First Impressions: Are you ready to drop?
I think that it is safe to say that Halo has become bigger than Bungie, bigger than the Xbox (both of them), perhaps even bigger than Microsoft itself. The exploits of Master Chief and the Marines of the UNSC have changed the way that people look at video games. Halo: Combat Evolved reminded us how well a first person shooter can work on a console. Halo 2 showed us that playing games online can be accessible for everybody. Halo 3 taught us to finish what we start. Now Bungie is changing the game with the upcoming release of Halo 3: ODST.
In what may be Bungie's last Halo release, Halo 3: ODST is an expansion pack to Halo 3. However, it is an expansion pack in the same way that Blue Force was an expansion pack to Half Life. It is taking the greater Halo story and telling a different point of view.
Halo 3: ODST is going to fill in the story of what happens in New Mombassa between the Slipstream Space Rupture (SSR) in Halo 2 and the beginning of Halo 3 when Master Chief wakes up in the Kenyan jungle. As a rookie in the ODST, your first drop coincides with the SSR and results in you going unconscious for about six hours. After waking up, you will have to make your way through the city of New Mombassa and find the whereabouts of your missing squadmates. As you discover evidence of your squad, you will trigger flashback sequences that fill in the time that you slept like a baby.
This may alarm some people, but only expect about 5-7 hours of campaign gameplay from Halo 3: ODST. The crew at Bungie is viewing ODST as an expansion pack to Halo 3 and is crafting the experience as such. You can count on a good value, though. While it isn't under their direct control, Bungie is shooting at a sub-$60 price tag on the title and is also packing in cooperative play mode and six additional multiplayer maps (along with all of the previously available maps from Halo 3).
Playing as an ODST instead of as a Spartan will completely change the way that you play Halo. As a, for lack of a better word, regular guy will see many direct changes. For instance, enemies will now loom over you as you lose Master Chief's height augmentation and you won't have the Spartan armor to protect you from enemy fire. As a keenly observant Bungie employee responded to comments of whether the Brute Shot was beefed up for Halo 3: ODST because he was taking what he thought was excessive damage during an early playthrough, ?That's because you're not a Spartan, dumbass.? (Thanks, Shishka) This shift in the playable character will also change the way that you play the game, encouraging stealth gameplay over the run-and-gun style that was successful when playing as Master Chief.
One of the (many) things that Bungie does well is stay in touch with their gaming community. They have a dedication to the player that you just don't see anywhere else. That dedication manifests itself often on their website
and in the extra stuff that they offer their fans. Here are a few tidbits that I culled from their recent weekly updates:
While the modified SMG has a reflex sight, you will not be looking down the barrel of the gun.
There are no Elites to fight in Halo 3: ODST.
There will be a few notable and interesting differences in ODST's control scheme when compared to Halo 3. However, Bungie isn't telling what those differences are.
?The opening sequence of ODST is the most spectacular cinematic event in any Halo game to date. The gameplay itself feels ?similar but different? from what you've grown accustomed to, and nothing makes this more clear than the moment you take control of the Rookie and take your first steps into what is left of New Mombasa." ? Shishka, Multiplayer Community Designer at Bungie