By Oo Gin Lee
|Halo 3: ODST
|» Price: $75.90
» Genre: First-person shooter
» Platform: Xbox 360
» Rating: 8/10
THE Halo franchise never fails to get Xbox gamers all excited, especially those who have played the entire trilogy from as far back as 2001.
That was when Halo was launched as the poster boy for the then-freshly minted Xbox console.
So when this game started out with my hero falling from the sky in a one-man drop pod with tens of other fellow Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODST), I had to stop myself from squealing in delight.
The anti-climax came within a few seconds when I realised that the free-fall drama was just an opening act. The game should have let me shoot the enemy Covenant soldiers below while descending at breakneck speed, but it did not.
In Halo ODST, you play a rookie marine who wakes up six hours later after the drop to find the entire city of New Mombasa in ruins.
The streets are desolate and the background game music infuses the air with despair. You have only a lousy sub-machine gun and pistol, both with limited ammunition, and you need to find the rest of your fellow Helljumpers and enemies lurk.
The good news is that they are the same old Jackals, Brutes and Hunters, which Halo players are familiar with. The bad news is that you are not the superhuman Master Chief but a lousy rookie who must fight a lot harder to stay alive.
As you traverse the streets, you will come across signal beacons embedded in armour and weapons left behind by your squad. Whenever you find one, you are transported back in time to tell the story of what happened to your squad mates.
However, these are not just movie cutscenes; you actually control each squad mate in the flashbacks and retrieve the data pack that was your team's original mission.
The gameplay is slow when you are playing the Rookie levels, but when you are controlling the other characters during the flashbacks, the action is fast and varied.
Developer Bungie has added the Firefight mode where you can play alone or with three other friends as a team and there is a shared pool of extra lives.
The entire ODST campaign should take a seasoned Halo player about seven to eight hours to complete, which feels rather short. With Firefight, you could go on for much longer.
Know yourself, know your enemy.
A thousand battles, a thousand victories.
Heed these words from Chinese strategist Sun Tzu and you will stay alive as you figure out the right tack to deal with the different Covenant soldiers.
You have the Grunts, who are small and weak, so any weapon will take them out with ease but they are also suicidal and will jump at you with bombs on them.
The Jackals are armed with an energy shield and are agile, so throwing grenades will not work so well. The plasma rifle is great because it can destroy the shield and has continuous fire.
The Brutes are huge and will close down on you for melee. Throwing sticky bombs at them works well as they are slower. Just stay away from close combat.
Finally, you have the Hunters. They are very nasty and you must unleash the heavy weapons you have been saving up on them.
This story was first published in The Straits Times Digital Life.
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