So what else? Well, we know what ODST isn’t. It’s not a tactical shooter like Ghost Recon, or a stealth game. In spite of early speculation, Bungie’s hiring of former Ghost Recon creative director Christian Allen isn’t relevant – Allen isn’t working on the title, but on a secret project. At TGS, Bungie’s Luke Smith explained how the soldier wearing the unusual custom ODST armor is a lone soldier in an occupied city, and that it would absolutely play like old times, discounting the possibility of any Rainbow Six-style squad mechanics. That said, Smith also explained on the NeoGAF forums that playing as an ODST would differ from playing as a Spartan, likely on account of the human’s smaller stature and greater vulnerability.
While Master Chief stands a whopping seven feet tall and can easily handle an Elite one-on-one, regular humans tend to get mauled by Covenant opposition. As tough as the ODSTs are, they’re not typically equipped with Mjolnir armor with Covenant-style regenerating shields, but it’s so critical to the combat mechanic that the custom armour worn by ODST's hero will incorporate a similar shield system. Guiding him along the way will be the Superintendent – an AI responsible for the day-to-day running of the city. When Brutes investigate the area where our new hero’s drop pod landed, the Superintendent activates and deactivates lights to shroud the ODST in shadow and illuminate Brutes, before offering guidance to the trooper on the screens still left standing in the city’s ruins. While the Superintendent can’t talk, it does have its own agenda, and how closely that tallies with your mission isn’t confirmed.
Among the least welcome of Bungie’s confirmations about the game came the announcement that ODST would be what they’re calling an ‘exclamation point’ for the legendary series. It is absolutely and finally the last Halo product with which Bungie themselves will be involved, and is being built by a team of ‘elders’ who have been working on the series since the beginning. All future Halo games will come straight from Microsoft Games Studios’ new Halo team, or farmed out to third parties, which makes Halo 3 ODST the very last hurrah for Bungie’s part in the Haloverse ever ever... at least until catastrophe befalls their next game and it sells under 100k, obviously.
It may ultimately turn out to be little more than an expansion pack, but with new characters, new weapons, new environments, and a whole new campaign, it’s a hefty expansion, and you can guarantee that after the epic Halo 3 rollout, Microsoft will be pushing it as the biggest single event on Earth since the birth of the baby Jesus himself.
Dec 3, 2008