With "Halo 4" hitting store shelves this week, fans everywhere can finally see what happened to Master Chief, who's returning to the forefront of the storyline. But his isn't the only story in the "Halo" universe. For a decade, the talented jokesters at Rooster Teeth Productions, lead by filmmaker Burnie Burns, have been creating their own farcical story, titled "Red vs. Blue," by manipulating characters in the game and adding voiceovers to act out short comical skits.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the series (and the release of "Halo 4"), Rooster Teeth has just released a special edition "RVBX: Ten Years of Red vs. Blue Box Set" on Blu-ray.
The series focuses on two groups of soldiers — red and blue — who find themselves at odds, as players of the game normally would in the series' much-heralded multiplayer mode. However, these characters are loaded with personality, including the no-nonsense Sarge, the dim-witted Caboose and the lazy — and nearly fatally injured — Grif.
For each episode of "Red vs. Blue," the team uses a technique called "machinima" to recreate situations and characters from the "Halo" multiplayer games, then pairs voices with them so they look as though they're interacting. You can't see their lips moving — the players are wearing helmets — but you can see them moving their heads up and down as they speak, then performing actions when the script calls for it, such as hijacking a vehicle or walking right into an explosion (that's usually Grif).
Microsoft has embraced the series. In fact, when the "Halo 3: Legendary Edition" game was released a few years ago for Xbox 360, some extra episodes of "Red vs. Blue" were thrown in as a bonus.
Throughout the 10 seasons of the series, "Red vs. Blue" has connected across various story arcs, including the initial "Blood Gulch Chronicles" (which introduced the team and caused them to separate with the help of transporters), "The Recollection" (which introduced a new set of automated characters known as Freelancers, and tasked the teams to find out who is hunting them) and "Project Freelancer" (which evolved the story of the freelancers, as well as the teams). With each one, the story picks up, but Burns and company kept tongue firmly in cheek for the most part, keeping the laughs coming. A lot of dedication goes into the writing and voicework, so that the tone of the series never waivers.
Featuring all 10 seasons along with a number of special features, the box set also contains interviews and behind-the-scenes extras that show how the series is put together. You'll learn, for example, how "Lord of the Rings" star Elijah Wood got involved with the series earlier this year, playing a freelancer by the name of Sigma. It's a wonderfully packaged set, with 14 discs and hours worth of "Halo"-laced laughs to enjoy. It's priced at $180 for Blu-ray and $140 on DVD.
Season 10 is also available by itself for $20 on DVD and $25 on Blu-ray. And Burns has announced that season 11 is already in the works, which will possibly utilize the new multiplayer engine from " Halo 4."
With "Red vs. Blue," it helps to have a little bit of knowledge — or be a fan — of the "Halo" universe. But there's still some appeal here for regular folks, mostly in the dialogue and the shifting story. Check out more details on "Red vs. Blue," as well as other projects at Rooster Teeth.