Halo Legends Blu-ray Review
PictureHalo Legends comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p resolution, encoded using the VC-1 codec and framed within 2.40:1 and 1.78:1 aspect ratios. The disc itself is region free
As is the case with animations, both cel based and computer generated, the primary concerns when making the jump to a home format are those of sharpness, colour stability and any problems that occur from compression. On most counts this disc passes with flying colours. The edges are generally well delineated and there are no obvious signs of colour bleeding. The palette varies but the contrast remains strong throughout, with black being deep and foreboding whilst whites stay bright and only blow out when used for artistic purposes.
The issues that raise their heads are thankfully not overly noticeable during the entire run-time but rather more prevalent in particular sections. Origins is the main offender, showing some pretty poor instances of banding but manages to keep it under wraps to a certain extent for much of the time. Aliasing also pops up around some of the line work, but it didn't seem as glaring as the aforementioned banding. These aren't going to spoil the experience and over the two hours may seem instantly forgettable, but what could have been reference material just has enough flaws to disappoint those eagerly awaiting perfection.
SoundThere are numerous language tracks on this disc, but unfortunately all of them, including the English one, are standard Dolby Digital 5.1.
Much has been made of the leap to lossless audio, with some claiming it to be nothing more than snake oil, but the fact that some releases on a home medium, that advertises the capability of peerless experiences, still skimp in this regard will likely annoy some. The good news is that this is a fairly robust track, if lacking a little when needed. Dialogue is well prioritised and remains clear throughout, with even the most hectic of moments not barring the audible nature of speech.
Gunfire crackles and is helped out by the LFE, but only up to a certain point. The sub threatens to come alive at various points but never truly wakes up and shows the kind of strength that fans will want to accompany the on screen carnage. This lack of true low frequency leaves the mix feeling a little light at times. The pans are functional but lack the sort of subtlety one would associate with live action material, occasionally seeming telegraphed. Thankfully there is more than enough whizz bang action for the speakers to throw about the soundscape, with some accomplished levels of cohesion and directionality.
This isn't a bad mix by any means, it is just that the lack of lossless knocks it down a point or two, and the slightly imbalanced nature of some of the effects makes the whole affair vary somewhat from segment to segment. Were the overlying score brought to the fore more this would not seem like a real problem, but unfortunately it is often swamped by the action and as such never gives the implication of a universal thread running the length of the feature. This track will probably satisfy gamers used to more primitive mixes as it is perfunctory, but avid Blu-ray fans will probably notice the lack of subtlety and proper LFE usage.
Franchise development director Frank O'Connor and producer Joseph Chou join us to impart titbits about Halo Legends. They cover just about every base that any fan would want to hear about, including the stylistic choices, production and the franchise as a whole. There is a fair bit of routine back slapping going on but mainly these two keep their conversations on track and they talk with great authority about the lore of the universe and enthusiasm about all things relating to Halo.
The making of Halo Legends - 1080i - 54:49
Eight mini featurettes that can be played individually and cover all of the constituent stories of Halo Legends. A selection of those behind the productions give their opinions and insights regarding the inception of the project, as well as the execution of it, while clips of early artwork and animation footage play on screen. Why they chose the anime style, how different stories fit in, why this format was chosen etc - all are covered and in a well explained manner.
Halo - gaming evolved - 1080i - 21:46
Various gaming industry names as well as a few notable others from different mediums are brought together in a series of talking head clips to discuss the impact that the original Halo videogame had on people and the scene as a whole. It is always nice to take a little trip down memory lane as I can still remember where I was when I first saw the game in action. Whilst this is a welcome feature, the gaming bods (all sporting similarly “humorous” T-shirts) rely pretty heavily on unbridled fandom and “like” “y'know” as opposed to highlighting where the experience of first person shooters was actually refined by those at Bungie. Add to this the occasional rewriting of gaming history in which the works of Rare and Valve with the titles Goldeneye and Half Life are mere asides and Mario is derided, and this starts to whiff a bit of a fan convention. Once the line “Halo as a piece of science fiction is as important to this generation is, as maybe Star Wars was to an earlier generation” is uttered, we know we're not in for an impartial analysis. The gameplay footage is great, but details of the evolution in question are pretty thin on the ground beyond the obvious.
Halo - the story so far - 1080i - 23:56
Essentially CliffsNotes for those unfamiliar with the backstory or perhaps hankering after a little refresher course in Halo lore. It is a simple but effective piece of narration over the cut-scenes from the previous titles as well as some additional footage from Halo Legends.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths trailer - 480p - 1:17
Halo: Reach trailer - 1080i - 1:17
Teaser footage that hints at the conflict ahead in this game, to be released autumn this year.
VerdictHalo Legends is likely one for fans of the series only. The animation techniques used are at times stunning and will appeal to those who appreciate stylistic anime, but the content itself deviates a lot from more traditionally Japanese material. It has all the flavourings of Eastern anime yet somehow still has an air of Americanism. Whether you feel this is a positive or negative depends on just how well realised you felt the story elements of the Halo franchise have been.
The disc is a similarly mixed affair, with some gorgeous visuals that are prevented from achieving the heights the medium can offer by a couple of unsightly flaws. The sound is functional but lacks the lossless audio we have come to expect. The bonus features are a welcome reminder of where this global brand has come from and where it is heading. They cover just about everything one could want. If you're a fan of the gaming series than you will certainly want to pick this one up, but if you are less than an Uber-devotee, you may just want to rein in your expectations accordingly.
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