sequence that lets you play as that trooper in a little vignette gameplay segment. For example, the main character (the “rookie”) might uncover a remote detonator, only to then play a segment where a different trooper, at the end of the segment, remotely detonates a bridge. There are six main segments, and five DLC segments, all of which come included in the Master Chief Collection. Unfortunately though, there’s a bug in MCC that locks you out of the DLC unless you plow through after mission six without any breaks. So this will be a review of the main game. 

Again, this game was designed to look cool. I remember being absolutely blown away by the graphics when the game was new, but a lot of time has passed, and it’s getting hard to go back to the early HD 360 era. You play as the rookie on a team of Orbital Drop Ship Troopers, and embark on a mission that’s expected to go poorly. The game opens with a Star Wars-like text explanation of the story so far, and says your losing the war against the aliens. You get into these little skirmishes in the overworld but, they are hardly the highlight of the game. The highlight is uncovering artifacts and playing as other troopers after that.

The game can be … hard. I played on the normal difficulty, but even that got tough in places. It really just depends where you are in the missions. In comparison, I remember the original Halo 3 being a lot easier, but I played co-op with someone who was better than I am at Halo, so that could have been a factor. The main story has you playing as six troopers on various missions, as well as playing as the rookie in the overworld, but all the characters control exactly the same. I think it would have been cool if the characters controlled differently, maybe akin to Team Fortress 2, but this is a Halo game. Basically every game in the series controls exactly the same.

I think this game’s biggest failing is that, quite simply, it shipped broken. I got to play the main game (the first six missions) before it asked me to “buy” the DLC, even though I technically own it as part of the Master Chief Collection. There is absolutely no ability to buy the DLC in the Windows Store, and everyone knows the Master Chief Collection is supposed to ship with all the DLC anyway. Of course, if I were playing when ODST was a new game, this wouldn’t be an issue, but I have to rate the game based off how it was sold to me on the Windows Store, which is broken. I guess another major criticism is that the game is trying too hard to look cool and not trying hard enough to be a good Halo game.

Some people say my problem can be fixed by upgrading to Windows 11, which I can’t do because my computer lacks some tiny $110 DRM module. Also, I don’t know if people playing MCC on Xbox are having the same problem. But the fact remains, the game shouldn’t be broken, especially this long after it’s been released. The actual game, well, it’s pretty good, but it’s not as good as the original Halo: Combat Evolved or even Halo 3. It’s probably a better value proposition when you include the DLC, but I can’t rate what I can’t play. A strong “don’t buy” from me, and shame on 343 Industries for not doing Bungie’s classic series justice.



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