Originally, Halo: ODST was going to be released as a game-add on. This is the first thing you need to bear in mind when picking it up. For some reason, Bungie decided that it was becoming too big and made it into a full game. This fact shows. ODST is very short. You can complete the campaign in a couple of hours if you don’t go around taking in the scenery. Critics of the game have said that it’s not worth paying full price for half a game even with the added extras. I was bitterly disappointed with the hours played myself; it seemed to end very suddenly.

ODST stands for: Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. You don’t play as super Spartans this time round and Master chief is nowhere to be found. ODSTs are the first in the battle; ‘dropping’ onto a planet’s surface and doing recon with your fellow troopers before sending in the marines.

The game takes place in the year 2552 and the setting is New Mombassa on Earth after the Covenant have invaded. You are not alone in this mission and get to play as four different characters. The team scatters as you drop onto New Mombassa and you spend the rest of the game trying to find them. There is the leader, Dare- the token woman of the group, who happens to have romantic history with Sergeant Buck. There is the heavy weapons master, Corporal Dutch, and lastly Corporal Romeo who is the marksman of the team. Each member of the ODST has different areas of expertise that you can master during the game. Playing as the different characters keeps the game refreshing and the story flowing. When you, as the Rookie, find a clue to where your teammates have gone, there is a flashback that reveals what has happened, which you get to star in.

The constant change in time period, and use of flashbacks, is an interesting story telling device and seems to be the fashion nowadays. The only thing softening the game’s brevity  is that it comes with a second disk. The extra disk includes all the multiplayer maps and goodies released during Halo’s golden days. This was a plus for me as I was never one for spending money on maps, even though technically I’ve done it by purchasing ODST. The second disk however, wouldn’t be much use to someone who did download all the extras and a complete waste of money.

A few complaints I’ve heard from fellow gamers is that even though the ODST’s are human, they are too much like the genetically modified Spartans. The troopers are meant to be ordinary humans in Recon armour, therefore they should not be able to jump as high as Spartans or run as fast; but it seems that is not the case. But, your health bar does run out quickly if you run full pelt into combat and you need to heal yourself pronto before you die. There’s no magical recharging. Bungie also tried to make the game grittier and more atmospheric; such as setting it mostly in the dark and while it’s raining. To some extent, they succeeded but the details could have been refined and made even dirtier. Another plus side is… Halo: Reach beta! Anyone with the ODST disk was able to experience the multiplayer of this highly anticipated game. Sadly, the period to play Halo: Reach on Xbox Live came to an end on May 20th.

Halo: ODST seems to be merely a warm up for Reach. It can be missed, but if you’re a dedicated Halo fan, then it adds a little extra to the Halo universe.