Halo 3: ODST Assaults Store Shelves

screenshot-halo3Microsoft and Bungie have released Halo 3: ODST, the latest installment in the companies’ long-running Halo sci-fi-combat franchise. ODST—which stands for Orbital Drop Shock Trooper—doesn’t involve the iconic Halo character Master Chief, but instead follows marines in a story related to Halo 2 as they drop into the city of New Mombasa to try to figure out what happened to members of their squad. Items found along the way supply clues to the backstory, and—in true Halo fashion—the city’s AI tries to help players along the way. And, of course, there’s lots of action and fighting, and players will even get to meet a new alien race in the Halo universe.

Halo 3: ODST was originally developed as an expansion pack for Halo 3, and instead morphed into its own game. Unlike existing Halo titles, ODST doesn’t feature Master Chief—instead, players are limited to playing as a rookie trooper, which might present a problem for folks used to playing with Master Chief’s nigh-invulnerability. ODST boasts a full campaign that can be played in single player or co-op mode, along with a Firefight mode that lets players engage in pure, story-free combat. ODST also includes all the multiplayer maps for Halo 3—plus three new ones available nowhere else—and will also provide access to the Halo: Reach beta when Bungie and Microsoft light it up in the future. The game also features new weapons, including the return of the original zooming pistol from the original Halo.

Microsoft is charging $60 for Halo 3: ODST, and opinions seem to be mixed. Although the game contains many elements that will appeal to Halo fans—like a Firefight mode and new multiplayer maps—the rest of the game may not be enough to sustain the interest of the franchises’ hard-core players—particularly if they kept up with Halo 3 content as it was released.

Halo 3: ODST is available now for the Xbox 360.