I haven’t played an Xbox 360 game in about five months, ever since finishing “Bayonetta”, so it’s good to see that the thing is still fully operational – I did have to run a dashboard update, of course, but that’s to be expected.
I wasn’t REALLY worried, of course. The Xbox 360 I’m using these days is one of the new “Slim” models, painstakingly hand-imported from Japan back in August, and not my original Xbox 360 which has already died once and which will inevitably die again, this time out of warranty.
Such is life.
Anyway, my midterms are over and I decided I’d treat myself to a few hours of Shooting Mans.
Fortunately, I had Mans Aplenty to shoot. A couple of weeks ago, I was in our local Fred Meyers and noticed that they’d marked Halo: Reach down to 30 bucks, with ODST right next to it at 20 bucks. $50 later, I owned All The Halos.
So, this weekend, I decided to put ODST into the ‘360 and see what playing A Halo Game Where You’re Not A Spartan was like.
It turns out to be quite a bit different. Rather than being an unstoppable juggernaut casually blasting your way through hordes of Covenant to Stirring Orchestral Accompaniment, you’re, well, you’re still quite tough – there’s no question there – but you’re considerably more frail.
For example: Grunts, which are more or less forgettable in the original Halo trilogy, become enemies you have to pay attention to, especially when the cute little cannon fodder is carrying, oh, Big Damn Anti-Tank Cannons as opposed to the pea shooters they’re normally known for, and enemies that were a bit of a challenge from Master Chief’s perspective become Serious Business. The first time I got into any Serious Combat took me a good dozen tries to get through it, mostly because I was having so much trouble adapting to how I needed to play.
Wow, that’s a lot of whining to cover up how bad I am at these games. 🙂
It’s not just that your character is a bit of a wimp, though. The game’s story is told in reverse and has a very different pacing from a Proper Halo Game. It starts out with your character – part of a small team – stranded in a rather creepy abandoned city at night, running around the city trying to figure out what happened to the rest of your team. As you find various items – a discarded helmet here, a twisted and broken sniper rifle there – you participate in flashback missions to the events of the day. These flashbacks are full of action and things blowing up and Manly Men Doing Manly Things, and the first couple of them were quite relieving – rather than running around a dark city dodging patrols, you’re driving warthogs around and shouting ooh-rah and generally making things go boom.
In one of them, you drive a tank, and things REALLY go boom.
After a couple of them, however, the “Proper Halo” levels started being almost unwelcome – I was starting to really quite enjoy the quiet and slower-paced city “hub” and the transitions out of and into it were rather jarring.
Eventually, though, the flashbacks catch up to the Here and Now, and the last couple of levels were Really Quite Good.
In a strange coincidence, I played through the last two levels immediately after watching three episodes of Castle with my wife, so when “Gunnery Sergeant Buck” started talking, I did a bit of a double take. It was a little tricky taking him seriously after that point. 🙂
I didn’t pay attention at the time, but apparently there was a fair deal of controversy surrounding ODST. It’s quite short for a Halo game and doesn’t cover much new ground, so people apparently balked a bit at being asked to pay $60 for it when it was released.
17 months later, at 20 bucks, I thought it was well worth the price of admission.