(skip to the bottom if you want to see my final thoughts) Halo: The Master Chief Collection for Xbox One has had a rather rough start. Rougher than an ODST’s landing (had to do it) into hostile territory. I love Halo, everything about it. The story, the characters, the gameplay, the expanded universe and yes I even loved Halo Wars. So when The Master Chief Collection was announced, I pre ordered it and was 3rd in line at the midnight launch. My girlfriend and I took the day off in anticipation of spending all day playing it. What followed was the most frustrating video gaming experience of our lives. It was 3 days before we even got to play it at all. I still have only managed to find about 5 multiplayer matches to this day. To make up for the issues, those of us who bought the game early were offered an apology in the way of 1 month of Xbox Live, an extra map for multiplayer and the Halo 3 ODST campaign. After playing through the ODST campaign for the last few days I have realized that ODST was much better than I thought it was. I remember I enjoyed it, with half the cast of Firefly voicing the main characters I knew it was going to be a great story. Combining that with the tried and true Halo mechanics at it’s core it was pretty much impossible for it not to be at least good. But what sold me on it, what made me love the game so much, was the setting. To this day my favourite level on any Halo game is Halo 2’s Outskirts/Metropolis. This was the first time we got to play on Earth, defending it from The Covenant. I think I was about 12 the first time I played it and all I remember was how amazed I was. I stopped so many times just to look around at the world. I would play that level over and over and pretend to be all tactical, picking cover spots and rushing to them, popping head shots with the Battle Rifle. Driving the Scorpion and Warthog around the city was also a highlight, but finishing the level by jumping off the bridge and clearing out the Scarab made me feel like such a bad ass. The cinematic of the entire city being leveled when The Covenant Cruiser does a slipspace jump was also something I’ll never forget.
When it was announced that ODST would be set completely in that same city, right after the Cruiser had destroyed everything, I was pumped! It was roughly two years after Halo 3 had come out and I had played the hell out of that game, I needed a new fix. I pre ordered ODST which came with a limited edition ODST Xbox 360 controller. Months trickled by, I could barely contain my excitement. Then the day came. ODST was out! Flash forward 6 odd years since that day and I have to admit I had pretty much all but forgotten about ODST. I haven’t played it in a year or two. With games like Destiny, Battlefield Hardline, Dragon Age Inquisition and Forza Horizon 2 competing for my attention it’s been hard to go back to the old 360. As I write this I’ve played around two thirds of the campaign and I have to say, I think ODST may have gotten even better with age. How is that possible you may be asking? Well, I feel like the majority of games these days, while utterly spectacular in their presentation, are rather hollow. A lot of games these days are almost beta tests, with a small nugget of the game to lure you in and hook you so that when they release the subsequent DLC’s you’re almost starved for content. Although ODST was sort of a DLC, I feel like it was a complete package. Between the campaign and Firefight, as well as getting all the Halo 3 multiplayer maps, you had pretty much all that you needed to get you through to Halo: Reach. ODST had an awesome voice cast featuring Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Tricia Helfer and Adam Baldwin among others. These actors who you may know from shows like Firefly and Battlestar Galactica really helped sell the story. Given that your character barely makes a sound, you rely a lot on the voice actors to guide the story and I think they nailed the whole serious/funny balancing act quite well.
The story was one that wasn’t going to surprise anyone but I still think it’s one of the best tales that the Halo universe has told. The detective style ‘piece the clues of what happened’ format was a great mix up to the normal linear style of gameplay we’ve come to expect from the Halo franchise. I genuinely felt like I wanted to find my squad and help them. The freedom to explore the near-wiped out city while being alone and significantly weaker than Master Chief really added to the tension. The creepy flickers of screens and random robotic voices still give me the heeby-jeebies. I won’t ruin anything here but I will say there is something for everyone in the ODST story. Love, laughter, loss and tension all play a part in making this an enjoyable story to unfold. Thankfully nothing has really been changed in the Xbox One version of ODST. The story remains intact and the voice acting is even better than I remember. I am truly loving playing ODST’s campaign again, it’s a throwback to the simpler days of gaming. Before raids and levels dictated your experience. Before DLC contained more levels than the disc. Before you had to have 500 million dollars to invest in a game to make it good. Those things are all amazing examples of how far gaming has come in such a short time, but it’s nice to get a little reminder of where we came from and how there was a few games that still hold up to today’s standards.
Halo 3 ODST’s campaign is a great addition to The Master Chief Collection which has been cursed from the get-go. Those of you who bought MCC early will be getting it for free so nothing to complain about there. For those of you considering buying it, if you’ve played ODST before and enjoyed it, you will enjoy this. If you are curious about ODST I would say it’s worth the money to pick it up.
The game holds it’s own against even some of today’s games. With the exception of a few things like no sprinting there isn’t a whole lot that shows that this game is nearly 6 years old. I’ve been playing a lot of Destiny lately and while I do enjoy it, it’s rather serious. I have to spend a long time on forums and co-ordinating with people to get the most of that game and ODST is the exact opposite of that. My level doesn’t dictate what I can and can’t do and while I know these are completely different games, I feel like it’s worth mentioning because a lot of games require insane amounts of time and devotion to get the most out of it.
I like that I can sit down and experience everything the game is by myself and should I decide I want a friend to join then the option is there. I think that somehow the ODST campaign has gotten better with age. I had genuinely forgotten that games can be fun without being perfect. I had forgotten that games can be challenging without needing 5 of your friends to help you out. I forgot that you can be immersed in a story simply by being told it through actors who are really talented.
The voice acting is as good as ever and I still find myself wandering around parts of the city, crouch walking to avoid enemies and switching to night vision mode just to feel like a badass. The city is a perfect setting for any Halo game and ODST nailed it. I really wish Firefight had been included because that was a huge part of what made ODST great but hey, they may add it later. The ODST campaign probably isn’t enough for me to return to The Master Chief Collection but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
– The same old ODST you know and love
– Nathan Fillion is…well he’s Nathan Fillion
– Nice break from the seriousness of games like Destiny while still being engaging
– Eerie sense of being truly alone and weak
– Tense setting in the aftermath of Halo 2
– Challenging without being difficult
The Not So Good
– No Firefight
– Lack of sprinting is weird coming from newer games
– Ai can be a little dodgey
– Graphics are a little dated
– (nitpicking) Why is the ODST campaign buried in Halo 3’s menu?
Have you played ODST on Xbox One? What did you think? Let me know in the comments or tweet me @pikalew