Microsoft Hits the Hard Sell with ‘Halo 2’ Documentary

By November 1, 2014
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November has arrived, and this year, the month is absolutely filled with high-profile video game releases on every major platform. Both the Xbox One and PS4 will see the likes of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Assassin’s Creed Unity released, Nintendo fans are getting the highly anticipated Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and PC fans are even getting a new expansion for the beloved World of Warcraft. Chances are, though, that if you’re a big follower of the Xbox platform, then this coming November 11th is circled on your calendar for Microsoft and 343 Industries’ ambitious release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection.

The centerpiece of this year’s Xbox Media Briefing at E3The Master Chief Collection will unify all four main games of the Halo franchise on a single platform for the first time. It’ll include the 2011 remaster of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, the brand new remaster Halo 2 Anniversary, and upgraded ports of both Bungie’s Halo 3 and 343’s Halo 4. The big talking point is that all four games will be playable with every multiplayer map each of those games released, in addition to bumping up the resolution and framerate of them all to 1080p and 60 frames per second, all from a unified user interface.

As we get ready for the final marketing push toward release, Microsoft produced a new “documentary” entitled Remaking the Legend – Halo 2 Anniversary. While it introduces some interesting factoids and anecdotes from the initial production of the first two games of the series as well as how those games helped to launch the Xbox Live service, the second half was pretty much entirely devoted to the creation of all of the new features of Halo 2 Anniversary, which is definitely the biggest element to the release of The Master Chief Collection. From interviews with staffers at 343, a select few of the original developers that worked at Bungie at the time, as well as a few fun little surprises, Remaking the Legend was a fun hour of entertainment, and likely will be for most people that take it in, and especially to Halo franchise fans.

Calling it a documentary, though, may be a bit of a stretch.

It certainly looks like a documentary. It has some great information about the making of both the classic releases of the first two Halo games, some cool insight into the creation of older and more modern video games, interview with developers and dramatic talent, and some fun technical details. Still, though, there’s a lot of that famous Xbox “producer-speak” that permeates much of this, and with the final few minutes focusing on how this release will revolutionize and simplify the Halo experience as we barrel toward next year’s Halo 5, it becomes pretty clear that this is little more than an infomercial. Granted, it’s an awesome infomercial that should redefine the infomercial genre (if there is such a thing), but strictly calling this a documentary certainly misses the point of why this was made.

Some of the interviewees are better at hiding this fact than others. Phil Spencer, the current head of Xbox at Microsoft, is certainly one of them. Many of the people that speak about this are genuine in both their enthusiasm for and belief in their work, and that’s always infectious. There are a few, though, that betray the true intent, which has the potential to water down the experience of watching it.

If you love Halo, you’ll really enjoy watching this. I certainly did, but most people will likely detect pretty quickly that this is little more than an hour-long commercial. That’s okay, if commercials were this cool, informative, and largely insightful, then that would be a step in the right direction. If you’re a Halo fan, though, and are trying to convert someone else to your way of thinking, this movie doesn’t really provide a lot of ammunition for that battle. Still, it’s worth watching, and if you have an Xbox One, Xbox 360, or a Windows PC, you can watch it for free.

Be on the lookout for GeekNation’s upcoming review of The Master Chief Collection later this month, and “finish the fight” when the game compilation is released on November 11th.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.