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"Halo Legends" is an entertaining way to waste a few hours

"Halo Legends" is an entertaining way to waste a few hours

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Ever since the release of "Halo 3" in 2007, Microsoft’s hugely successful video game franchise has been spinning its wheels with no real progress. The two Xbox 360 titles which have followed "Halo 3" — "Halo Wars" and "Halo 3: ODST" were amusing but lackluster; and since both games were prequels to "Halo 3," they did nothing to advance the story that fans have been following since the first game came out in 2001.

Halo the movie
Copyright 2010 Warner Bros. Home Video. All Rights Reserved

Now, Microsoft is trying to keep fans satisfied until the release of yet another Halo prequel game coming out this fall, "Halo Reach." Their latest offering is "Halo Legends," a DVD which tells seven short Halo-related stories. The animated stories last about ten to twenty minutes each, and most of them use the Japanese anime style of animation.

Halo Legends
Copyright 2010 Warner Bros. Home Video. All Rights Reserved

The first two segments are called “Origins I” and “Origins II.” They give a rather vague back story to the Halo trilogy, briefly chronicling the dominion of the Forerunners, an extinct alien race that created the Halo ring-worlds, and their battle against the parasitic life form known as the Flood. The prologue is narrated by Cortana, a sentient artificial intelligence construct that appears in the three games of the original Halo trilogy. She tells the story to Master Chief, the franchise’s main protagonist, as they drift through space on a broken down spacecraft after the events of "Halo 3." These first two parts had strong potential - they could have given some valuable insight into Halo mythology, but ultimately, they use unclear allusions and innuendos instead of just answering the questions fans have been asking for a long time. Maybe they should have called the DVD "Halo Origins" and used the entire thing to create a fully realized origin story.

Halo Legends
Copyright 2010 Warner Bros. Home Video. All Rights Reserved

“The Duel,” the second entry, tells the tale of a member of the evil alien alliance called the Covenant and his battle against his own species after realizing that their war against human-kind is based on a lie. “Homecoming” is about the terrible struggles of the people chosen to be part of the Spartan II super-soldier program. “Odd One Out” is a silly, light-hearted story about a Spartan II soldier who becomes stranded on an unknown planet. “Prototype” takes on a darker tone as it tells about a stone-cold human soldier called the Ghost who tries to regain some of his lost humanity. “The Babysitter” deals with the rivalry between a highly-trained group of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs) and the Spartan II that accompanies them on a dangerous assassination mission.

Halo Legends Movie
Copyright 2010 Warner Bros. Home Video. All Rights Reserved

The last entry, entitled “The Package” is the crown jewel of the series. It abandons the Japanese animation of other segments and uses a more tradition CGI style which gives us some incredible action scenes. We are also treated to an intriguing story tidbit that any informed Halo fan will appreciate. The segment by itself is not enough to make the DVD a must-have, but it is still pretty impressive. If a Halo feature film is ever made, we would want it to look something like this.

Halo Legends movie
Copyright 2010 Warner Bros. Home Video. All Rights Reserved

Most of the stories are surprisingly sad and downtrodden. There isn’t much comic relief, except for the painfully out of place “Odd One Out” story. One of the ways that Legends succeeds is by showing us that the Human-Covenant war was not without its share of tragedies and atrocities, committed by aliens and humans alike. While the original games had a few sobering moments of their own, this compilation brings the world of Halo to a whole new level of darkness.

Halo Legends movie
Copyright 2010 Warner Bros. Home Video. All Rights Reserved

Clocking in at 119 minutes, "Halo Legends" is an entertaining way to waste a couple of hours. But it does nothing to revolutionize or even revitalize the franchise.

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