I was at E3 this year and got a chance to play Halo 3: ODST’s new coop mode Firefight. In this mode you play one of 4 players that fight increasingly difficult waves of Covenant enemies. Talking with a Microsoft (or maybe it was Bungie) employee, this game mode does not take place on the multiplayer maps (unlike Gears of War 2’s Horde), but instead maps based on the campaign levels. You play as an ODST (not a Spartan or Elite) and spawn with a new scoped SMG (which feels really good) and pistol (more like the one from the original Halo). The HUD is different, with grenades and weapon information in the bottom left and right. Across the top is a horizontal compass with red indicators when taking damage of the direction it’s coming from. Also, medals now pop-up in the middle of the screen, not the left like in Halo 3.
There is a new vision mode which is cool. You press “x” to toggle it. It appears to replace equipment from Halo 3. When the mode is on it highlights points/items of interest (such as a gun laying on the ground) and enemies. It adds a cool glow effect too. Overall, the graphics are exactly like Halo 3, good (lighting) and bad (jaggies).
I played around with the menus before the match loaded and it appears an ODST has some customizable options, like armor and such. The post game lobby is similar to Halo 3 as well, with stats on each player’s performance. By the way, I had the highest score on my team. Woowhoo!
The actual game play was a lot of fun, intense and team oriented. Your team starts with a bucket of lives, once those are gone you lose. I also think it auto-enables various skull modifiers as you play. Waves of enemies are deployed via a Covenant drop ship, so unlike Gears of War 2’s Horde where they just pop on, in ODST they drop from a ship (which will shoot at you!). You’ll fight Hunters, Grunts, Brutes (the whole range including jet packs and cloaked), etc as well as vehicles (I managed to take out a Wraith). During the game there is an announcer saying things like “one life left” and “enemies inbound”. A nice touch to let you know what is going on without looking at your HUD.
I was already sold on buying Halo 3: ODST. But after playing this not only am I confirming my soon-to-be preorder, but I will get two copies so I can play Firefight with my boys on their Xbox.