You hear ‘video game adaptation’ and you instantly assume that it is cursed to be ‘in development’ for the rest of its life. Accurate much? Halo has also had its share of being in development and remained an awaited series for quite a long time now.
Now that it is here, I can safely say it did not disappoint. But if you’re looking for an out-and-out adaptation of the video game, then you might not be satisfied.
Halo keeps the main essence of the video game intact but is not a frame-by-frame adaptation of the game. It establishes its own continuity, separate from the game universe. However, it gets the approach correct for the most part.
How game-accurate is the series premiere?
The Paramount series does remain an adaptation of the video game series but also breaks tradition to give the show its own dimension.
Before this series, everything in the Halo universe, including the games, the comics, and the previous live-action series, were taking place within the same continuity.
In other words, the Halo universe was a unified one shared by various forms of media. But the Paramount series decide to take things a little differently: it establishes a continuity separate and different from the games.
Having said that, I don’t mean to say that the series is out to redefine every facet of the Halo universe. The show actually begins in a time set before the events of Halo: Reach.
At this point, the United Nations Space Command is not too aware of the actual intensity of the threat posed by the Covenant.
We can expect to see the events of the “Fall of Reach” and the original Halo trilogy over the course of the series.
We cannot say how much the show might divert from the actual universe or continuity by just watching the premiere, but it is not like it has no connection to the Halo universe familiar to the fans.
How is the series similar to the games?
The characters featured in the premiere of Halo are bound to be familiar to the fans of the games. We see Pablo Schreiber as the Spartan warrior John-177, better known as Master Chief.
Alongside him, Soren 066 (Bokeem Woodbine) and Kai-125 (Kate Kennedy) were also featured.
Other familiar UNSC faces in the premiere were Dr. Catherine Halsey, Captain Jacob Keyes, Miranda Keyes, and Admiral Margaret Parangosky.
But the show does not end with just the familiar faces. The premiere introduced new characters, such as Makee and Kwan Ha Boo, who hint at more diversion from the familiar storyline of the games.
Talking of similarities, the pilot also has certain moments where it tries to blatantly imitate the video games. For instance, the premiere opens with a scene involving a firefight between the Covenant Elites and the Spartans.
This scene was pretty accurate to the game, as it included liberal use of first-person shots and all manner of iconic weapons.
However, the scene falls victim to bad CGI and makes the Covenant characters look pretty awkward. The general intensity and feel of the video game did not really translate onto the screen.
How is the series different from the games?
Coming to what the show does differently, the first things that come to mind are the non-action scenes.
The show may not have been able to outlive the brilliant appearance of the video game but it does a good job of making it a story worth being told.
The premiere tried to, for example, humanize John-117 far more than the games ever did. There were hints about his past and the growing conflict in his mind was also portrayed well.
This humanization does not stop with just John-117 but also extends to his fellow Spartan soldiers who are portrayed as loyal beings.
There is, however, not much time wasted on world-building because the writer assumes that the audience has some sort of basic familiarity with the Halo universe in general.
In that sense, it just lets the differences and diversions in the storyline remain self-explanatory.
Honestly, I would say that the USP of the show would be that it is not an out-and-out adaptation of the game and has much more to offer.
Halo is an upcoming American live-action sci-fi television series based on the Halo video game franchise. The series has a budget of an estimated $200 million. It is scheduled to premiere on Paramount+ in early 2022.
The series stars Pablo Schreiber, Natascha McElhone, Charlie Murphy, Jen Taylor, Shabana Azmi, Bokeem Woodbine, Kate Kennedy, Natasha Culzac, Yerin Ha and Bentley Kalu.
Halo will focus on the 26th-century war between the United Nations Space Command and the alien Covenant. The series will “weave deeply drawn personal stories with action, adventure and a richly imagined vision of the future.”