Last weekend I played through Halo 3: ODST as part of the Master Chief Collection. It’s an extra £4 as DLC, which is a bit much if you’ve already paid for the full collection, but it was worth it to play the game again.

Looking back through my blog archives, I didn’t seem super enthusiastic about this game when it came out in 2009. I called it out for being too expensive, too short, and I didn’t like the slow pace. I was looking forward to the excitement and the spectacle of a big fantasy space opera, and ODST… did not deliver.

odst_neon_highway

The streets of New Mombasa are dingy and the tone is sombre.

odst_night_vision

When you descend into ONI headquarters at the end of the game, the tunnels are shrouded in this threatening mist. Lasers shoot out from blind corners.

odst_tunnels

It’s oppressive, it forces you to be on your toes. Unlike every previous game so far, you’re not a super soldier, the game forces you to be vulnerable.

odst_brute

Compare that to the green hills and sparkling blue lakes of Halo 2.

halo_2_bridge

Or the epic battle scenes of Halo 3.

There’s a sense of freedom in this landscape, and it’s reflected in the way you move. Leaping around the place in true bouncy space marine style.

halo_2_lake

Meanwhile ODST is all about this weird quiet moment, at night, after the battle. You’re lost, wandering around the ruins trying to work out what happened.

I enjoyed the game much more this time around, and I think I understand it better now.