At the end of HALO 3: ODST a throw away character named Romeo delivers that line in an attempt to be clever. Instead the result was irony and back when said line was written it was unknowingly prophetic.
Let’s talk about the war first. The war part of ODST is almost as good as video game type war gets. Solid Halo 3 game play with an almost messianic return of the Mag-pistol, complete with scope, and the added layer of scrambling in the dark or fighting through a pack of Brutes for a life sustaining med kit. Quickly swinging the game experience pendulum from ‘head shot god’ to ‘frail human on the run’ adds a missing layer of tension, which is also fun, to the third installment of the series.
Bungie has been, not so transparently, telling anyone that will listen that Firefight is a survival game type and that survival modes have been around since the beginning of the video game era. Everyone knows Firefight is their answer to Gear’s Horde mode but having said that Firefight is the strongest part of the package and is the reason for the product’s being. Let me put it this way. Firefight is good enough the get four grown men, who set up their own little worlds in such a way that they wouldn't have to deal with anything they don’t want to, to set their interests aside and work together so they can survive longer the next time around.
It is a good thing that the mechanics of the game are so compelling because there isn’t any story to drive it along. Everything about the single player campaign is terribly shallow. You play as a speechless rookie and your name is … Rookie. There is a love story in there somewhere but why should I care if Bungie didn’t? Dear Bungie, repeatedly alluding to one shallow evening long past and not taking it anywhere or developing it doesn’t qualify as a story. Cliché is too kind a word.
At certain times the wandering of the deserted city of New Mombasa by your silent avatar is interrupted by well presented cut scenes. Well presented yes but still empty. During these attempts at story telling the rookie looks around or shakes his head and wonders, much like you do, “Why am I here?” “Do I really care how this got here?” At one point Rookie picks up a piece of scrap metal and shakes it vigorously literally begging for some sort of reason to fall from it. Nothing does.
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