Review: Halo playable on the PS3? Now that's legendary.
Before I go on with this review, I need to admit something. While I have played through the entire original Halo trilogy, I"m not the biggest Halo fan in the world. I always thought of the series as nothing more than your generic one trick shooter filled with a storyline as flat as a brick. That said, as one of the first highly anticipated Blu-Ray/DVD releases for 2010, Halo Legends
is a landmark for the franchise, combining the best of the East and West into one hell of a film collection. Assuming of course that you"re a fan of strong anime storytelling or the Halo franchise.
Envisioned by seven of the anime industry's most cherished and celebrated directors and animation companies, including Studio Bones, Production I.G., and Toei Animation, the series greatly expands the Halo mythos without falling into any of the stereotypical pitfalls that has recently plagued the anime industry. In other words, it's a Halo fan's wet dream.
Telling seven uniquely crafted stories, ranging from the establishment of the Spartan II program to the inner conflict between the ODST and the Spartans, Halo Legends is comprised of a series of short animated featurettes that is very reminiscent of The Animatrix
and Batman: Gotham Knight
. Unfortunately, as with any other set of collaborated works, there really isn"t any continuity between the seven shorts other than the fact that they"re a microcosm of the Halo universe.
Starting with Studio 4°C's "Origins Part I and II," this series of films takes place after the events of Halo 3 when Cortana and Master Chief are stuck on the ship Forward Until Dawn. While Cortana muses on her existence and how the entire history of the human race has been filled with bloodshed, they play out like the Cliff's Notes version of the Halo Universe starting with the Forerunners and the creation of the Halo rings. Although it can be seen as trite and insipid, especially compared to the rest of the episodes that follow, it's needed. After all, many people who may be unfamiliar to the Halo universe may be watching.
The next film, "The Duel", is when things begin to get interesting. Paying homage to Japanese Samurai films using heavy motifs, storylines, and philosophies, the story follows an Arbiter named Fal who refuses to follow the Covenant religion. Taking place in a city dedicated to the Japanese code of Bushido, Fal has to choose between keeping his pride or joining the Covenant. As the most artistic of the bunch, the film looks like a watercolor painting in motion led by the creative supervision of Mamoru Oshii, who was responsible for Ghost in the Shell
. Definitely one of the better films of the compilation.
Next up is my personal favorite, "Homecoming." As the most depressing episode, it follows the tragedies of the Spartan II program and how the soldiers came to terms with their origins. Reminiscing a bit on how Master Chief may have been made, it's easily the most personal film of the bunch and I loved every minute of it.
Toei Animation's "Odd One Out" is easily the worst one out of the seven and is borderline mediocre. The film is self-indulgent, non-canon, and plays out like a horrible episode of Dragonball Z. Although there's a good reason for that as it was written and directed by Daisuke Nishio, the directing force behind that series. The directing force behind the series. That said, it provides a break from the rest of the heavy drama and action contained within the other six stories.
The last three films -"Prototype," "The Babysitter," and "The Package"- are easily the most action-packed in Legends and are filled with enough explosions to blow the roof off your house. "Prototype" tells the story of the marine's code in which sacrifice is the ultimate code of honor. A soldier named Ghost is blamed for leading his troops without having any emotional attachment to them, and defends his squad while they evacuate the planet after a Covenant attack. "The Babysitter" reveals the one-sided rivalry between the ODSTs and the Spartans as they"re assigned the task of eliminating a Prophet.
Lastly, "The Package" represents the only film where Master Chief is the center focus of attention. Filled with explosions, dog fighting, and a three minute sprint that could only be described as "OMFG Master Chief FTW", this one is full of fan-service and is the most exciting film out of the seven; although the story does lack a bit in contrast to the other films. As the only film where the story take a backseat to the visual representation and action on-screen, it is guaranteed to make any Halo fan jump out of his/her seat.
Running the Blu-ray on my PlayStation 3 and Vizio television, the video quality is gorgeous and is filled with enough demo material to show off your set. Ranging from simple 2D animation to more complex art in "The Package" and "The Duel" the video quality can be described as a testament to the power of 1080p high definition.
There are plenty of moments that stand out as visually brilliant, often without a hitch, and provides an almost three dimensional look with striking clarity.
Although Halo Legends doesn"t take advantage of the 7.1 surround sound capabilities that Blu-Rays have, it uses Dolby Digital 5.1 to its potential. The audio is filled with enough gunfire, blasts, and explosions to flex your audio system and the dialogue is always crystal clear despite the amount of activity going on in the background. Also, there's that intangible awesomeness of the Halo theme and its "epicness." Finally, there are four language options - French, Spanish, English, and, of course, Japanese.
While the movie itself is amazing, Halo fans will definitely be happy with the amount of extras available on the disc. This disc includes one of the more impressive "Making Of" features I"ve seen in some time, running nearly the length of the film itself, with the most intriguing part describing why specific scripts were assigned to certain directors and companies. Second, the "Halo: the Story So Far" featurette explains every nook and cranny of the Halo Universe. So if you"ve ever had a question about the establishment of the United Nations Space Command look no further.
Additionally, for Blu-ray owners, the exclusive "Halo: Gaming Evolved" shows just how much of an impact the series has had on the gaming industry. From the establishment of the first-person shooter genre as a dominant force to huge multi-player experiences, Halo can be attributed to the rise of the shooter on consoles everywhere.
With a runtime of nearly 2 hours, Halo Legends is easily the most impressive film to come out on Blu-Ray or DVD in 2010. With six strong films and one mediocre one, it's a sweeping science fiction action piece that provides plenty of dramatic moments and heart pounding thrills. Does Halo Legends represent a small portion of what the live-action movie could have been? Yes. In fact, it makes me want it even more now. While the movie itself may not convert any new followers, fans of Halo, anime, or science fiction movies in general can"t go wrong. Highly recommended.