In an effort to simultaneously promote the upcoming Halo 4 (in stores November 6) and momentarily quench the ravenous appetites of Halo fans who are simply unable to get enough of the epic mythology surrounding Microsoft’s most famous mascot, the computing giant and Halo 4 developer 343 Industries have created a series of live-action shorts which serve as something of a side story to the events of Halo 4. A Halo 4: Gaiden, if you will.
Dubbed “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn,” the series debuted on Machinima Prime as well as Halo Waypoint earlier today, and while there is so far only one episode available, it does an excellent job of establishing what we might see from the remaining four weekly episodes (read: lots of character-driven drama, and surprisingly little footage of aliens being shot).
As for the plot driving this promotional tie-in, the series’ official synopsis describes things as follows:
Set against the backdrop of a United Nations Space Command (UNSC) military academy, “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” follows a group of cadets who are training to be the next generation of soldiers in the UNSC’s ongoing war with insurrectionists in the outer colonial planets. Among these cadets, Thomas Lasky struggles with his doubts about the war, and with the burden of expectations he may not be able to carry. As Lasky comes to terms with his potential as a military leader, the terrifying alien alliance known as the Covenant arrives and turns his world upside down. Inspired by the Master Chief, he must decide what it means to be a hero.
Notice that bit about Lasky being “inspired by the Master Chief?” That’s crucial. We don’t want any of you hardcore Halo fans going into this thing hoping to see John-117 blasting hordes of Covenant troops to pieces. That just doesn’t happen in this series. Instead, it focuses on characters who would be seen as largely incidental in any of the Halo games. By doing this the film’s creators believe they can offer fans some deeper insight into the backstory of Halo 4 than what they might otherwise glean from simply playing the game. Of course, it’s also likely that this decision was made because creating a live-action series that documents the adventures of the Master Chief as seen in the Halo video games would be prohibitively expensive.
Mind you, that isn’t to say that the Master Chief doesn’t appear in this series. He does, it’s just that he’s not the focus of these shorts. Hopefully that doesn’t bother too many of you.
Now, assuming you enjoy the first episode (which, conveniently, you can find embedded below), and the four episodes to follow on a weekly basis leading up to the release of Halo 4, the good news is that Microsoft and 343 Industries plan to release an “extended, 90-minute Special Edition” version of the series on DVD, Blu-ray, Xbox Live Video, iTunes and as part of the $99 Halo 4 Limited Edition bundle. Barring catastrophe, that should all be available come November 6.