Atmosphere heavyModern Warfare 2 from Infinity Ward and Activision will probably be the first person shooter that pops up on most Game of the Year lists and end 2009 as being one of the most award-heavy titles while also having the biggest sales of the year. And, were I a player who spends hours upon hours each week playing multiplayer, shooting other people and searching for the perfect loadout, I would certainly award Modern Warfare 2 the "Multiplayer Experience of the Year Award."
My history with FPS goes back to Nightmare runs of Doom in the '90's, so the single player experience is the most important element for me. Halo 3: ODST might be a misshapen beast that should have not sold for 60 dollars, but at least it manages to offer a campaign, which delivers a lot of action, some quiet moments and a great side story without insulting the intelligence of the player.
There's no Master Chief to be found in ODST and that's both the main strength and the weakness of the release. I wish Bungie had taken greater advantage of the freedom that the New Mombasa setting allowed them, emphasizing the human cost of war and the calamity of the urban combat (like Sadie's story briefly does).
I wish the flashbacks to the other members of the team had been longer and more fleshed out, moving out of the combat-heavy segments and allowing for some narrative and characterization. I wish the overall feeling of the night sections had contrasted less with the day time segments. I wish the game had shown off how vulnerable humans soldiers, even highly skilled ones, when facing the toughest of the Brutes that the Covenant threw at them.
But even if it's a bit by the numbers and built so that the Halo 3 fans could get something to play within the universe while they are waiting for Halo: Reach, which is set to bring back playable Spartans, there are a lot of solid shooting elements in ODST augmented by great music, a competent plot and some supporting characters that you can actually care for.