Portraying a video game franchise as a film is not new, and has been done for decades. However, this is often met with mixed success; though films like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and the more recent Warcraft ended up making a good profit, the ‘failure’ comes from the video gamer audience. Gamers might feel like the movie (or some of its characteristics) isn’t true to the game, with even a few mistakes being met with resistance. At the same time, the film must also connect with non-gamers (at least those unaware of the video games’ own story).
To alienate the gamers, or alienate the non-gamers? I don’t think it’s either or, but a matter of properly balancing between the game’s own story, and the film introducing it’s own characteristics. I think where others have failed, Halo as a TV series does good on this balance. It probably helps that Halo is such a ubiquitous game franchise to begin with (especially with Microsoft/Xbox); who hasn’t heard of Master Chief, Cortana, and covenant alien baddies? More so, Halo already had films and animated adaptations before, such as with Halo Legends (2010).
To boot, the new Halo TV Show done by Paramount collaborated with 343 Industries (the video game company for the entirety of the Halo game universe), which seemed to have kept models for the characters (namely Master Chief’s armor), weapons, and vehicles very accurate, alongside special effects and sound effects. The TV show also directly brings us to the primary characters we’ve known from the games, Master Chief, Cortana (and her creator, Halsey), the Convenant, etc. The origins of most of the characters is also kept true, like with how Spartans are emotionally suppressed super soldiers.
So, what’s different? The biggest one might be with Master Chief. It’s also very obvious: The dude takes off his helmet and reveals his face literally in the first episode. He’s rarely, if ever, taken off his helmet in the games. Yet, I feel like it’s justified. By this point you already know Spartans are unemotional killing machines. Master Chief made contact with an object that temporarily evoked emotional responses, awakening his humanity. He took off his helmet to connect with a human girl he wanted to save. Throughout the series, he still has his helmet off most of the time, but again, it’s justified. He’s at home base, unarmored, because realistically, soldiers don’t need wear their damn suit and helmet 24/7 when they’re safe at home and not actively performing missions!
I honestly feel that the differences don’t demean the game in anyway, and are carried out to add a bit of uniqueness, so that even gamers can enjoy the show (without watching a carbon copy of the game they already know. I can definitively say I enjoyed the TV show, and it was equally as enjoyable for me as my boyfriend, who knows not much about the games.