Halo 3: ODST
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Halo 3: ODST (formerly Halo 3: Recon) is a first-person shooter video game developed by Bungie for the Xbox 360. Halo 3: ODST was released worldwide on September 22, 2009, at 12:00 midnight. The game is a prologue to Halo 3 which bridges the events in southeastern Kenya between Halo 2 and Halo 3.
An official five-part prequel comic, Halo: Helljumper, was released in the months leading up to and after the release of ODST, starting in July, and ending in November. An Xbox LIVE invitation to the Multiplayer Beta of Halo: Reach, announced at E3 2009, was included with ODST, and ran from May 3, 2010 through May 20, 2010.
On December 20, 2014, it was announced that Halo 3: ODST's campaign mode would be included in Halo: The Master Chief Collection on Xbox One as a free content update to players who had played the collection between its release on November 11, 2014 and December 19, 2014 at 11:59pm PDT, serving as compensation to said fans who had experienced many bugs and glitches in the weeks following the collection's launch. The Halo 3: ODST campaign was officially released as DLC for The Master Chief Collection on May 30, 2015. Players not eligible for the free DLC can purchase the ODST campaign add-on for $4.99 USD. On June 10, 2020, it was announced that ODST's Firefight mode would be joining The Master Chief Collection in Summer 2020. The release date was later announced for September 22, 2020 - eleven years to the day since the game's original launch. However, like Halo 3 for PC, ODST was released a day early.[note 1]
Characters and setting
Taking place in the Kenyan port city of New Mombasa, ODST follows a squad of elite Marine Orbital Drop Shock Troopers during the Covenant invasion of Earth on October 20th, 2552.The ODSTs were knocked off course due to the Mombasa Slipspace Incident, these five Marines lead by an ONI officer fight through the waste-filled, destroyed streets in order to link up with each other, evade the Covenant, and execute a top secret mission.
Shown after the copyright text and the Bungie and Microsoft Game Studios logos, which is cut in the MCC version, and before the main menu, or the first cutscene in the MCC version, is an opening scroll.
The game begins at around 4:00pm, October 20th, 2552. The majority of an ODST squad are preparing for the mission on board the UNSC Say My Name orbiting high above New Mombasa, Kenya. They are grouped around a holo-table, which shows the Covenant Prophet of Regret's assault carrier, Solemn Penance, hovering near the city's space tether. Corporal Taylor "Dutch" Miles, Lance Corporal Kojo "Romeo" Agu, and Private First Class Michael "Mickey" Crespo are gathered around the holo-table. Lance Corporal "Rookie" is asleep in his SOEIV drop pod at the back of the room.
Romeo jokingly remarks how the UNSC Navy managed to put up a fight during the Invasion of Earth, but still allowed a Covenant carrier to slip by the Orbital Defense Platforms surrounding the planet. Dutch criticizes Romeo, stating that the Navy left the lone ship for the Marines to infiltrate. The ODSTs are soon put on alert when their team leader, Gunnery Sergeant Edward Buck, enters the room with an attractive ONI operative named Veronica Dare. Romeo utters "Hello, beautiful" in response to Dare's appearance, catching Buck's attention and prompting him to order the ODSTs to their drop pods.
While walking to the nearby armory, Buck is stopped by Dare, who remarks that the members of his squad are replacements. Buck acknowledges the problem, but notes that after 27 years of war with the Covenant, very few veterans are left in the UNSC. Conflicted about what she likely told him prior to entering the room, Buck confronts Dare about the objective of his team, stating the assault carrier (carrying the Prophet of Regret) is a more vital concern than her covert mission. Dare reminds him that they have orders to follow, and that she should be referred to as "Captain", in keeping with military regulations.
Buck directs the Captain to her pod, where Romeo asks about her; obviously angry about the mission, Buck confronts the curious Lance Corporal, replying that she is their "new boss". He gives a short speech to his men to motivate them for the drop, and hands an SRS99D Sniper Rifle to Romeo, drawing questions from the squad, who were anticipating a close range battle inside the Covenant assault carrier. While en route to his own drop pod, Romeo rudely awakens the Rookie, hitting him with the butt of his rifle (at which point the camera changes to a first-person view) while the Rookie lies asleep in his pod. Dutch pushes Romeo out of the way and hands the Rookie a silenced SMG, telling the ODST to relax despite Romeo's obnoxious behavior; the Rookie's pod is then closed, spun around, and lowered into the launch bay to begin drop preparations along with the rest of the squad.
Marine forces are informed by Dare that the Covenant ground troops are massing beneath the assault carrier for an organized retreat. Dozens of ODSTs are launched into Earth's atmosphere in a coordinated drop to infiltrate and capture the Prophet of Regret aboard the assault carrier. They pass by a few destroyed Frigates slowly falling from orbit around the elevator, and begin to enter cloud cover above the city. As they pass through it and approach the carrier, the Captain orders the squad to adjust their trajectory; sending the ODST's "way off" of their intended course, in Mickey's words following the order.
Before the ODST's are able to deploy their internal parachutes in preparation for landing, however, Dutch picks up a radiation alert in his pod, and the assault carrier proceeds to enter slipspace, closely followed by the UNSC frigate In Amber Clad. The radiation and energy burst emitted by the slipspace rupture disables the drop pods before they are able to deploy their parachutes, sending them out of control; the ODSTs are scattered across New Mombasa. Dare's commandeered squad, farthest away from the slipspace rupture, manages to survive the fall, but the remaining ODST's aiming for the carrier are killed in action. During the fall, the Rookie's pod collides with Mickey's pod, sending it out of control. The high-G forces caused by the impact knocks the Rookie unconscious.
The Rookie awakens
Six hours after the drop (10:02pm), the Rookie awakens to the sound of two Phantoms flying nearby. He soon regains his situational awareness, discovering that his drop pod is lodged in a building at least twenty feet off the ground. With no choice, he jumps out of the pod, and falls to the street, slightly injuring himself when he hits the ground. After combing the area for medical supplies, he heads in to the city to find his squad.
Almost immediately after starting out, the Rookie encounters a few Covenant patrols covering a small area. The Rookie uses his silenced weaponry to eliminate the patrols, after which he is alerted to a ringing data terminal. Upon accessing the terminal, the Rookie is connected to the Superintendent, a second-generation "dumb" AI tasked with maintaining the city's infrastructure. The A.I. provides the Rookie with data that had been previously unlocked by Dare. The Superintendent begins to assist the Rookie, giving him maps, marking notable locations throughout the city, and providing warnings using road signs.
As the Rookie travels throughout the city, he finds clues regarding the fate of his squadmates. When the Rookie finds a clue, the game's perspective shifts to that of the relevant ODST.
Six hours earlier, Buck had landed somewhat safely (if uncomfortably) and made radio contact with Dare, who told him that she had been trapped in her drop pod. With the assistance of Marines in the area, Buck fought his way to her position. Along the way, he noticed a "family feud" within the Covenant, as many Sangheili were found dead and seemed to have been killed by the Brutes. By the time Buck got to Dare's pod, she was nowhere to be found. Buck noticed a Huragok, and saw that it was holding Dare's helmet in one of its tentacles. Curious, the alien began to examine Buck. Having mistaken its curiosity for hostility, Romeo sniped the inquisitive alien, inadvertently triggering the bomb mounted on its back. The resulting explosion threw the helmet out of sight, although the Superintendent recorded a video showing where it landed. Romeo and Buck regrouped, the former stating his belief that Dare was dead. The Rookie later finds the helmet.
Meanwhile, Dutch landed in the Uplift Nature Reserve, where he led a Warthog charge in an effort to breach Covenant defenses and secure the long-departed carrier's landing zone. Mickey had landed nearby, and stumbled upon retreating Marines, along with a tank. Mickey used a Scorpion to bring the Marines to their rally point: the entrance to ONI Alpha Site. There, he and Dutch regrouped and found a desperate police officer, who was searching for an explosives expert. Mickey, who had originally hoped to dig in at the rally point and wait for backup, was pressed into service, and he and Dutch headed to the ONI Alpha Site with the police officer in tow.
The two ODSTs worked with the officer and several Marines to defend the ONI complex. Dutch and Mickey used explosives to destroy the bridge leading to the base, but the Covenant easily countered by using Phantoms to land troops past the broken bridge. The courtyard was quickly overrun by Covenant forces, prompting the besieged humans to retreat to the structure's interior. The humans are eventually forced to retreat from the building using a police Pelican. As they fled, they destroyed the base using remotely-detonated explosives, preventing the Covenant from using the structure and its contained information. While in flight, Dutch and Mickey managed to re-establish communication with Buck; they headed to the NMPD Headquarters to pick him up.
Upon arriving and attempting to land on a rooftop to pick up Buck and Romeo, Mickey, Dutch and their NMPD allies were attacked by Banshees, and their Pelican is shot down. Buck and Romeo fight their way across the rooftops of the NMPD HQ to the downed Pelican and their squadmates. There, the four ODSTs used missile pods, heavy machine guns, and rocket launchers to defend the building from Banshees and Phantoms with landing parties. They were successful in repelling the Covenant assault, but in the process, Romeo was badly wounded by a Brute Chieftain, and their Pelican was damaged and left inoperable.
Buck led the group to Kikowani Station, planning to use the tram system to escape the city, stabilizing Romeo with biofoam along the way. Upon arrival, however, the group discovered that the tram tunnels had been flooded. They proceeded to hijack a Phantom and escape the city, fighting their way past enemy Banshees and even a Scarab in the process. Along the way, they noticed several CCS-class battlecruisers moving toward the crater left by the assault carrier's slipspace jump. After escaping the city proper, Buck realized where Dare was, and ordered Mickey to turn back and set him down.
Reunited with the Team
Meanwhile, the Rookie, having made his way to the Superintendent's Data Center, finds Captain Dare locked in on sub-level nine. She reveals that her orders were to fight her way to the AI's data center and retrieve the information that had recently been discovered about what lay beneath the city, and deny access to the Covenant. The data center, however, had been infested with an entire hive of Drones, which in turn were supported by numerous other Covenant forces. She explains that this was why she requisitioned a whole squad for her mission: it would have been suicide to fight these forces alone.
Dare and the Rookie fight their way to the data center, arriving just as the severely damaged Superintendent finally shuts down. Closer inspection of the AI's core by the pair reveals a lone, hiding Huragok. Dare reveals an ONI discovery: the Huragok were enslaved by the Covenant, and have little love for their overlords. She also reveals that this particular Huragok, nicknamed Vergil due to its absorption of the Vergil subroutine in the Superintendent, has combined its knowledge with the information possessed by the Superintendent, information that can aid humanity in the war.
The two convince the Huragok to follow them just as the Covenant arrive; Buck arrives at the same time. They escape the data core and fight though hordes of Covenant troops before reaching an elevator, which takes them to the city's coastal highway. Buck informs Dare and the Rookie that he has a stolen Phantom waiting in the shipyards down the highway. Vergil powers up an Olifant; Dare drives, while the Rookie and Buck provide supporting fire from a Warthog, and later, a Scorpion.
More Covenant ships enter the city, and the fleet begins to glass the area in an attempt to uncover the buried Forerunner Portal to the Ark. Buck, having witnessed glassing during the Battle of Reach, is particularly disturbed by the sight. A Scarab manages to score a direct hit on the Oliphant, damaging it severely and forcing the ODSTs to abandon their vehicles and take cover inside the building entrance to Uplift Wildlife Reserve. Buck orders Mickey to provide extraction instead of waiting for them to arrive.
The ODSTs endure multiple Covenant attacks while waiting for Mickey to arrive. When Mickey and the rest of the squad reach their position, the group boards their captured Phantom, narrowly avoiding a Covenant carrier's glassing beam. They escape the city as more and more Covenant ships arrive to excavate the portal.
A month later, Admiral Terrence Hood has given Sergeant Major Avery Johnson clearance to interrogate Vergil on an ONI orbital facility. Dare warns Johnson to be careful. As the two enter the room, they see Vergil toying with the optics of a drone fighter. The squad is clustered around the Huragok, with the Rookie asleep in a corner. Johnson casually tosses his lighter to the delicate (and flammable) creature, much to Dare's alarm, which Johnson ignores. Johnson expresses the mutual loathing that humans and the Huragok share towards the Brutes, and appeals to Vergil to help the human cause, stating that "You're (Vergil) gonna tell me exactly what they're looking for. And then, you're gonna help me stop 'em." Vergil raises the lighter, flicks it open, and lights the cigar that Johnson just placed in his mouth, suggesting that the Engineer is friendly and willing to cooperate with the humans.
An additional scene plays upon completing the game on Legendary. The Prophet of Truth is seen in the chamber that houses the Superintendent's core, smiling as more Huragok uncover an extensive Forerunner complex beneath the dirt.
ODST has the main protagonist, the Rookie, searching for beacons across the city of New Mombasa. It is up to the player on how to get to any specific location, giving a very open-world feeling to the game; this is in contrast to the main trilogy, which has been criticized for its linear gameplay style. The "beacons" are various objects, each linked to a particular squad mate in some way. Finding one of these objects sends the player back in the game to find out what happened to one of his five squadmates (Buck, Dare, Dutch, Romeo, and Mickey). Once you go back in time for a short period, you will take control of the player for a single mission, and play the situations that the particular character went through. Unlike the overall game, these flashback scenes go along the path of the linear gameplay that has been common throughout the original trilogy of Halo.
Due to the fact the player is an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, the motion tracker and shielding featured in the MJOLNIR battle armor suit are not available and the player must instead rely on a more traditional health bar/medkit system. The shielding is replaced with stamina through breathing intervals but it can still take damage from falling down from heights naturally. On some levels, the player is able to receive energy shielding on top of their stamina and health bar if they are close enough to the Huragok Vergil, similar to Halo: Reach where Huragok provide the Sangheili extra shielding aside from their own energy shield. The Rookie and his squadmates are not able to dual-wield weapons, such as the M7/Caseless Submachine Gun and the Type-25 Directed Energy Rifle. They also cannot use the deployable equipment featured in Halo 3.
On the other hand, the player receives a helmet-integrated data management system known as the Visual Intelligence System, Reconnaissance (or VISR), which includes a low-light vision mode which identifies allies and enemies through the HUD on his helmet's visor by illuminating and classifying objects; green outline for allies, red outline for enemies, blue for scavengable weapons, vehicles, ammo and grenades, and a thick yellow outline for important objects. Outlines of scenery and objects that will block weapons-fire have a thinner yellow outline. The VISR can also be used to manage waypoints, mission objectives, and information which will help the player. The squad has two new weapons, the M7S Submachine Gun and the M6C/SOCOM, which the protagonist and most of his comrades land with in Mombasa during the initial drop. Also, the grenade limit has been increased to 3 per grenade type.
Each playable character has their own default loadout which cannot be progressed through different level, with exception of the Rookie. For their default loadout, the Rookie has an M7S SMG and a magnum, Buck has an assault rifle and a magnum, Romeo has a sniper rifle and a magnum, Mickey has a rocket launcher and an M7S SMG, and Dutch has a Spartan laser and an M7S SMG.
As stated by Bungie in the January 23 Weekly Update, the Sangheili do not appear as enemies in ODST. Although, several groups of Sangheili corpses are found throughout the campaign, apparently killed by Brutes. By December 2008, the game was "representational", meaning that players could experience the game from start to finish, albeit in an unfinished state. The entire Bungie staff was pulled from other duties to play through the game and offer feedback. Among the unfinished elements was the lack of finished dialogue delivered by voice actors; storywriter Joseph Staten filled in placeholder audio. Bungie's audio director Martin O'Donnell contributes music for ODST, as he has done for the previous Halo games. Due to ODST's shift to a new protagonist, O'Donnell created new music that was a homage to Halo, though was taken in a new direction.
Firefight, a brand new feature to the Halo franchise announced at E3 2009, is a cooperative campaign gameplay mode. Four players over Xbox LIVE or System Link play to complete a series of Human vs. Covenant matches. All features from the Campaign Scoring, as well as skulls, achievements, and leaderboards of Halo 3, are featured in ODST.
Due to a technical issue, Firefight is relegated to an invite-only game, as opposed to a matchmaking system used by previous installments in the series. Fans who have spoken to Bungie employees on this matter have allegedly stated that the matchmaking function would have taken an additional six months to create for ODST. Firefight mode returned in Halo: Reach, and Bungie have specifically confirmed that Reach's Firefight mode will feature matchmaking.
All map packs (Heroic, Legendary, Mythic as well as Cold Storage) are available for those who haven't already purchased them over Xbox LIVE Marketplace. In addition to the other map packs, an additional map pack is featured in the ODST package. These maps are Citadel, Heretic, and Longshore.
While previously confirmed to only feature a Campaign element as the only gameplay mode, the second disc in the ODST box, Halo 3: Mythic, contains all of the maps, which you can play directly from there, without having to download the maps to your Hard Drive and starting Halo 3.
Marketing promotions and release
On May 29, 2008, a viral campaign for Halo 3: ODST started which focused around the AI of the same name, New Mombasa's janitorial second generation dumb-A.I. construct that aids The Rookie and his squad in surviving the Covenant occupation of New Mombasa.
Halo 3: ODST Pre-mission Evaluation
On September 4, 2009, a website was released on Xbox.com, letting fans watch interviews of the main characters of ODST. These videos go into the background of each character, with Buck and various teammates talking about their past, military career, their education, and about the mission ahead. Clips directed by Rupert Sanders can be seen via a marker the Marines place on their right temple.
First, different screens of areas of New and Old Mombasa come on screen, followed by HEV pods entering the atmosphere. Here you can see the Prophet of Regret's carrier on the right, and then it moves behind buildings. The pods come into view as a large explosion (Caused by the Prophet of Regret's carrier entering slipspace) appears, sending the pods off-course. Then, the Superintendent appears, and shows warning signs and then reboots. All the screens from earlier flash onto the screen, but heavily damaged from the blast. Then, a single HEV pod falls through the sky, when the Halo 3 Logo appears. The pod then crashes into the camera and goes black, followed by the words 'Prepare to Drop'.
The second part to the trailer, released on the 8th of October, followed on from this - the Superintendent reinitialized itself, attempting to assess the catastrophic devastation and tries to identify the object that survived. Later, after a Covenant Phantom dropship has passed by, the object opens to reveal a lone surviving Marine Shock Trooper to clamber out, wielding a modified M7S Caseless Submachine Gun. The Marine narrowly avoids a Jiralhanae patrol, before encountering messages from the Superintendent, presumably leading him to safety.
Elements from this trailer have dramatically altered from announcement to the present day.
E3 2009 Gameplay
Shown to the press at Microsoft's E3 '09 Media Briefing, the first gameplay trailer showcased the events surrounding the campaign and the new Firefight mode. It focuses mostly on the Rookie wandering around the streets of the city and looking for his lost squadmates, along with Dutch who fights during the Battle of ONI Alpha Site.
This trailer also shows the very first glimpse of Firefight, the brand new cooperative game mode designed specifically for ODST.
ViDoc: Desperate Measures
The first ViDoc of Halo 3: ODST, Desperate Measures takes a look inside the squad that consists of the main characters in the game. It summarizes the skills that each Marine has, along with what equipment they'll be using in-game.
Also shown are little clips of the flashback missions, namely, featuring Gunnery Sergeant Buck and Lance Corporal Agu on a landing platform at NMPD headquarters, where a police Pelican dropship was extracting the two Marines, before getting chased off by two Banshees.
ViDoc: Bip. Bap. Bam.
The second "ViDoc", which is more of an advertisement, for ODST, first shown at the 2009 Games Convention in Cologne, Germany. Bip. Bap. Bam. shows off the new Firefight mode, which was announced earlier at E3 2009.
Avery Johnson is the narrator of the ViDoc, making a stylish entrance in a Drop Pod over the Security Zone map. During the video, Johnson explains the details of this new gametype in ODST, along with explaining how players can play as him by pre-ordering Halo 3: ODST at a number of participating retailers.
ViDoc: Terra Incognita
The third ViDoc for ODST released on Bungie's website, focuses on the development of Halo 3: ODST.
The game developers at Bungie were entering unfamiliar territory, making the largest environment they ever created as the freely-explorable level of New Mombasa. It also says the differences and similarities of the ODSTs and the SPARTAN-II soldiers, such as jumping height and the fact that no motion tracker is present in ODST.
ViDoc: Dramatis Personae
The fourth ViDoc for ODST released on Bungie's website, focuses on the cast of the characters featured in ODST.
Originally intended as an 'Extra' for people who played through the game, the ViDoc was posted on the Bungie website and on the Xbox Live Marketplace. It introduces the viewer to the cast behind ODST and Sadie's Story and explains how the voice actors helped to bring life to their characters in the game.
We Are ODST
A 2-minute live-action short made exclusively for the launch of Halo 3: ODST was released on September 7, 2009 on Spike TV with a run-time of 2 minutes and 30 seconds. This short is directed by Rupert Sanders, who previously directed the Halo 3: Believe series.
To promote the release of the game, Bungie and Microsoft started an "ODST Tour", showcasing the game's Firefight mode to fans all across the United States. Beginning August 22 in Redmond, Washington, this tour lasted for nearly a month, coinciding with the release of the game.
Merchandise and promotions
Additionally, a Halo 3: ODST Collector's Pack was made available alongside the standard version. This includes the game itself, along with a limited edition UNSC-style Xbox 360 controller. The Collector's Pack was available in most stores across the world.
Like previous games in the series, Halo 3: ODST was released alongside an Original Soundtrack comprised of music heard in the game. This soundtrack features seventeen new tracks, composed by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori, on two discs. Though over three hours of music was composed for ODST, only two hours were released on the soundtrack. Upon release, the soundtrack received near-unanimous praise from critics, and won the Spike Video Game Award for "Best Original Score".
On April 9, 2013, Halo 3: ODST was added to the Xbox LIVE Marketplace in the form of Halo 3: ODST Campaign Edition. This version of the game does not include the Halo 3 multiplayer content found on the second disk of the original retail version; it includes only the Halo 3: ODST campaign and Firefight found on the first disk. The Campaign Edition sells for less than half the cost of other on-demand Halo games.
On release, ODST became the top-selling Xbox 360 game worldwide. The title received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the atmosphere, music, and story approach. Critics were divided on whether the relatively short campaign and included extras were enough to justify the full-game price tag.
IGN noted that playing on co-op during the campaign ruined the atmosphere of the game, and that the campaign went into "simple shooting galleries" too often. However, they praised the Firefight addition. Gamepro called it the "best Halo game yet", but mentioned that if the flashbacks were played in a random order, the story did not transition as smoothly. They also stated that the marine A.I. had "major issues" in the game.
Team Xbox stated that it was the "same game at heart, and Firefight mode is an enhanced version of a game type that others have done before." Others mentioned that other games, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Gears of War, had much better graphics than ODST, which was based on the older Halo 3 engine.