Hmmm. I have to say that this is actually deeply underwhelming stuff. Whilst not expecting anything revolutionary from what is essentially an expansion pack, I still expected a little more of the old Halo magic and shine that was much more evident in Halo 3. Now Halo 3 is pretty much 18 months old and ODST actually feels like a step back.
Ok, so the initial setup is fairly well done, the orbital drop is nicely handled, but right from the off things go downhill with probably the worst start mission to a game I've played recently. So we're in New Mombasa, quite an exciting sounding place, but what you find is possibly the dullest environment I've played in for a while. No lush jungles here, or stunning vistas to admire - just dark, dismal streets, bland alleyways devoid of anything other than fake looking graffiti everywhere and the obligatory 'futuristic' blob cars littering the shiny roads. At times Halo 3 looked rather pretty, but for the most part was an unexceptional visual experience, and we're exactly the same here. Visually its nothing special at all, texturing is flat and dull, lighting boring. The actual streets themselves just look wrong - it looks like a game world, not a world.
And its so dark! Instead of a torch you get the VISR mode, which certainly lightens things up a notch, but is also the most hideously ugly effect, further sullying an already dull looking environment. Environmental features are outlined with yellow, friendlies in green, enemies in red. Now personally, I don't need a ruddy great red halo around enemies to recognise them as covenant, but you'll have to switch the VISR on to even see them coming in the gloom, which means you'll have to spoil the dull graphics even further. When things get sunnier, then you won't need the VISR, rendering it entirely pointless.
You're not Master Chief so no rechargeable health - what you get is rechargeable stamina, which is fine but it runs down quickly and then you're into health pack territory. Now theres a reason that most games have abandoned health pack hunting in favour of a rechargeable system - because its boring looking for health. Its not tense, its not 'retro' its frustrating. And to annoy further, once you're into the health bar, the flashing health indicator is accompanied by a continuous beep beep beep, until you find some health. Awful.
The world isn't well realised, the character models are dated, voice acting slightly dismal, the story so far, confusingly told. Other annoyances include the music - its far too loud, and incredibly theres no option that I could see to either turn it off or even just turn it down. So you have to play through every fight with often completely inappropriate orchestral/trance tunes blaring through the speakers, unsurprisingly to the detriment of the experience.
When things open out a little, its Halo as usual with the usual fairly entertaining mix of fighting and dense story, but basically its nothing new, and frankly nothing in anyway exciting. As a shooter it feels dated and lightweight, as an addition to Halo it feels pointless.