Mar 31, 2010
Halo Legends is clearly not for the everyday Halo fan. The release is along the vein of The Animatrix as Halo Legends is a series of Halo inspired anime shorts (episodes) created by a popular Japanese anime studios. This project was spearheaded by 343 Industries, the internal Microsoft team in charge of future releases for the Halo property for Microsoft Game Studios. If you didn’t know Microsoft owns the Halo license and from what I’ve read Halo Reach will be the last Bungie developed Halo video game. 343 Industries will be apparently taking the reins.
Watching the episodes many things as a fan of the video games just didn’t seem right and instantly had the ability to remove me from the narrative. The main issue is the voice actors for Cortana and Master Chief are not the same as in the videogame. The Animatrix did the same thing with all principles but in Halo Legends it’s very apparent and distracting primarily because they just are not as good as their original actors. Another nitpick is in many episodes the visors on some character helmets sometimes are see though, something that I despise they changed on Samus Aran.
All the episodes (not so much in “Origins“) have clearly a very Japanese narrative and visual presentation to them that felt slightly out of place in comparison to the Halo universe.
“The Package” steals a sequence straight from Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children where a spartan floating in space takes the hand of Master Chief and lifts him up to the sky/door in a bout of self sacrifice.
If these brief synopses of the episodes don’t intrigue you….stay away.
The special features are a mixed bag. The “Halo: Gaming Evolved” featurette was not very good. A lot of gaming media, journalists, and Microsoft employees singing praises of the intellectual property. Though the features my favorite participant was Graeme Devine (programmer/designer on many good games) who worked on Halo Wars and has some genuine enthusiasm for the series. “Halo: The Story so Far” was a better offering giving a good synopsis of the narrative history though Halo 3.
Even though it was an hour long I did enjoy the “making of” features. Interesting note…if you watch close enough you can see the motion capture team for “The Package” episode were using Wii Zappers in place of SMG’s.
Halo Legends is hard to recommend if one cannot tolerate anime even if you are a dedicated fan of the Halo series. Netflix sent me the Blu-Ray version and the visuals are very impressive. All the artwork is very good and the computer graphics look nice on a HDTV. Sound was at junctions low for dialog and many sound effects (exposions/brass/bullet sounds) didn’t match what is used in the games. Much of Martin O’Donnell’s soundtracks were reused well. The usage of much of the Halo 2 soundtrack was welcomed as it’s fantastic.
For anybody slightly interested I would suggest to watch “Origins”, “Halo: The Story so Far”, “The Package”, then chapter stop though the making of to see if any of the other episodes will spark interest. At the least that is an hour commitment and for Halo fans that path will provide the viewer my recommended viewing unless your a completionist.
Noted in the making of feature they did list these “episodes” as canon minus “Odd One Out” but this release can be passed if your interest in the series is strictly for the games.