Available for XBOX 360.

Halo is one of the most recognizable and loved franchises in video game history.  Over 27 million Halo games have sold since Halo Combat Evolved launched in 2001, which means each title brings with it big expectations and big shoes to fill. Halo ODST is the latest title in the franchise and fills those shoes to a point.  Originally meant to be an expansion to Halo 3 in an effort to tide over loyal fans until Halo Reach's 2010 launch, Halo ODST has packed two discs full of campaign and multiplayer experiences.


The game takes place during the events of Halo 2.  If you remember anything about the Halo 2 storyline, you will know this isn't a good thing.  Trouble down on Earth brings ODST soldiers into the fray, and you get to play a rookie in their midst.  ODST stands for Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, which basically explains what it is they do.  ODST soldiers are dropped from space to Earth in one-man pods to wreak havoc on Covenant bad guys.  At the very beginning of the game, the events of Halo 2 cause the Covenant's Prophet of Regret to make an emergency slipstream exit, which sends out shock waves separating the ODST soldiers in mid drop and scattering them all over New Mombasa.

For those not familiar with the Halo story let me offer a brief explanation.  The Covenant are a theocratic race of aliens who invade Earth after their "Prophets" declare humanity an affront to their religion.  The thing is, the "ringworlds" or "halos" they believe are paths to salvation are actually giant weapons.  In the end, it's fairly basic "science fiction crazy-alien zealots try to destroy Earth but humans won't let them."

The campaign story in ODST is darker than the other Halo stories but is the main reason to buy the game. You wake up six hours after your initial crash landing and things have not gone well for your peers.  Your job is to eradicate any Covenant baddies still around while locating your team.  Various flashbacks occur, allowing you to play out the last six hours as members of your team.

Because you play both your rookie character and others in your team during the time you were unconscious, the plot shifts back and forth in time.  While in many titles this is confusing and all-together unsatisfying, the use of this story telling technique in ODST is both successful and rewarding.  Small details like keeping the same weapons you had when you left off with a previous storyline, and audio clips that give you a taste of New Mombasa during the initial Covenant attack and add the authenticity.


The gameplay during campaign mode is as solid as ever for a Halo game.  The storyline is very much at home in the "Halo Nation" of products, bringing with it a nostalgic feel of weapon choices and player controls.  Unlike in Halo 3, ODST takes on the story from a perspective vacant of Master Chief,  and his better-than-normal suit and weapon capabilities.  Halo ODST Players cannot jump ten feet or heal miraculously like in the past, and their starter weapons are reminiscent of a more gritty Halo experience.  In fact, your character handles much more like Master Chief did in Hal Combat Evolved and his long-range, scoped pistol just about completes the throwback package. 

While the campaign mode is by far the best part of ODST, gameplay has improved on co-operative mode by introducing the Firefight mode.  In this mode, players battle wave after wave of Covenant bad guys on maps from the Halo ODST storyline.  Also, playing split screen co-op in the main storyline is a favorite of mine.  And when there's no one around to play with, pop in disc 2 and go online to battle on all of the Halo 3 maps and three new ones.  While this online multiplayer experience is really nothing new to those who played Halo 3, the online experience is a solid environment which will provide for months of online first person shooter action.