It’s no doubt that the Halo franchise has revolutionized shooters on consoles forever. One of the best matchmaking systems which are still matching up millions of players each and every day years since Halo: Combat Evolved launched. I played Halo 2 and 3 to death. Midnight launches, 5am sessions, I did it all.
Not only the multiplayer but the single player kept me coming back for more, finding out what else could happen in this generic but compelling sci-fi story has made the Halo series one of my all time favorites. So why is it that when Halo: ODST was demoed at Microsoft’s E3 press conference I was left underwhelmed and utterly disappointed.
When the demo first booted up I was immediately interested by the hands of our new avatar the ‘’Rook” and how human the character seemed, if only for a few seconds. Never in a Halo game have I felt like I was the character, only a camera watching this epic story unveil in front of me. A big epic scripted event, ODST’s jumping into New Mombasa and this story branch seemed like one that was worth playing through. The rookie working his way through new Mombasa still carried that good ol Halo feel. Run, group of enemies, kill them, and move on. With the evolution of the FPS through Call Of Duty, Killzone, Battlefield, ect it’s hard to find interesting iterations on this now standard formula. Apparent that Bungie has tried to combat this with a ‘’unique story telling experience” which involves he player switching between stories of ODST’s who have either died or left the area through clues left around the destroyed city.
It’s from here that I began to lose faith in this dying horse of ‘story telling options’. Going back to see what actually happened to these fallen soldiers is a great concept on paper. Actually carrying out this particular ODST’s final moments definitely wasn’t the most compelling gameplay I’ve seen. Hit the switches and detonator as been played out so much that I would think that Bungie wouldn’t touch these tried game mechanics with a 10ft pole. It seems they did. The voice acting was unbearable in some sections; there was no sense of urgency in the voices of (what sounded like) 2 voice actors that seem to have worked on this scene.
“You wanna do this? Be my guest”
As this conversation takes place a few hundred meters away from huge covenant tanks hurling masses of plasma across the bridge at them you would think that these soldiers would have even a bit of urgency in their voices and actions. It’s bizarre that an experienced studio like Bungie who is so vigilant about music and audio could let these terrible scripts, or at least the way they were delivered pass through. It would have made more sense for ‘’Butch” to fall over, take his helmet off, wink at the camera and continue on his merry way of arming the bridge with explosives.
Of course this is only a demo of the full game so there is still obvious room for improvement and we haven’t seen everything. No doubt we can expect some epic scale battles, against the covenant as that made the other Halo games so thrilling to be part of, even at 5 in the morning. So here’s hoping that Bungie didn’t go out guns blazing at E3 and still have a few aces up their sleeve. No doubt they do.