Update: We've been grabbing direct-feed footage all morning. Take a look at our Halo: ODST videos.
Halo 3: ODST is epic. Don't be fooled by people saying it's only an expansion. Yes, it has the shortest campaign of any Halo game, but it's marginal. Every second is pure, Halo-flavoured glory and every Halo fan should have ODST in their lives.
It's been billed as a Halo game with a difference and that, for some reason, has people suspicious that it's not the game they want it to be. On multiple occasions we've had people ask us what it's like, worried that it's all stealth and no action, or that the ending rolls around after just two hours. It carries the unfortunate stigma that it's 'just an expansion'.
Let's get this straight. ODST is a Halo game, through and through. A full-fat, mentally loud, slap-in-the-face epic Halo game with all the jump, grenade, melee action that comes with the series. We did it in around seven hours on Heroic, which was more than just a satisfying ride. Time restraints stopped us exploring as much as we would have naturally, and there's always re-playability opportunities with Legendary mode and of course co-op.
It's not radically different but it's not just more of the same. The key difference is the main structure of the game. Instead of playing one separate mission after another, you're thrown into an open-world city, Mombasa. You've seen the trailer below, right? That's you, the Rookie, crashing down to earth as your platoon is blasted by the explosion of a covenant ship making a sub-space jump.
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You slam into the ground and are knocked unconscious. Six hours later you awaken alone in this dark, sprawling and eerily deserted Mombasa with no idea what's happened to your squad. Finding out is your over-arching mission of the game.
You start off wandering aimlessly. It's not like any previous Halo game - it's quiet. The background music is calm and slightly solemn. Squads of Covenant, who now control the city, patrol the streets and it's up to you to avoid or confront them.
Sometimes you're cornered and have no choice, but that's part of the new strategic element of ODST. You can use the streets to escape or to gain an advantage in battle. You can enter buildings, go up high and attack from above, dart off down back alleys and re-emerge elsewhere to surprise the enemy.
It's not long before you encounter a ringing telephone through which you link up with the Superintendant - a city-wide AI usually in charge of controlling traffic lights. It saw what happened in the past few hours and gives you a waypoint marker to the location of an artefact significant to unravelling the mystery.
Finding this artefact triggers a flashback of the events that occurred in that area, at which point you play as the ODST involved in what you could call a more conventional linear mission. Finish that mission and you're returned to the eyes of the Rookie to head back into Mombasa to locate another artefact.
This new structure forms a fantastic balance of traditional, explosive, linear Halo and a new type of Halo in the quieter Mombasa, where you have the freedom to roam, looking out for enemy platoons and sometimes working to avoid them when their numbers are overwhelming.