Halo 3: ODST may be my biggest gaming disappointment this year

Unfortunately, with all the recent events I have not been able to give Halo 3: ODST any decent write-ups. That’s probably acceptable though because I simply cannot give the game enough time to do a decent write-up. Not that I haven’t been playing games, I’ve just been playing everything except this. Halo 3: ODST may be the biggest disappointment this year. The game is chock full of good ideas but is extremely poor in its overall execution.

What I really blame for this is the idea you can incorporate standard Halo gameplay without Master Chief. Bungie gave me the impression combat would have to be more strategic, perhaps more stealthy. Nope. The game is pretty much straight up Halo, except you’re not anywhere near as tough nor can you wield the same kind of firepower.

So here is a pretty decent story hamstrung by an incredibly frustrating play experience. I’m sure the game will sell like gangbusters because its Halo, people will love it because it is Halo, and the game will still continue getting decent reviews simply because it is Halo. If you’re not invested in the Halo franchise? I’d recommend steering clear.

I do want to get back into the game because I want to see how the story pans out. I just don’t have the frustration tolerance for it right now.

What we’re playing (Weekend Edition)

It’s the weekend and it’s time to get geared up for a great weekend of gaming! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these so I’ve got some catching up to do. I know Nat hasn’t been feeling well, so I’ll let him fill us in on what he’s been playing whenever he feels like it.

As for me, I’ve been pretty busy. After reading Nat’s (and everyone else’s) attempts to actually finish a few games, I took it to heart and placed a self-imposed rule that I had to finish something, anything, before I picked up a new game. I really wanted to get Burnout Paradise, so I gave it the college try and decided to wrap up some loose ends.

Even though you never really “finish” Pokemon Diamond, per se, there is an end to the game, which after consulting GameFAQs once or twice, I finally made it to. I found and finally finished off the last bad guys. It was fairly easy and quite anticlimatic. But it is the first Pokemon game I’ve “finished” so there’s that. I think my Pokedex was more than half full which flies in the face of the mantra of collect them all, but I’m only human. I’m not waiting around for a convenient Friday just to catch a pocket monster.

I also managed to finish the single player campaign in Halo 3 (On Heroic, mind you). I hated the sphincter level, but the last level was most enjoyable. A true homage to the Halo series. The ending was infinity times better than Halo 2’s ending.

Halo 3

Yes it was.

But now I’m done with those two games. Sure, I still play Halo 3 multiplayer like it’s my job, but I doubt I’ll be doing the single player much more except to find the skulls. Maybe I’ll do co-op with someone to get the achievements, but that’s about it.

So here’s what I’m playing:

Burnout ParadiseBurnout Paradise: I’m a few months behind the curve on this one, but I am loving Burnout Paradise. Burnout’s trademark speed and pedal-to-the-metal is still there, with the added open world. I haven’t stopped grinning since I started playing this one. I haven’t played with anyone online yet, but I can definitely see that being a blast. I miss crash mode but showtime mode is a decent replacement.

Super Mario Galaxy and NSMB: Again, I’m a few months behind the curve with SMG, but I can’t get enough of this. A little while ago, my 3 year-old started watching me play NSMB on the DS and wanted to try it. He isn’t bad (for a 3 y/o) and he really likes the Mario character. My daughter loves Princess Peach (duh) so our new past time is to play Super Mario Galaxy. This is another one of those games that are just plain fun. The platforming has been taken to another level with the galaxy concept. I love it. Being able to have my daughter join in the fun with the other Wii-mote is perfect. I’ve gathered 22 stars so far and I don’t want to stop any time soon.

I’ve also been playing a handful of web-based flash games (a few I’m too ashamed to admit to playing, others I’m saving for future blog posts) all in the name of “research”. And of course I can’t go to bed until I get in a game of Spider Solitaire and Tetris.

This weekend I’ll be playing Burnout and SMG, and hopefully getting back to my Mass Effect save. Should be a busy weekend.

NAT: I’ve been playing the “stay hydrated and gain my weight back” game (PSA: wash your hands). Actually, two nights ago, I finally took the cellophane off my copy of Mass Effect. My initial impression is that it’s cinematic. Even though we purchased Brawl, we must be the only home in America that’s just not sucked in by it. We’ve played it a total of two nights. My son has been keeping me busy with a few racing games: Cars, Cars:Maternational, Forza 2, and a couple of the Burnouts. However, mostly, I’ve been playing Bully: Scholarship Edition. It’s been a hoot. Last night, I popped Geometry Wars Galaxies into the Wii and now I have an itch to play a lot of that. This may seem like a lot of titles, but for me, it’s only been 5-15 minutes at a time.

What are you playing?

Pic Lens

This has pretty much nothing to do with gaming, but it is way too cool not to pass along. My bud and fellow buttonmasher, the Monkey, sent me a link to Pic Lens, a browser plug-in (it will auto-detect your browser) that is pretty much the Bee Knees. If you use Flickr, Google Image Search, Picasa, anything like that, it’s a must-see.

So why is it a must-see (and for that matter, a must-install)? Because it takes image browsing to the next level. Kicking it up a notch, as it were, if your Flickr stream were some shrimps and Pic Lens was Emeril. What it does, in a nutshell, is take an image stream and “Apple-ify it”. Think a little Cover Flow in iTunes (originally from this guy) but better. Pic Lens tiles the images in a manageable arrangement. You can then view the images in “3D”, scrolling through them much quicker than you would be able to if you were simply viewing the Flickr page, for example. You can click an individual image to enlarge in and then use your mouse scroll wheel to zoom in and out. It is very slick.

It’s also a very smart program. If you’re looking at a Flickr group (Explore, for example) that spans mulitple pages, Pic Lens is smart enough to retrieve everything in that stream. It is very slick.

After installing the plugin, when you mouse over an image, you’ll see a little “Play” button. Clicking on the play button brings up Pic Lens and grabs all the images it can associate with the image you clicked on (a Flickr stream, a Google Image Search). Then it’s surf’s up!

The only thing I don’t like is the inability to get any image information (source, tags, comments) but that is an enhancement that could always be added. It hardly detracts from the coolness that is Pic Lens.

So yeah, nothing here about gaming (although the Halo 3 Flickr Feed was fun to surf) but something I find extremely cool and thought you would, too.

Pic Lens

Actually, come to think of it, didn’t the Flickr guys try their hands at an MMO (The Game Neverending or something) and then they envisioned Flickr as a game? See, it’s all related!

Awesome Halo 3 screenshots

BS Angel has posted some really cool Halo 3 screenshots. Halo 3 may not be the perfect game, but the additional things like the theater are so much fun. I need to be using them more often.

Halo 3 Jazz Hands

Halo 3 Stats on the Go

Because I feel a need to link anything concerning Halo 3, statistics, and the getting of those statistics in divers ways, I must point to iHaloStats, an iPhone app to retrieve your Halo 3 stats at any moment.

Never have I wanted an iPhone as badly as I do right now. (via Aeropause)