This is the last installment of my State of Halo series. I've covered all of the released games with the exception of Halo 3:ODST. I'm going to break my rules and do a separate post for Reach. There is too much cool stuff with ODST to not cover it.
Halo 3:ODST was released in 2009 as an "expansion" for Halo 3. It shipped with a Halo 3 map pack disc that included all down loadable maps for Halo 3. Most players felt like the game was a rip off. Most avid Halo 3 players already had all the maps. The campaign can be completed in about 6 hours and the new game mode "Firefight" wasn't ideal for players with small friends lists.
ODST opens on a ship orbiting Earth during the Covenant invasion of Earth. This technically takes place during Halo 2. You play as "The Rookie". A quiet solider that was a lone survivor of some crazy campaign who has been reassigned to a new unit. Mush like Master Chief, you don't ever see the Rookie's face. Bungie has taken this approach for the player to feel like they character in the game. It fits well that the rookie doesn't talk much. You don't encounter many people that you could talk to in the game anyway.
ODSTs are the equivalent of the Air Born divisions of our current military. They are dropped from orbit into the middle of battle. Live action trailer. Some thing goes wrong during the drop and your pod hits the side of a building and you wake up several hours later. Your objective is to explore the ruined city of New Mombasa and try to find your fellow teammates.
The city is crawling with Covenant squats of Brutes and Grunts. Jackals are on random roof tops and are capable of bringing you down easily on the Hard and Legendary difficulty levels. You'll also encounter Hunter groups which are just better to navigate around than to take on. You do encounter a new Covenant race called "Engineers" by the humans. Brutes essentially strap bombs to them and make them blow up after you kill all the Covenant around them. Engineers provide an extra shield for everything around them. Its a good idea to take one down before taking on a group of Brutes, but you sacrifice an achievement for doing this. Engineers play an important role later in the story of the game. Unfortunately you do not take on any Elites and thankfully there are no endless swarms of Flood.
Essentially the player goes around and finds clues about his teammates whereabouts. When you find a clue, you take over as one of your teammates and play through a rough scenario. While playing as the Rookie you explore the city in the dark with a new VISR heads up display, unlock weapon caches, see lots of dead bodies, and run around in circles. New Mombasa has a rather small map. Playing as one of your teammates is like playing a traditional level in any other Halo game. The campaign is really fun and complete change from other Halo games. Focusing on stealth is crucial while playing as the Rookie and just playing smart while being one of your teammates.
The firepower in this game toned down a lot. Rocket launchers, lazers, and sniper rifles aren't found very often, but they are provided when heavy vehicles are on the way. There is no dual wielding, but you can play through most of the game with the pistol. It's a lot like the original Halo pistol. It zooms, has a high rate of fire, and can take out a lot of Grunts with ease. There are no BRs, and Assault Rifles and shot guns are pretty rare. Brutes are really hard to take down with human equipment.
Two big changes in this game are the HUD and health system. Your player has a night vision like display that will outline items, teammates and bad guys. It makes running around in the dark pretty awesome, but its completely worthless in daylight (during all the teammate missions). The new health system is like the original Halo health system but you have just as much health as you do stamina (or shields). If you hear your player breathing heavily, take cover and your stamina will go back up. Health packs are real easy to find in the game, but you sometimes have to backtrack to get to them later in the game.
The new multiplayer mode, Firefight, provides a completely new style of play. You and three other friends take on an unlimited number of waves of covenant. Waves start as a bunch of grunts and brutes, and eventually upgrade to jetpack brutes, jackal snipers and hunters. After every 4 or 5 waves weapon caches get refilled and you get some more lives. This is my preferred mode of choice because you really have to work as a team to do well in this mode. The only problem is that it can be difficult to round up enough friends to play. There is no matchmaking for this game type. IE you can't play with strangers like you can in Slayer in Halo 3. Firefight essentially goes until you're out of lives which can be up to 5 or 6 hours.
ODST by far is my favorite Halo game, but not just because you don't fight the Flood. The game takes a lot of strategy that the other Halo games don't have. You can't run up to a Brute guns blazing and meleeing when in range and you totally can't take on Hunter pairs while together.