Excellent Story and Mood Change for Halo
Having been a late comer to this and playing all of the other games in the Halo universe, I have to say that this one took me a bit by surprise. While initially intended to be an expansion for Halo 3 Bungie managed to create a wholly unique game that changes the mood, pacing and atmosphere for all of the other games in the series. It is a good thing too because the tried and true formula of charging through the world as Master Chief, while fun did grow a bit boring.
Instead of playing as a Spartan you are playing as an ODST or a standard human. Bungie tried to make this play a little differently than your standard Halo fair since as a human you are supposed to be weaker than a Spartan. They only pulled this off to a partial extent. While you do in deed take less damage than the chief, you can still take a fairly decent beating before going down. What Bungie did with the level structure though was more impressive by encouraging the player to try to sneak through the world rather then rage through it. I very often found myself sneaking in the shadows past enemies in the over world to get to my next objective. It is clever and for the most part works well to solidify the isolation and desolation of New Mombasa.
Speaking of the over world, ODST takes a different story telling approach, throwing our hero into a largely deserted city to try and piece together the previous day's events of his/her's team. It works. It also allowed Bungie to bring an entirely different mood to the game, focusing on a slower pacing. It all came together quite nicely with an almost noir atmosphere coupled with jazz music. Yes, jazz music. It works so well and is set in such a desolate backdrop I was immediately pulled in.
Weapons were equally fund in this game. While the standard big guns where there, Bungie did a nice little tweak on the smg and the pistol, silencing them to add to the more subdued and stealthy goal of the game. In the end I found myself liking my ODST character more than I did the Chief because I felt like a specialist, a precision needle rather than a broad sword.
Overall this is an excellent game that adds to the overall Halo universe and actually looks to take place just before Halo 3 in the storyline. Pick it up if only for the change in mood and pacing.