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E3 2009: Halo 3:ODST Hands on

Posted by: Chuck at 6/2/2009 9:56 AM
Last night I had the chance to sit down and play through one of the two Fire Fight levels from Halo ODST that Microsoft is showing off at E3.  Bungie isn't releasing the final number of these maps but mentioned that there will be at least one from each level of the game (no they didn't tell me how many levels are going to be in the final game).

The Fire Fight mode is going to remind a lot of people of the horde mode from Gears of War 2.  Both modes have four players killing continuously spawns enemies within a set level but that's where the similarities end.  The fire fight mode is different in that you respawn when you die and each round has a set number of re-spawns for the entire group before the round ends.  You also can't bring back mortally wounded comrades as death is fairly quick in Fire Fight.

The goals are different as well as you're playing for kills in Fire Fight, this means you'll help your friends out to save them from dying but you're going to do so for different reasons.  The game uses the same great control scheme that was perfected in Halo 3 with one addition.  Pressing the X button activates the VISR mode which allows you to see in the dark.   It also outlines all of the enemies in red, ammo in blue, and your fellow troopers in green which is helpful in some of the darker environments.

The enemies have the same great AI that the single player campaign does.  Enemies are delivered via drop ship (which you can't shoot down as it ruins the game play mode and wastes ammo....they can kill you though which I learned rather quickly) and have the same group configuration we've seen in previous games (one leader, grunts, and other members of the covenant).  Take out the leader and the grunts will scatter making them easier to kill.  I also quickly learned that they will start to focus on the greatest threat to them first so if one player starts to dominate the map the Covenant are going to focus on taking him down first.  This provides a nice game balance in case you get stuck with l33tGuy95 in an Xbox Live match.

Normally I'm not a fan of Halo multiplayer because I'm not the best shot and the game experience is usually ruined by children releasing their pre-pubescent frustrations online.  This mode should eliminate most of that as you are working together for the most part.  Sure there will be griping about stealing kills but I quickly fell in love with the new game mode as it balanced the strong controls and near perfect Halo shooting engine with a game play mode that forces people to work together.  Much like the Horde mode it doesn't sound that impressive until you play through it a few times and that's when the game sucks you in.  Halo fans are going to eat this up and it's also going to bring in the fringe players like myself who are a little gun shy about playing the game online.