Halo Legends is a set of anime shorts based on the Halo franchise.
Since its debut on the Xbox, the Halo series has crossed game genres (Halo Wars) and jumped mediums with novels and toys - now it has made the jump to anime.
Halo Legends consists of eight shorts - Origins I & Origins II, The Dual, Homecoming, Odd One Out, Prototype, The Babysitter, and The Package - created by five top anime production houses and dubbed into English by Seraphim Digital Studios, an anime dub/production company whose recent work includes the drama, Clannad.
This production explains the back story of the Halo universe, including the origins of the Halo, the Arbiter, and the Spartans.
The opening gives a few quick glimpses of the stories to follow and puts you in the mood for what will be a wild ride around the galaxy as the Halo series is put into perspective. From the water paint look of The Duel, to the CGI of The Package - you're in for a strange mix of art styles.
Origins 1 & 2 - Studio 4°c
The first story is comprised of two parts and Cortana tells the back story of the franchise as a whole. The story revolves around the Forerunners, creators of the Halo ring, and the Flood invading their planet. The Forerunners sacrificed themselves to kill off the Floof via the Halo. These features give you a better idea of how destructive the Halo rings are: they will wipe out everything, everywhere - they'll even take care of your cockroach infestation.
The Duel - Production I.G
The transition between animation style has this part looking like an animated oil painting - similar to Capcom's Okami. It tells the back story of the Arbiter, the second playable character from Halo 2 and ally in Halo 3, and how the role came to be seen as shameful by the Elites.
Homecoming - Production I.G
Despite being from the same production studio, Homecoming's art style is as different as the two stories preceding. This episode tells the story of a trainee Spartan who escapes the training facility and returns home to discover a clone has taken her place.
Odd One Out - Toei Animation
The transfer to this story's visual style is much less jarring than the first half of the set - instead it's the comedic theme that will come as a shock after the serious nature of the previous shows. Odd One Out is just that - it's the comic relief with Dragonball Z references in abundance, from human strong humanoid characters to an alien dropping from the sky in a ball shaped pod - just like a Saiyan.
Prototype - Bones
This story pulls the tone from comical, back to serious. It shows a flashback of a young female soldier dying as her commander, "Ghost", watches. As she lays dying, she challenges him to feel something. Driven by the loss, he steals a prototype Spartan outfit he was supposed to destroy and goes nuts in one of the best firefights in the set.
The Babysitter - Studio 4°c
In this episode a Spartan and an ODST squad go on an assassination mission and the Spartan shows off some Dead or Alive-esque melee skills - moving like the Spartan from Dead or Alive 4 when she takes on a brute.
The Package - Casio Entertainment
The final chapter features CG animation by the studio behind the Appleseed movies. In the package the Spartans rescue a scientist. During a couple of corridor runs that camera zooms to first person view and it looks just like the game - from his cross hairs to the status bars it's a nostalgic trip to be sure.
Watching the Halo Legends set in order makes the animation feel a little disjointed. As soon as you're into one style, it changes to another - it's quite jarring. The most notable cases are with Production I.G's, The Duel and The Package by Casio Entertainment. Although that isn't to say either were bad, just too dramatically different to be watched at once. They are best viewed on their own, so you can appreciate the individual styles and stories.
Overall everyone will have a favorite short, whether it's determined by their favorite production house, art style, or story. Even if this is as close to a Halo movie as we ever get, it's a perfect fit for the series.
Halo Legends features a good selection of extras to explore from Commentary by directors Frank O'Connor and Joseph Chou. Halo: The Story so far which gives an insight up until Halo 3 and the self-explanatory Making of Halo Legends.
In addition, if you pick up the blu-ray there's an exclusive feature titled Halo: Gaming Evolved - an obvious play on the Halo Combat Evolved. This feature provides an overview of the franchise from the novels, games and toys.
Keep it locked on NZGamer.com for your chance to win a copy later this week!