A special consideration of Halo 3:ODST has been placed on HBO - Written by 'Shake Appeal' its a telling read that pays homage to the story and context of ODST. It also made me realise I should find all the Sadie's Story elements as there was a sweet pay off in game...

Here's the final conclusion:

When evaluating Halo 3: ODST, we should remember that it's the first of Bungie's Halo titles to feature a map. It is the first game that has needed one. After all, the navigation of New Mombasa is central not only to the gameplay, but to a story in which we are searching for beacons, for our lost squad mates, for a safe route out of an occupied city.

There is a refreshingly new unity between the aspirations of Bungie's designers and the actual experience of playing their game. In this and several other crucial respects, ODST offers us storytelling that is far more successful than that of the predecessors, and even showcases Bungie's newfound ability to weave game and world.

In light of this, the disappointments are slight: the members of the squad often struggle to defy their set archetypes (and much of their dialogue is trite), while the same environmental problems of sterility and repetition are just as present in ODST as in the trilogy proper. Here, however, they serve in part to reinforce the player's singular experience of New Mombasa; and while there still exists a gulf between the purported extinction of a galactic "humanity" and the game we end up playing, it feels narrower than before: not every player will take the time to reveal all of 'Sadie's Story', but even the most casual will likely stumble upon a few logs, and hear real people recorded therein - speaking, pleading, crying.

Best of all, Bungie have lovingly sketched a cast of characters whom we can remember fondly not just for their combat banter, but for their closeness, their consistency, and - briefly, in flashes - their human feeling. When you consider that ODST was a one-year project from a small team, its flaws become less glaring, and the promise of Halo: Reach, their next full-blooded game, becomes considerable. We should leave New Mombasa, as the Rookie does, looking up.

Full post: Nine Levels

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