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.
The streets of New Mombasa are dingy and the tone is sombre.
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.
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.
Compare that to the green hills and sparkling blue lakes of Halo 2.
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.
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.