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The year is 2552.
Halo 3: ODST is an expansion of Halo 3. Chronologically ODST is concurrent with certain events of Halo 2. During that game, the Covenant had started a full invasion of Earth and occupied the city of New Mombasa. You take on the role of a rookie Orbital Drop Shock Trooper who is trapped behind enemy lines during a drop and it plays out as a Gaiden Game story.
The gameplay is largely a throwback to Halo: Combat Evolved with the less effective recharging shield, the need of health packs, the ability to only use one weapon at a time and as a result the use of a pistol that is actually useful in its own way (Halo 2 and 3 were criticized in that regard). While gaining good reviews, some players have criticized a relatively short campaign.
The game also included a second disc that was comprised of the Halo 3 multi-player (no campaign) with all of the downloadable maps (including 3 that wouldn't be available otherwise for half a year after ODST's release). In addition, it featured a new multi-player mode called Firefight where you battled endless waves of Covenant coming after you.
Troopers! We are green, and very, very mean!
- All There in the Manual: Everyone who has played Halo 2 and Halo 3 already knows why the Covenant attacked New Mombassa and what they are looking for, but the cast is kept in the dark the entire game.
- Alternate Ending: Not quite the ending, but a near-end cinematic will change a situation if you get all the Audio Files and make the Rookie more aware of what is going on than anyone else.
- This, in fact, changes the cinematic when you meet Virgil. Instead of Dare telling you not to shoot it, you are the one that makes her not shoot the engineer, and, basically telling him it's safe to come down.
- Anachronic Order: The game starts with the squad dropping from orbit and the Rookie getting separated from everyone else. As he chases after them, he finds bits of discarded equipment which trigger playable Flashbacks to his squadmates' adventures. It isn't until late in the game that everyone links back up.
- Apocalyptic Log: The audio files scattered about the game, when put together, form something akin to a Radio Drama that describes the fall of New Mombasa from the point of view of one of the civilians in the conflict zone. It was written and developed by the same studio that Bungie employed to create I Love Bees, and is something of a side story to a side story.
- Artificial Brilliance: You know the cop in the sub levels that fights alongside you, and attempts to betray you, being a Dirty Cop? Well, it turns out that this cop is one badass AI. I mean, he's been reported to actually Halo-jump out of the way of oncoming melee attacks, and is stated by prolific Let's Play maker S So PHKC to be "the greatest cop who ever lived."
- As the Good Book Says...: Dutch is known to throw this out on occasion. See "Religious Bruiser" for a few quotes.
- Badass Normal: All of the ODST characters in the game are distinctly less powerful than Master Chief or any Spartan, but they prove to be resourceful in their own right. Buck jumping on a Brute Chieftan's back and stabbing him in the neck repeatedly comes to mind.
- Casanova: Romeo claims to be one, hence his moniker. Given his disposition, it seems like he might play to the All Girls Want Bad Boys appeal.
- Critical Annoyance: If you take damage, your player character will grant you the pleasure of obnoxiously grunting and panting while their stamina regenerates. If their underlying health bar takes a hit, you'll be granted the further pleasure of a constant beeping sound until you find a health pack.
- Disproportionate Retribution: When Sadie and her police friend get to the NMPD building, they meet an ex-cop who, seeing as everyone is going to hell soon enough, has decided to send a few of his "Old buddies" on their way himself
Marshal: Remember how many times I asked you not to use my half-and-half? And remember how many times you... didn't listen?
- Dynamic Loading: The Halo engine has always had this in the "fixed path" variation, but this title plays with it a lot more in the New Mombasa Streets that the Rookie explores. Downtown New Mombasa is divided up into several hexagonal blocks by walls (justified in-universe as being mandatory safety measures to minimize damage in case there is a serious accident on the space elevator) with doors closing off the joining streets to stall the Covenant. The Rookie can trigger a manual override of each door, opening it to let himself through. This is intended to slow the player down enough to let the next section of the city load into memory.
- Expy: The leader of your squad, Gunnery Sergeant Buck, is voiced by (and looks like) Nathan Fillion, and has been described as basically Mal Reynolds as a space marine. (Not that this is a bad thing)
- Film Noir: A huge source of inspiration for the game, as stated by Bungie. The influence can be felt in the game in the way the Rookie interacts with the world by seeking out little clues to give him a picture of what happened when trying to locate his squad, the sense of wandering alone through a rainy city at night, and the lonely saxophone solos in the music.
- Fire-Forged Friends: The entire ODST squad counts, but most especially the Rookie, Buck, and Dare.
- Follow the Leader: The "Firefight" mode is the Halo version of the Gears of War "Horde" mode, which many other shooter games have adopted.
- Foreshadowing / Trailers Always Spoil: Bungie got clever with this. First, watch the "Desperate Measures" video, paying close attention to the audio starting at around the 2:20 mark. Then, once that's done, go play the final campaign level, "Coastal Highway". And here you thought Buck's line in the video was just hyperbole, didn't you?
- The Greatest Story Never Told
- Ink Suit Actor: Both Nathan Fillion and Tricia Helfer's respective characters of Buck and Dare are modeled after their likenesses.
- It's Raining Men: As expected for Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. The player is treated to a first-person depiction of an ODST drop operation in the game's opening.
- Jerkass: Romeo is a mild example. Described by Joe Staten as "a bit of a dick", his profile states that he has had some discipline infractions that, in less desperate times, could have gotten him discharged. But given the state of the war, his skills are too valuable to simply let go.
- Late to the Party: The Rookie spends most of the game playing catch-up.
- Lower Deck Episode: The game is a more personal story of a squad of Elite Red Shirts deployed for a single mission that spans less than half a day of narrative time, in contrast to the series usual stories of a Super Soldier who alter the course of the war, fights an Eldritch Abomination, and prevents genocide on a galactic scale.
- Religious Bruiser: Dutch.
Dutch: (after doing a jump in a Warthog/Ghost and crashing) Uh, Lord? I didn't train to be a pilot. Tell me I don't have any more flying to do today. (Longsword crashes) So, was that a yes or a no? (Warthog/Ghost explodes) Amen.
- Remember the New Guy?: The game introduces a new Covenant enemy, the Engineers, also known as the Huragok in the Covenant language. Supposedly Bungie had been trying to work them into the gameplay since the first Halo game, but didn't manage to do so until now. The fact that this game has engineers and you don't see them anywhere in Halo 3 just seems odd. Halo: Reach has adopted them as well, which makes it both better (so that they appear elsewhere) and worse (where are they in between?).
- This is certainly true for the games themselves, though the Engineers have always had a presence in the Halo Extended Universe. It just took Bungie a while before they could figure out a way to incorporate what is essentially a non-combatant Covenant race into the combat-heavy First-Person Shooter series in a meaningful way.
- Consider: the primary role of the Brutes in the Covenant military hierarchy is to act as an occupation force, since their pack behavior and brutality makes them effective at suppressing local populations. Huragok/Engineers are basically Forerunner constructs appropriated by the Covenant leadership. Maybe they're simply considered too valuable to send to any area that isn't already under direct Covenant control. In Reach, you encounter one Engineer aboard a Covenant Corvette, where you'd EXPECT to find one; the only others you encounter are in New Alexandria, while it's being occupied by the Brutes. Might count as Fridge Brilliance in this game if you realize we only start seeing Engineers in the franchise as a whole when we witness a Brute occupation.
- Retcon: The game radically alters the look and layout of New Mombasa from the way it was shown in Halo 2. The space elevator is now on its own man-made island instead of in the city center, the buildings of downtown are more futuristic and imposing, and the massive suspension bridge that Master Chief crossed in Halo 2 is nowhere to be seen.
- Some of it could be explained that the section Master Chief was in for Halo 2 was obliterated when the Covenant ship activated it's FTL drive, which is the catalyst for the Rookie going off course at the beginning of the game. You are playing in a completely different area of the city.
- Rule of Symbolism: Parts of the game are symbolic of Dante's Divine Comedy. Two of the biggies:
- Virgil: named after Dante's companion, he is the Rookie's guide for most of the game, as well as telling you the story of what happened when you where asleep in your pod.
- If you collect all of the Audio Files, you can see they are organized into "Circles" and refer to the sins from the Inferno.More details here.
- Sergeant Rock: Buck is a near-textbook example of the archetype. He has served in the ODSTs for a long time with a proven success record. The game even says, "if he were any better, he'd be a Spartan."
- Shoot the Medic First: Engineers give its allies overshields. The shields dissipate when the Engineer is killed, so it is in your best interest to aim for them first, making the rest a bit easier. There are achievements both for doing this and not doing it in the hub level.
- The game shares some themes with Pathways into Darkness
- You're a soldier who gets knocked out on his drop and wakes up hours later, presumed dead by your squad. You must discover what happened via interacting with inanimate objects and dead bodies to find out what happened to your squad. Your mission involves an extremely powerful being who is manipulating events above while dealing with hostile non-humans. This is a description of both.
- In some buildings there are simplified Thoth logos on the walls.
- The Engineers are presented in this game the same way as the S'pht in Marathon
- Virgil; He is your only companion (as The Rookie) for most of the game, he guide you and tell you the story of what happened when you where asleep in your pod, this is very similar to other character named Virgil
- Dare seems to be a reference to the Biblical pebble.
- The game shares some themes with Pathways into Darkness
- Space Trucker: Mentioned in Dutch's background. He drove cargo trucks on Mars in order to put himself through college, where he majored in religion and philosophy.
- Supporting Protagonist: The Rookie. His story comprises the Myth Arc of the game but he doesn't do much to help the mission until the end, being knocked out and all. It's more the story of the other ODSTs, especially Buck and Dare.
- Unique Enemy: The NMPD officer in Data Hive.
Bam, said the lady.