‘Halo: Season 1’ Is Not The Best Start For The Video Game-Based Show

Courtesy: Paramount+/Showtime

Early this spring, Showtime and Paramount+ brought Microsoft’s beloved video game Halo to audiences in a brand new streaming series by the same name.  Audiences who don’t stream finally got the chance to see the brand new series for themselves last month when its debut season was released on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K UHD platforms.  The series’ debut season is an intriguing first impression that while not perfect, is worth watching at least once, regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the Halo video game franchise.  The success of the series’ debut season comes in large part through its special effects, which will be addressed shortly.  They give audiences at least some reason to give the series a chance.  While they are an impressive part of the series’ opening act (of sorts), the story at the center of Season 1 is not as strong.  This will be discussed at more length a little later.  It is not enough to doom Season 1.  To that end, there is at least one more positive to note in this season’s presentation.  It comes in the form of the bonus content that accompanies the debut season’s home release, which will also be examined later.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the season’s presentation.  All things considered the first season of Halo is not perfect but is still worth watching at least once.

The debut season of Showtime and Paramount+’s Halo streaming series is an interesting first outing for the show, which was adapted from the highly popular Microsoft xBox video game franchise.  The show’s success comes in large part through its special effects.  The balance of the live action and CG elements throughout the series creates a welcome general effect for the presentation.  It is clear when those CG elements are used and when actual sets are used, such as in the asteroid field used by Soren (Bokeem Woodbine – Fargo, Queen & Slim, Spiderman: Homecoming) and the other pirates as their home.  The sets are live action, but the moments when the “cars” travel the wires between the asteroids are clearly CG.  The balance of those moments conjures thoughts (at least to this critic) to the way in which the CG and live action were balanced way back in the 90s in Babylon 5.  That is mean in the most complimentary fashion.  The battle scenes in which audiences watch Master Chief, Kai, Riz and Vannak battle the Covenant monsters were clearly lifted right from the Halo video game.  That is obvious in the heads up displays that are shown as the group shoots the alien beings, and just as much in the fight sequences themselves.  The thing of it is that even as obvious as those incorporations are, knowing they are lifted from the video game makes them bearable.

On yet another note, the prosthetics used to create the Covenant Prophets is another great special effects element used here.  Audiences learn through the bonus content (which will be discussed later), the Prophets are real…or rather, they are real in the fact that they were created through the use of prosthetics by a company called 343 Industries.  The work that went into bringing them to life on screen is so wonderfully comparable to the work of the Jim Henson Creature Shop, which has crafted creates for another well-known sci-fi series, Farscape.  The similarity in style will appeal to fans of both series.  This is just one more of so many ways in which the special effects used here prove to be the most notable positive of the series’ debut season.

While the special effects used in the lead season of Halo are unquestionably impressive, the show’s story is sadly somewhat less impressive.  The story follows as such: John — Master Chief – (Pablo Schreiber — Orange is the New Black, Skyscraper, 13 Hours)  is the ultimate military soldier.  However, after a mission to a colony that comes under attack by the Covenant aliens, something starts to change in him when he touches an artifact found on the planet where the colony is established.  The more John touches the artifact, the more he comes to learn a dark secret about his past that involves the military organization known as UNSC and the not so honorable scientist, Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone – The Truman Show, Solaris, Ronin) who works with the military organization. Eventually, John learns the full truth of who he is and what happened that led him to fight for the UNSC.  Some audiences may think this whole setup is original, but the reality is that it is anything but.  Those familiar with the history of cinema (and television) will immediately find a very close similarity to the setup for Orion Pictures’ 1987 action flick Robocop here.  That is because Officer Murphy (Peter Weller – Robocop 2, The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai Across The 8th Dimension, Naked Lunch) saw something very similar happen to him in that movie.  When Murphy is gunned down by a group of evil drug runners, he is “brought back to life” by OCP when he is turned into a cyborg cop.  When he starts to remember his past, things start to change for him just like things changed for John as both figures start their own journey of rediscovery and growth.  As John learns the truth of what Halsey and the UNSC did to him, he still has to face down the beings from The Covenant and prevent them from using a device that could potentially wipe out all life in the universe.  How many times in science fiction history has a story’s protagonist had to stop evil beings from using some all powerful device to wipe out all life in the universe?  Again, this is nothing new.  To that end, the story becomes even less engaging.  That is because it is really the same story put against a different (albeit very familiar style) backdrop.

The secondary story involving Kwan Ha is just as much of a problem.  That is because her story really ultimately does not entwine with John’s central story, as much as the writers tried to make the two stories work together.  Ha (Yerin Ha – Reef Break, Sissy, Troppo) wants to avenge the death of her father, Jin Ha (Jeong-hwan Kong – Rampant, Designated Survivor: 60 Days, Jeon Woochi). The thing is that even though Jin Ha died at the hands on the Covenant, her attention is more on a separate figure named Vinsher Grath (Burn Gorman – The Expanse, Pacific Rim: Uprising, The Dark Knight Rises).  Grath is an evil overlord of sorts who runs things on the planet where Kwan Ha and her people’s colony was established.  In other words, her story is fully secondary.  There really is no connection whatsoever to John’s story.  What’s more, she never even plays a part in the final outcome of Season 1’s primary story.  It just leaves one wondering why her story was there, other than just to help set up the primary story and nothing more.  Again, keeping this in mind, the overall story in this season of Halo simply proves anything but positive.  Yes, it is worth watching at least once, but really offers nothing outstanding or extraordinary.

Add in the story of yet another sub-story, that of Makee (Charlie Murphy – Happy Valley, Peaky Blinders, The Last Kingdom) and the story becomes even more problematic.  That is because her anti-hero style story is so formulaic in itself.  She starts out as a member of the Covenant, who ends up making “the ultimate sacrifice” by the season’s end because of an eventual revelation about herself and The Covenant.  It is yet another element that has been used and re-used way to often throughout the history of television and movies.  To that end its use here is anything but original.  When this additional story line is added to Kwan Ha’s secondary story and the primary story involving John’s own self-revelation, the whole proves just the same as ever.  So again, the story does little to add anything spectacular to this season.  It does not doom the season but doesn’t add much of anything to the season either.

Knowing Season 1’s overall story does not doom the season’s presentation, there is at least one more positive to note.  That is the season’s bonus content.  The bonus content is contained largely on the season’s fifth disc.  It consists of extras, such as examinations of the show’s costumes, sets, weapons, etc. The feature that examines the Covenant, as noted before, is one of the most notable.  It would have been so easy for the show’s creative forces to just have the Prophets be CG creations, but they didn’t go that route. Rather, they actually took the time to make the Prophets real characters.  It makes for so much appreciation for the work that went into bringing them to life.  The examination of the sets, weapons and costumes are just as enjoyable because audiences see the amount of time and work that went into making everything as believable as possible on screen.  It shows that a lot of effort and time went into paying tribute to fans of the original video game, even if only in terms of the general effect.  To that end, the bonus content that is presentation in Halo Season 1 makes for plenty of engagement and entertainment, as do the special effects. When the two elements are joined, they make up at least to a point for the failing of the season’s collective writing.  Keeping that in mind, it makes this premiere season worth watching at least once.

The debut season of Showtime and Paramount+’s Halo streaming series is a presentation that does not fully live up to expectations.  That is regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the video game franchise on which the show is based.  It is not a total loss, though.  The show’s special effects give audiences reason enough to take in the show and watch at least once.  That is due to the balance of the live action and CG elements.  The overall story, what with its three story lines (technically four if one count’s Soren’s own story), is anything but original.  The interweaving arcs are examples of writing that has been used time and again in dramas and action presentations alike.  They are stories that have been done time and again, just against a new backdrop.  While the overall writing is anything but original, it is not enough to doom the season’s presentation.  That leaves at least one more positive to be noted in the form of the bonus content that comes with Season 1.  The bonus content overall shows the amount of time and work that went into making Season 1’s general effect positive and believable.  The extensive episode discussions that accompany each of the season’s nine total episodes add even more to that appreciation.  When the overall bonus content is joined with the positive of the special effects, the whole makes this season worth watching at least once.

Halo: Season 1 is available now.  More information on this and other series streaming on Paramount+ is available at:

Website: https://paramountplus.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/paramountplus

Twitter: https://twitter.com/paramountplus

More information on this and other series on Showtime is available at:

Website: https://showtime.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/showtime

Twitter: https://twitter.com/showtime

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The Monster Factory Launches Its Official Website

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations
From left to right (Top to bottom row): Jessica Dupré, François Toutée, Roxana B.L., Viky Boyer, Maya Kuroki, Raphael Osorio, Simon Girard, Sébastien Croteau, Maude Théberge, Marie-Hélène Landry, Philippe Langelier, Misha Standjofski, Jeff Mott (CNW Group/La fabrique de monstres S.E.N.C.)

Voice over artists in Canada have a new way to get their names (and voices) out there for companies looking for talent for their productions.

Talent company The Monster House which formed in 2018, launched its official website Friday.  The website allows film and video game companies to hear voice work samples and see profiles of various voice actors.  It also allows representatives to contact those actors about working on select projects.

Members of The Monster Factory have been featured in video games, such as Assassin’s Creed (Ubisoft), Resident Evil 7 (Capcom), and Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Eidos).

Among the members of The Monster Factory are death metal singers.  Their unique vocal delivery styles make them natural selections for various video games and movies.

Corrine Cardinal, one of the co-founders of The Monster Factory, talked about the company’s talents in a recent interview.

“In a world where video game and film companies strive to reach unparalleled levels of realism, the quality of the sounds we produce is still unmatched. Our talent pool, comprised of women and men, offers a sonic and textural diversity for all types of projects,” said Cardinal.

The Monster Factory recently debuted a short film titled Horde as a means to showcase the talents of its member death metal singers.  The nearly four-minute film is streaming  here.

More information on The Monster Factory is available along with all of its latest news at:


Website: http://www.lafabriquedemonstres.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lafabriquedemonstres

Twitter: http://twitter.com/DeMonstres


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‘Virtuaverse’ Soundtrack Is Another Impressive Genre-Spanning Offering From Master Boot Record

Courtesy: Master Boot Record

Electronic music artist Master Boot Record has been keeping himself rather busy lately.  The composer/musician, who will henceforth be referred to as MBR since his given name is unknown, released his latest album Floppy Disk Overdrive in March through Metal Blade Records.  Not long after its release, he released another collection of songs in the form of the Virtuaverse OST.  Virtuaverse is a point and click computer game whose plot centers on an artificial intelligence that controls the world, and the efforts of a group of people to change that.  The game’s graphics are a throwback to the look of computer and video games from the late 80s and early 90s while the soundtrack, again, crafted by MBR, is a full-on synthwave presentation.  The 13-song compilation is a surprisingly impressive work, too, thanks to its sound, which lends itself to comparisons to Daft Punk’s work on the Tron: Legacy OST.  In other words, this latest offering from MBR is a presentation that will greatly appeal to electronic music fans.  That is evidenced right from the soundtrack’s opener, the official theme song for the game.  It will be addressed shortly.  ‘Optimized User Experience,’ the soundtrack’s closer, is another example of what makes the soundtrack stand out.  It will be discussed a little later.  ‘DDoS Attack,’ which comes just past the soundtrack’s midpoint, is one more positive point from the soundtrack.  It will be addressed later, too.  When it is considered along with the other noted songs and the rest of the soundtrack’s entries, the compilation in whole becomes a work that will appeal to any electronic music fan.

Master Boot Record’s official soundtrack to the video game Virtuaverse is a welcome offering from the electronic music composer/musician.  Having come shortly after the release of his latest album Floppy Disk Overdrive, the 13-song record will find a wide appeal among fans of electronic music.  That is proven in part through the compilation’s opener and the game’s theme song.  The use of the keyboard and electronics in this song leads to a comparison to works from Daft Punk on the soundtrack to Disney’s Tron: Legacy.  The incorporation of the guitar and drums into the mix adds even more impact to its presentation, as that element is used sparingly and is well-balanced with the song’s other elements. It likens itself to the material presented in Floppy Disk Overdrive.  The balance of those more 80s’ new wave style elements and the harder-edged sounds throughout the song adds even more to the composition’s appeal.  The overall dark, yet driving sound of the song in whole makes it a powerful opener for the soundtrack.  The use of the visuals in the game’s “trailer” — on its website — along with the song makes for even more impact.  By its end, the song leaves audiences wanting more in the best way possible, and audiences get more throughout the record, including the soundtrack’s equally notable closer, ‘Optimized User Experience.’

‘Optimized User Experience’ is another work that fits just as well in this compilation as it would in Floppy Disk Overdrive with its combination of electronics and guitars.  The song’s opening bars are grounded in a steady, single-note beat from the keyboards.  That beat is accompanied by what is meant to be a very “digital,” “computerized” sound.  Eventually, an actual melody joins the mix along with a steady, driving bass drum beat and guitars.  The whole of that sound creates what can only be described as a very industrial/electronic metal sound.  It is a sound that will appeal to fans of acts, such as Julien-K, Orgy and to a lesser extent, Gravity Kills.  The most notable aspect of the arrangement in whole is how is starts so subdued but gradually builds over the course of its four-minute-plus run time until eventually coming to a shattering finale that closes out the album on a truly powerful note.  The fact that the song builds so steadily and manages to keep listeners engaged and entertained throughout shows that the time and thought that went into the song’s composition paid off quite well.  The result is a work that closes out this soundtrack just as well as the game’s theme song opens the soundtrack.  It still is just one more of the soundtrack’s most notable works.  ‘DDoS Attack’ is one more example of what makes the Virtuaverse OST such an impressive new offering from MBR.

‘DDoS Attack’ is another very Daft Punk-eque work in its opening bars, with the keyboards and electronics creating a very brooding, melancholy and mysterious opening.  The sense that this approach creates in listeners ensures listeners’ engagement right off the bat.  The eventual addition of the guitar (effects?) and the melody to the arrangement builds on the foundation formed early on in the song, continuing the entertainment.  As the song progresses, that addition of the guitars to the mix (and the drums) makes for even more of a comparison to works from Orgy than that of any of the collection’s other songs.  The general effect of the composition is wholly engaging and entertaining.  It shows once more why this compilation, despite being a soundtrack, is still another impressive collection of original works from Master Boot Record that will appeal not just to gamers but to rock and metal fans and to those of electronic music and EDM even.  Keeping that in mind, this song, along with the other arrangements noted here and the rest of the collection’s featured works, make this soundtrack one of the biggest and best surprises of the year.

Master Boot Record’s soundtrack to the video game Virtuaverse is a surprisingly enjoyable new offering from the electronic/rock composer/musician Master Boot Record.  It takes the successes of each of his past recordings (of which there are many) and builds on them with even more new material and sounds.  From the soundtrack’s opener to its finale, the compilation’s synthwave sounds and arrangements change things up constantly while also keeping things interesting.  The result, as noted through the trio of songs examined here, is a work that despite being a soundtrack, a quite pleasant surprise for so many audiences.  It is available now through his official bandcamp page.

More information on the Virtuaverse OST is available online along with all of Master Boot Record’s latest news at:









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My Town Games, Discovery Inc. Partner To Create New Co-Branded Games

Courtesy: My Town Discovery/Andrea Blain PR

My Town Games has partnered with Discovery, Inc. for a first of its kind agreement to create co-branded games that allow children to have open-ended play.

Courtesy: My Town Discovery/Andrea Blain PR

The new coordinated effort will launch later this summer as “My Town Discovery” a game aimed at children ages 6-12.  It features a virtual world in which children can “hang out” with their friends and explore their community.  That includes  visiting the Science Discover Museum — designed my My Town and Discovery, Inc. — seeing the school that they will attend in the fall, playing mini-games and more.

Matt Bonaccorso, Director, Discovery Inc. Marketing & Digital Products, said Discovery, Inc. was happy to be partnering with My Town Games for the new effort.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with My Town to encourage young boys and girls to discover and learn about their community via this innovative platform,” Bonaccorso said.

Courtesy: My Town Discovery/Andrea Blain PR

My Town Discovery will debut at the App Store and Google Play as a 7-day free trial.  After the trial ends, game players will have the option to “join the club” with a monthly subscription fee.  As an added bonus, My Town Discovery will specially-branded “did you know…” educational content aimed at its young users.

On a side note, My Town Discovery will initially not have any IAPs.  More games and adventures will be added in the coming months.

More information on My Town Games is available online now at:


Website: http://www.my-town.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mytowngames

Twitter: http://twitter.com/mytowngames


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ELEAGUE Crowns Its First Champions

Courtesy: Turner/WME - IMG

Courtesy: Turner/WME – IMG

ELEAGUE has crowned its very first champion.

The professional gaming league created by Turner and WME – IMG has crowned the champion of its inaugural season.  Virtus.pro defeated Fnatic Saturday 16 – 10 (Cobble) and 16 – 8 (Mirage) at the league’s championship showdown.  The match was aired live on TBS from the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, Georgia.  Audiences can see the final moments of the championship match online now here.  More information on ELEAGUE is available online now at:




Website: http://e-league.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ELeagueGaming




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Snoop Dogg Featured In New COD: Ghosts Voice Pack

Courtesy:  Activision/Infinity Ward

Courtesy: Activision/Infinity Ward

Snoop Dog is back.

The rapper/reggae artist will be part of Activision’s new upcoming Call of Duty: Ghosts Voice pack. He will be the announcer for the first of the new COD: Ghosts voice packs. He actually narrates the various scenes through which players make their way in the voice packs. He will even keep track of kill streaks and alert players to enemies as he narrates the game in the new voice pack.

The new Snoop Dogg voice pack and other customizations are all available now for Xbox Live. A release date for its availability on other platforms will be announced at a later date. Gamers can check out a video interview with Snoop Dogg right now online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT1ycFs618g&feature=youtu.be. Snoop discusses in his interview why he agreed to be part of the new COD Voice Pack. He notes that the franchise’s popularity is one of the reasons that he agreed to be part of the new voice pack. Fans can even check out a few samples of Snoop Dogg’s voice over work on the new Voice Pack as part of the interview.

All of the latest news on Call of Duty: Ghosts is available online at http://www.facebook.com/CallofDuty and http://twitter.com/callofduty. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.