Halo 3: ODST was released on September 22nd, 2009, 10 years ago to the day.
ODST launched in between Halo 3 and Halo: Reach, and was supposed to be a smaller one off. While initially billed as a smaller scale project, it soon became apparent that ODST was a classic in the making.
ODST is the first Halo game in which the Master Chief is not the hero. You play as the Rookie, an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. You are dropped into a city that has been taken over by the Covenant. When you are dropped, you are separated from your fellow ODST’s and throughout the game you must find out what happened to them.
The main pull of the game is what separates it from every other Halo game. In Halo 1, 2, and 3, you are the Master Chief. A hero, you command the field like no other soldier. You strike fear in the hearts of the covenant, and you feel as though you are nearly invincible.
In ODST, you are just a rookie, and you are several pegs below the Master Chief. You’re not helpless, but you feel isolated. You feel like you’re just good enough to survive, but are never completely safe.
The feeling of isolation and fear that is present throughout the entire game is what makes it so unique, and makes it one of the best in the series.
The star of the game has to be New Mombasa. The city feels desolate, quiet,in turmoil. You have arrived after the covenant have done their damage. You explore winding streets, a city on fire, and a world that is under distress.
The game is a bit of an open world, and the city is interconnected. Your only goal is to uncover the mysteries of what has happened.
The game has a noir feel, a feeling of isolation and mystery, and that is helped by the incredible score of Marty O’Donnell. O’Donnell has been near flawless in every game he scores, but in ODST he flexes his muscles to show he can create tone and mood like no other.
It’s incredible. It sounds like a mix of classic halo music with smooth jazz, and it completely enhances the experience.
Walking through a dark, desolate city with music that matches the tone of the game is an incredible example of multiple elements coming together.
Halo 3: ODST was supposed to be a stop gap between two massive Halo titles, but ended up being the most unique and memorable title in the series.
The shift from super soldier dominating a battlefield to a rookie as part of a team of soldiers is a very sudden one, but it completely works.
The gameplay, tone, setting, and score all work, and it lead to a great Halo game. ODST turns 10 today, and while we may never see another Halo like this, it will always hold a special place in a lineage of great games.