ODST brings new life to Halo universe

When it comes to first-person shooter (FPS) games on the consoles, the franchise has definitely been iconic. It’s hard to believe that six years have passed since the original release of this would-be cultural phenomenon on the Xbox.

Now, two years after the last of the series, , was launched, Bungie presents to its loyal fans new concepts from the universe in the form of .

Released on Sept. 22, this FPS game is both refreshing and innovative while carrying the reputation of the franchise without the help of Master Chief.

That’s right, unlike the previous installments, players in the campaign of will not reprise the role of the enhanced superhuman soldier Master Chief.

Instead, the players will be given the opportunity to play as members of the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODST), in what most would consider a side plot that happens during the timelines of the previous games.

The game initially starts off with a horrific accident during a drop-pod mission in space that separates the members of ODST. This sets the scene for The Rookie to search for other scattered squad members through out the crash site.

The story of each trooper is later to be discovered incorporated together through The Rookie’s journey. While The Rookie is “the player,” each individual story is played from the perspective of the squad member who experienced it.

Because of this alteration in perspective, the gameplay changes accordingly to let the players know from the very beginning that they are no longer the almighty Master Chief and that they have to think about their actions more carefully in order to survive.

To further elaborate, players, now acting as troopers, will find themselves unable to jump as high or move as fast as the legend himself.

The melee attacks will not do as much damage, and instead of the Chief’s damage absorbing energy-shield, “stamina,” which functions mechanically identical to the shield, is introduced for the troopers.

Also, players in will have access to new exclusive weapons including a silenced submachine gun and a pistol.

While some players may be disappointed by these changes to the gameplay, the majority will find it to be an interesting new experience accompanied by a refreshing plot connected with the individual side stories.

Although the campaign mode of was never a disappointment, the franchise really became renowned for its multiplayer experience. actually does not offer a fully compatible PVP (player versus player) multiplayer option all on its own.

Instead, the multiplayer disc is included in the packaging as the multiplayer experience for the game. The disc contains the original 11 multiplayer maps as well as four extra map packs and three exclusive ODST maps for a total of 24 playable maps.

The original is not required to play the multiplayer disc as it is usable on its own.

Although the multiplayer has definitely stood the test of time and all the extra maps are nice additional features, it is a major drawback for players who already own the multiplayer disc from the original release of and already paid for the extra maps.

For these old fans, the $60 price tag on suddenly seems much higher since they are paying for what they already own. This, plus a campaign that can be rushed through in three to four hours, could ultimately change the decision to get the game.

In order to compensate for this, the campaign disc includes the introduction of the new Firefight mode.

It is similar to a survival challenge match in which all team members share a pool of lives and waves after waves of enemies appear in an arena setting.

This mode can be played with single player, split-screen local multiplayer or up to four players total over Xbox Live.

With a total of 10 playable maps, Firefight is quite an excellent addition for quick pick-up games without have to immerse oneself in the storyline of the campaign or get caught up in the competitive environment of the multiplayer game mode.

Overall, is very solid game from most perspectives and might just be worth the steep price.

Those who do not already have the multiplayer disc should especially consider buying.

Even with the absence of Master Chief, feels every bit like a Halo game that is able to accommodate players of all skill levels. This goes to show that the franchise is much more than just one super-powered guy wearing a shiny helmet.