Tag Archive: odst

The Holiday Rush

Originally Published: December 21, 2009, on Lundberg.me and 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

I did this last year where I offered some last minute advice to help out people looking to pick up a couple of more items to stuff in the stockings or under the tree and due to positive feedback, we’re doing it one more time!

Now, if you’re looking for games for some little ones and don’t feel they’re ready for an over the top, alien shoot ’em up, or some action-adventure, sword wielding bloodbath, then here are a few E-rated games that will keep them happy till their birthday rolls around.

1. New Super Mario Bros. Wii – Nintendo Wii – Any older gamer will appreciate the nostalgia this game conjures up. Any young gamer will fall in love with the crazy characters, classic side-scrolling platforming gameplay, and the hours of exploration and fun it will provide. Just like every other great Mario Bros. game to ever come out. This Wii game has been flying off of store shelves this holiday season with good reason.

2. The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks – Nintendo DS –Another one of Nintendo’s powerhouse franchises with a new chapter in its long and storied history. What’s nice about this is that the kids can take this with them on the long car or plane ride you’re already dreading. At least it’ll keep the kids out of your hair as you prepare for departure delays or traffic due to the predicted bad weather. Not the longest or most in-depth in the Zelda series, it will more than do the job of distracting the little ones this holiday season.

3. A Boy and His Blob – Nintendo Wii – Rounding out the Nintendo dominance of kid-oriented games is a remake of a NES classic. A Boy and His Blob follows a young lad and his alien, shape-shifitng friend, who can help the boy in a plethora of ways by eating magical jellybeans. These jellybeans allow the blob to turn into a gun, a ladder, a trampoline, and many other useful items as you travel across these beautifully drawn 2.5 D worlds.

“But, Ray! My kid is in high school and I don’t think these childish games will work for him/her.” Never fear! There is plenty of T-rated games just waiting to be picked up.

1. Ghostbusters: The Video Game – All systems – The closest thing die-hards have seen to a third movie, this game picks up about three years after the end of the second movie and brings the story together better than any movie could have. With all the original voice cast returning to reprise their iconic 80s roles, ‘bustin’ has never felt so good.

2. Batman: Arkham Asylum – XBOX360, PS3 – One of the most critically acclaimed games of the year, Batman: Arkham Asylum is the initial offering of what looks to be a long series of new Batman games. With a free-flow combat system that flows like water and a plot worthy of a comic maxi-series, this game is a must have for any comic book fan.

3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – PS3 – The SpikeTV Video Game Awards game of the year delivers on every front like no other game this year. Plot depth, tremendous characters that pull on your heart strings, probably the best looking game of the year, and flawless gameplay makes this a must have for any gamer’s collection if you have a PS3.

Now you’re wondering, “What about the games for Mommy and Daddy?” Well, there are plenty of M-rated games out there for long after the kiddies go to bed.

1. Madworld – Wii – It’s rare to see a phenomenal M-rated game on the Wii, but Sega’s Madworld delievers in ways I never thought a Wii game could. An unfathomable amount of gore and language brightens up the black and white world of “Jack”, a man tasked with winning a “Running Man”-esque game of death in a world that just screams “Sin City”. Either interacting with the entire environment to find new and interesting ways to kill your enemies, or just relying on the chainsaw on your right hand, you will have fun wreaking havoc in Madworld.

2. Assassin’s Creed 2 – XBOX360, PS3 – My pick for game of the year, Assassin’s Creed 2 expounds on the plot of the first game and trumps the action by leaps and bounds. A new free-flow combat system, being able to wield two weapons at once, poison, guns, and an entire economic system make what was once a repetitive, tedious chore to beat in AC1, makes AC2 one of the most unique mainstream gaming experiences of the year.

3. Halo 3: ODST – XBOX360 – My choice for first-person shooter of the year, any Halo fan needs to have this game. Aside from the amped up difficulty due to you acting as a lower class of trooper than Master Chief’s Spartan self, the film noir aspect of taking over every member of your squad at different moments as you unravel the mystery of the Covenant’s attack is one of the most immersive plot techniques I’ve seen in gaming in years.

Those are the games that will make everyone you know, no matter their age, happy. On this last list, are the games that leave everyone cringing and they will be returned. Guaranteed. Avoid these games at all costs Grandma!

1. Fairytale Fights – XBOX 360, PS3, PC – A nice concept that falls flat on its face. Living through some classic fairytale character’s stories with some bloody hack-‘n’-slash combat is a nice thought, but horrible gameplay, a poorly kept-together plot, and nothing really special about using these fabled characters from fairytale lore aside from the random weapons they find was really a disappointment.

2. TMNT: Smash-Up – Nintendo Wii – It uses the same engine as Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but it lacks everything else. Only a handful of selectable characters, a miserable story mode, and controls that aren’t nearly as responsive as the Nintendo character counterpart. A bitter disappointment for any TMNT fan and another TMNT media project that doesn’t include the original theme music!

3. The Conduit – Nintendo Wii – This is probably one of the most hyped games of the year and instead should be considered as the worst first-person shooter of the year. Basically a remake of Perfect Dark from N64, but with some more high tech weapons and a looser plot. The graphics look like something from the Gamecube and the multiplayer, although probably one of the better ones for the Wii, is still subpar when compared with the multiplayer offered by games for the XBOX 360 and PS3.

Well folks, there it is. For all you last minute shoppers out there, those are some helpful hints. Thanks for reading my article and have a happy and safe holiday season.

-Ray Carsillo

Separation Anxiety

Originally Published: September 22, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com), Lundberg.me, and Examiner.com

With hundreds of possible stories and battlefronts out there, it wasn’t hard for Bungie to continue to expand the already infamous Halo canon. With that, I give you Halo 3: ODST.

With the exploits of Master Chief well documented in the intergalactic struggle against the Covenant, many people forget that this war is fought on many different fronts and has been ongoing for decades.

One of the newest battlefronts is Earth, the last great human stronghold, and recently discovered by the Covenant. So while Master Chief is on the other side of the universe, the war is still going on and has finally hit home.

This is where the ODSTs come in. Labeled for their preferred form of being dropped into battle from their space cruisers, the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers are the best of the best (aside from Master Chief, of course).

Taking place during the time between Halo 2 and Halo 3, Halo 3: ODST (labeled such due to the game using the Halo 3 engine and the inclusion of the Halo 3 multiplayer as well) follows the story of a squad of ODSTs as they race against the Covenant for an artifact in the city of New Mombasa in the East African province (Kenya in real world terms, I believe).

Your main character is simply know as “The Rookie” as you are introduced to the rest of your squad in the opening cinema before you drop into battle. When you arrive the Covenant assault is well under way. After launching from your cruiser to counterattack, a Covenant drop ship warps in and the ensuing shockwave scatters your squad throughout the region. After waking up about 6 hours after crash landing in New Mombasa, how you view Halo is forever changed.

There is still your typical run and gun first-person shooter mayhem and plenty of opportunities for it, but there is also a tremendous new detective and suspense element added to the game. As the Rookie, you befriend an A.I. program called “The Superintendent”. Simpler than Cortana for you Halo vets, the Superintendent still is critical in your mission as he helps tell you the story of how New Mombasa fell and point you in the right direction as he uses street signs, car alarms, ATMs, and other civic devices it can control to steer your path.

After befriending the Superintendent, you put your detective skills (and some sweet night vision goggles) to use as you search New Mombasa for clues to the whereabouts of your squad mates. As you find more items belonging to your mates, from your Captain’s helmet to your sniper’s rifle, you begin to piece together what happened when you got knocked out, all the while exploring Bungie’s largest sandbox environment to date.

The most exciting new aspect of this game comes when you find each item because you actually get to see through the eyes of your other squad mates to see how the items came to be in the condition they’re in and to see the battle unfold. This ensures that you will play as every member of your squad at some point to experience how it feels to be a sniper, a demolitions expert, a heavy gunner, etc. and to see how the full story of the New Mombasa post-invasion unfolds.

With that said, there is also plenty of your old favorite activities returning like hijacking Covenant Banshee or Ghost ships or hopping onto the turret of a UNSC Warthog. There are also randomly generated fights against the whole spectrum of Covenant foes as well as all your favorite weapons being available again from sticky grenades to swiping a downed foe’s Needler.

I will admit to not being obsessed about the Halo series as much as many other people, but I could not put this game down. It only took me about 10 hours to beat the campaign mode, but the time flew by and I was left wanting more.

The graphics are beyond beautiful and the music helps set up an almost film noir, classic detective story kind of feel that you just don’t see nowadays, especially in a futuristic game like Halo.

There isn’t a lot to bring you back to the campaign aside from the Superintendent audio logs, but the new Firefight mode, similar to the Gears of War Horde mode, with endless waves of enemies as you try to improve your score and the included Halo 3 multiplayer will keep most Halo fans happy for a long time to come.

In the end, my only complaint about this game was that it ended too soon for me. Although 10 hours of gameplay is about the norm for most games nowadays, I just didn’t want it to end. I wish I had 20 ODSTs in my squad and that I was still searching for more of their items. This is a must have for any Halo or first-person shooter fan.

Ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest.

Graphics: 10.0: I don’t know how they could make this game look more gorgeous. The graphics really helped stress the mystery the game was trying to go for and were spectacular.

Audio: 10.0: The music might set the mood even better than the look of post-invasion New Mombasa. When music can help draw emotion from the player, it has succeeded and this soundtrack does that. Add in the typically strong SFX and great voice acting from all those involved and I can’t dock any points for this.

Plot/Plot Development: 10.0: The plot fits in perfectly with the Halo canon and the way the game leads you along through the different areas of New Mombasa as you search for your squad mates and try to unravel the sub-plots of the New Mombasa invasion makes this one of the more engrossing games I’ve played in a while.

Gameplay: 9.0: The game is glitchless. The controls are relatively natural, but I had some difficulty driving several of the vehicles you get to control at separate points throughout the levels and they felt a lot less natural than when you are on foot.

Replay Value: 7.5: Not wanting to take away from the Halo 3 community, ODST doesn’t support its own original multiplayer and the Firefight mode is really just Horde mode from Gears with a Halo twist. Add in a minimum of collectibles for campaign mode and you have to figure that Halo fans will still be thrilled about this, but more casual fans will probably see this as a one and done.

Overall (not an average): 9.5: Minor complaints aside, this is one of the best games I’ve played in recent memory. I’m starting to form my game of the year predictions and this has to be in the conversation. The story was brilliantly done and the peripherals are perfect. I wanted a little more in terms of replay value, but overall this game is top of the line.

Halo 3: ODST is available now for Xbox 360.

-Ray Carsillo

Orbital Drop Shock Troopers!

Originally Published: August 28, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com) and Examiner.com

Back in July I had a chance to get a hands on preview of one of the most anticipated shooters of the year, Halo 3: ODST. It expands on the already epic canon of Microsoft’s staple Halo franchise and looks at an entirely different aspect of the war with the Covenant.

Although labeled Halo 3: ODST, the game actually takes place between Halo 2 and Halo 3 (think Shadows of the Empire for the Star Wars universe). It also deviates from following Halo’s main hero, the Spartan known as Master Chief, and instead follows a group of ODSTs (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers) on the other side of the universe as the events of Halo 2 are unfolding at the same time.

After playing a preview of what looks to be the best game of the series so far in terms of combat, I spoke with Bungie’s Community and PR Director, Brian Jarrard, about the direction the series is taking as well as about the characters we play with in Halo 3: ODST.

Halo 3: ODST Preview with Ray Carsilllo
Video by Jared Bodden

Be sure to stay tuned for my full review of Halo 3: ODST before it comes out on September 22.

-Ray Carsillo