Plot: This box set from Shout Factory collects a host of Halo goodness, so I have given each piece of content a separate section here. Below is what to expect from this epic collection of Halo/Master Chief content. As a package, this is a Halo fan’s dream and offers a terrific value.
Halo Legends: This is a seven part animated series, which runs about two hours and each segment features a unique director/narrative. As with all anthologies, some of the pieces are better than others, but I found this to be a more than solid assortment of animated shorts. While it is cool to see the various approaches taken, the tones also differ, which means some come off as deadly serious, while others are more light hearted or even absurd. Odd One Out takes a wild approach that is sure to divide viewers, but I was glad to see a bold direction taken, even if it seems like an odd inclusion here. The Duel would be my pick for the best of the pieces, but most are more than watchable. A nice blend of story driven, action oriented, and off the wall, Halo Legends might be inconsistent, but it offers a wide scope of content. The animation is a pleasure to watch in all the episodes, but again, some showcase more style than others, without question.
Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn: A live action Halo movie/series has been talked about years, so Forward Unto Dawn was no surprise when it arrived. A five episode web series, this show throws us into the cadet training program, as young Thomas Lasky strives to live up to the military greatness of his family name. His drive to succeed leads to some bold, but often reckless actions that draw the ire of his commanders. By turn, he falls out of favor with his squad mates, who don’t want to be lumped in with him. Soon Lasky ponders not just his destiny as a soldier, but his life in general and what he should do with his. But when Covenant forces arrive and launch an assault on the academy, all bets are off. As a fan of Halo, I found a lot to like in this series, but I do think it might be a little tough for newcomers to the franchise. This is because the series assumes viewers have a certain level of knowledge about the Halo world, so time isn’t taken to explain a lot of details and background information. But for Halo fans, Forward Unto Dawn packs a mean punch and is quite fun to watch.
Halo Nightfall: This live action series ups the ante from Forward Unto Dawn, with a grander scale and more spectacle. The narrative takes place between Halo 4 and 5, with a small band of ONI soldiers dispatched to investigate potential Covenant activities, only to be caught in the middle of a horrific terrorist attack. A virus threatens to neutralize not only the Oni soldiers and everyone else in the area, but could spread much further and be a doomsday situation for mankind. The virus only harms humans, which shows it had to be part of a Covenant plot, so the Oni soldiers will need to cooperate with local authorities, even if the alliance is a shaky one. While some of the CGI in this is beyond questionable, the story is a fun one and it is awesome to see the Halo world on a grander live action platform. Agent Locke’s rise to prominence is an obvious driving force, but overall, Nightfall is rock solid entertainment. So in other words, it progresses the games’ narrative, but also tells a capable story of its own.
Halo The Fall of Reach: This is an animated feature that runs just over an hour, offering a rare glimpse into the past of Halo’s central figure, Master Chief. How young John is scouted and molded is quite interesting, as well as a look inside the Spartan program that the games never provided. I am sure some will be let down, as our own imagination can be hard to beat, but I admire the effort taken to provide some depth for Master Chief and the program in general. If you’re a big Halo fan, seeing MC suit up for his first mission is a real thrill and for me, made me want jump back into the games. The animation here is almost like digital watercolor in some ways, a little more stylized than standard digital animation techniques. I do think the voice acting is a little mediocre, but it isn’t bad by any means. It had to be a tough task to shed light on the past of such a beloved figure, but I think The Fall of Reach has a lot to offer Halo fans.