Halo 3: ODST

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Halo 3: ODST Game Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Impressive prequel focuses on co-op tactics to shoot aliens.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 27 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 104 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

In this fictional world, you play as a rookie space marine, a human soldier who protects Earth from an alien invasion. The message isn't bad in this light, but you only use violence to ward off the creatures and never pursue less violent means.


Positive Role Models & Representations

You play as a good guy in this sci-fi shooter, but use weapons to make your way through the game by blowing away thousands of baddies. Depending on how you look at it, the game's role model -- a nameless rookie who joins the ODST team of highly-skilled space marines -- is either good or bad.

Ease of Play

The game is fairly easy to pick up -- especially for Halo players and fans of other first-person shooters. Plus, a tutorial and manual walks the players through the main controls.


As with past Halo games, Halo 3: ODST is a first-person shooter that lets gamers fire powerful weapons, including machine guns, rifles, pistols, and rocket launchers. Small amounts of blood can be seen spraying out of enemies, which are mostly alien in nature, and they scream in pain and fall to the ground. Blood is also seen smeared on walls and floors. During firefights the camera may blur or the screen shake to heighten tension.


Not pushing the limits of profanity, but some swear words can be heard during dialogue sequences or radio chatter in your soldier headset. Examples include "sh-t," "bullsh-t," "a--hole," and "bastard."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this first-person shooter is rated "Mature" for its graphic depiction of violence. This is a futuristic science fiction game where most of the enemies you're shooting at are alien creatures bent on Earth's destruction. Players will use a variety of weapons to take out the baddies, and some blood is shown. While an "M" rated game, this one is less violent than others like the Grand Theft Auto series. The game offers many options for playing with others including online where open voice chat is available so there's the potential of hearing cursing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byThe Fair Rater August 5, 2010

No Halo game should be rated M

Bungie did a wonderful job on Halo ODST. It is highly entertaining and has the violence of a T game. Unfortunately ERSB doesn't see to notice that. Blood i... Continue reading
Parent of a 15-year-old Written byAlesmith December 17, 2009

Pretty Tame For A Mature Rating

If you envisioned mature games as a ladder, Halo would be the very bottom rung. At times while looking at the rating on the Halo series I find myself strugglin... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old December 6, 2019

Halo 3 odst review

Super cool shooter game! Authough it has some blood in it and also some swearing it is still very cool. Normally it is alian blood that is Blue,Orange and purpl... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byeggmanjames August 7, 2018

What's it about?

In HALO 3: ODST, a futuristic sci-fi shooter that takes place between the events of Halo 2 and Halo 3, players take on the role of an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper, part of an elite group of space marines dropped into hostile areas. This time you're deployed to Earth, in the African port city of New Mombasa, to ward off an invasion from the nasty Covenant alien race and find out the motivation for their invasion. While the action is still seen from an immersive first-person perspective, Halo 3: ODST is more of a close-quartered game than previous adventures, with much of the fighting taking place in smaller urban spaces, and focuses heavily on cooperative tactics with your ODST teammates (nicknamed "Helljumpers") rather than destroying aliens by yourself.

Is it any good?

Though the single-player story is a relatively short 8-hour campaign, the game-play is intense and worth playing multiple times. The new Heads-Up Display (HUD) gives players lots of info on their surroundings, plus new weapons, maps, and some surprises make this game a memorable one. But Halo 3: ODST also introduces the awesome "Firefight" mode, a new cooperative multiplayer option where up to four ODST fighters can take on increasingly challenging waves of Covenant invaders. Also included in the box is a second DVD with three new Halo 3 multiplayer maps for online play (via the Xbox Live service), as well as all original Halo 3 maps and downloadable map packs, totalling 24 in all.

Online interaction: The game is even more fun when you add online friends, but as with past Halo games, you might hear cursing from other players in your headset. This is true for most online games, and many Halo players use the headsets to talk tactics while working together as soldiers towards a common goal.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of shooters. Does it give players a rush to blow away enemies from a first-person perspective? Is this a bad thing as it might desensitize players to violence and potentially whet their appetite to do it in real life; or is this virtual thrill healthy because it can serve as a stress-relieving and entertaining escape from the day-to-day grind? Is it any better or worse than a violent Tarantino movie? At what age do you think teens should be allowed to play these games? Why?

  • On the continuum of violent video games, how does this one stack up? How does it compare to a title like Grand Theft Auto IV, where you're working your way up in the criminal underground of a contemporary city and can kill innocent people and police officers?

  • This is a compelling game for many teens and can create time-management issues. How might you as a family go about handling setting gaming time limits?

Game details

  • Platforms: Xbox 360
  • Price: $59.99
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Big Huge Games
  • Release date: September 22, 2009
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • ESRB rating: M for Blood, Language, Violence
  • Last updated: June 20, 2019

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