I waited in line for one hour to play this game for 10 minutes.
I don’t know if that was the best use of my time, but it sure was fun! It is basically a more tactical remix of the traditional Halo gameplay. I played Firefight, which is Bungie’s take on the endless multiplayer co-op mode made popular recently by stuff like Horde in Gears of War 2.
But let’s back up. In ODST, you play as an ODST (derp). You are not as badass as a single Spartan, but you can still shoot some dudes with the best of them. ODSTs can’t jump as high, and take fewer hits before going down. You still sort of have a “shield,” though they call it a stamina bar, but one or two shots and it’s gone, and you’re taking damage to your five health boxes. It also didn’t seem to recharge as quickly. Other differences of note: The X button now switches visor modes instead of using equipment. ODSTs also don’t have the technology for dual wielding. They start with a silenced SMG and pistol, both of which felt quite nice, and can apparently be used for stealthy reasons in the campaign.
Speaking of, I didn’t get to check out the campaign, but
Horde Firefight was very dependent on you sticking together and working as a team, which sucked, because no one on my team was talking on the generously provided headsets. Firefight the mode, however, seemed fairly well designed. Bungie’s addition to the normal “kill round of bad guys, gather ammo, repeat” format is Halo 3’s skulls, which are randomly swapped around between rounds. So, for instance, you might have to change your tactics around to deal with enemies who suddenly really enjoy throwing assloads of grenades.
Overall, though, ODST took what I loved about Halo’s combat before – tactical, slow-paced fighting – and built an entire game around that. I greatly look forward to its September release.