The Web Series / The Movie
The hitherto most expensive game by Microsoft was also given the most expensive live action promotion: : Halo 4, released on November 6th 2012, is the starting point of the new Reclaimer Trilogy and focuses less on shooting and more on adventure and strategy aspects. Halo 4 takes place four years after the happenings of Halo 3 and the player still acts as the super soldier John-117 called Master Chief.
Four weeks before the game's release, five connected webisodes of about 15 minutes each were broadcasted on Machinima Prime and Halo Waypoint with the title Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (Part I-V). These are the prolog of Halo 4 and show the beginning of the war between the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and the alien alliance Covenant. One of the characters involved is the young cadet Thomas Lansky, who is an officer on the UNSC Infinity in the game.
However, if viewers have not had a lot of contact with the Halo universe so far, they might also not get a lot from these episodes or the movie version, which is available on DVD and BD. The movie, quite expensive with a budget of about 10 million dollars, does work in itself but throws the viewer into this special universe without giving him or her any background information and leaves them there afterwards without real closure as well. Characters, data, alliances, timelines, aliens – people not familiar with the story might have problems finding their way through this universe. After all, it was mainly used as advertisement on a gaming website.
Nonetheless, fans of the genre who buy the DVD/BD of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, which has been availabe since December 4th 2012, will be able to enjoy an above average Sci-Fi movie with solid acting, good special effects and a nice dramatization. Even though they might not be able to understand everything they see.
This movie cut of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn is called Extended Cut on DVD/BD (sometimes also "Not Rated Special Edition" on the covers of the discs). As often, this sounds more spectacular than it really is, but at least Microsoft Studios does not advertise with a special long version.
The additional content is a rather long part about the new recruits enrolling at the Corbulo Academy of Military Science and an outtake reel at the end of the movie. Both additions can be seen as a bit slow and not adding much content. The short intros of the single webisodes (that were always teasing the game a bit) were cut together to an opening sequence that does not quite have the same have the same effect and seems a bit strange.
If you have seen the webisodes, you can therefore miss out on the retail version. Everyone else cannot make any big mistakes as there is only one version available for purchase anyway.
Customer satisfaction a là Microsoft.
The new epilog: The cadets of the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) Academy present themselves in a video diary. Scenes of the usual hair cutting, exercises or everyday situations at the academy can be seen. The squad leader also talks a bit.
Quite often their thoughts can be seen as more of an interior monolog. They think of the meaning of the war agains the rebels on the outer colonies, the rightfulness of using lethal force and also many personal influences to enroll at the academy. Thomas Lasky already can be seen as the main character here, he doubts the war and his own ability to kill most.
The content of the opening scenes is the same: KI Cortana wakes Master Chief from the cryostasis on board of the destroyed and aimlessly floating Forward Unto Dawn. This opening was split into five 39 seconds parts. In the Extended Cut, the sequence can now be seen in one piece.
At the beginning of the single parts the Machinima Prime logo can be seen, on DVD it is the 343 Industries logo. The latter also includes some credits instead of the title overlays that can be seen with the single episodes.
The webisodes one to four feature a small preview to the next part and fast rolling credits at the same time. At the end, the broadcast dates can be seen and the Machinima logo ends the video.
The last one of the episodes shows the same ending credits as the movie version, but with the same fast speed as the previous ones. Scenes from the episodes/movie can be seen in the lower part of the picture. It ends like the previous episodes with the info screen and the Machinima logo.
The Extended Cut shows the credits in front of a black background and in normal speed, which results in the longer running time.
The Extended Cut features some outtakes. These include all the common scenes we know from these reels like lost lines, people walking into the picture etc. It ends with the 343 logo.