Today, I decided to drive the hour from my house to sunny Pasadena, CA to catch a glimpse of ODST’s new firefight mode.
So, firstly was it worth it? I arrived an hour before the event started at 11 a.m. Unfortunately for me, the truck was parked on the asphalt parking lot on a beautiful 102 ºF day and I didn’t pack any water.
I ended up entering the truck at around 12:30 where it wasn’t air conditioned, but it was in the shade and a lot cooler than outside.
Now what everyone cares about, the gameplay. For the demo, the firefight mode was slightly modified from what will end up being the final product. Instead of a player pool of 7 total lives, they decided to make lives infinite and have a timer of 10:00 minutes. The control setups are the same as offered in Halo 3 (default, bumper jumper, boxer, etc.) with the only change being to the equipment button. Since ODSTs can’t use equipment, Bungie decided to make the equipment button activate the VISR mode. Now, I don’t want to cover what has already been released from Bungie, so if you don’t know what the VISR mode is I would recommend watching the ODST Vid Doc’s that have been released.
My specific session was on the level Alpha Base which is centered inside the ONI building in New Mombasa. There were two platforms outside on which Phantoms drop the waves of Covenant troops. Teamwork is going to be key in firefight, and so will strategy. The other players in my group were getting killed left and right. In our 10 minute session on Heroic, there were 2 hunters and 3 brute chieftains spawned along with countless grunts, jackals, engineers, and brutes.
Bungie has said before, ODSTs aren’t as strong as Master Chief was. You can’t jump as high or absorb nearly the same amount of damage. Like in all the other Halo games, the SMG shoots bullets that seem to be made out of candy. It was kind of annoying to unload a whole clip on a brute and not even see his armor fall off. Then a teammate would run in and put 2 pistol shots on him and steal your kill. But at least in ODST, when your kill gets stolen an assist medal pops up to make you feel a little better about yourself. So then I started running around with the pistol. Personally I found it much more satisfying and fun to run around and headshot grunts and jackals with the pistol than the BR.
One thing new from Halo 3 is the amount of grenades an ODST can carry. Like in Halo CE, you can carry up to 4 of each kind of grenade. Another game play addition that has not been talked about is the flying death cam. Upon a death, you can now press the ‘Y’ button like you do in theatre and your death cam becomes a flying cam that you can fly around the map and see what is going on in your 8 second respawn.
Scoring works almost exactly the same as Campaign scoring in Halo 3 but there are bonuses for multi-kills and killing sprees. If you finished first in your group on this tour, you got the choice of taking home a license plate frame with the phrase “my other car is a warthog” or a collectible action figure set from MacFarlane toys. I finished second in my group of 4 by about 200 points. Everyone ends up taking away a promotional card with the ODST squad on the front and the default button layout on the back. For those thinking about going to future stops on the ODST tour, I would arrive early. Be prepared for a long wait, but the time you actually get to play the game is well worth it.