I remember the first time I played the video game “Halo.” I was a student living on a university campus, when a friend of mine invited me over to play a new game on a brand new gaming system—the Xbox. Like most video games, Halo was built on a story. Back then the graphics and first-person perspective were so compelling that the story was secondary to the game play. But now, 20 years later, because of the overwhelmingly popularity of the game, a nine-part live-action series has been released on Paramount+.
Even if you know nothing about the video game, the sci-fi story can stand on its own. Space ships, aliens, enhanced human super-soldiers, and a galactic war are the raw ingredients of a well-scripted, well-acted futuristic space drama based in the year 2552.
At the heart of this series is an interspecies conflict over “the artifact”—an ancient and mysterious piece of technology that has the power to destroy the universe. Additionally, when paired with a second artifact, it can show the way to a mysterious destination called the Sacred Ring, or “the Halo.” Because this is the first season, the episodes in this series raise a lot of important questions about the significance of the rings and why the United Nations Space Command and the Covenant (an alien threat) both want it so badly.
The story centers upon a single super-soldier named Master Chief. When he touches the artifact, flashbacks erupt in his mind, breaking through the programming that suppresses his emotions and memories. Infused with an A.I. guide named Cortana, Master Chief (also named John—117) experiences a mystical connection to a mysterious human named Mackee who resides with the Covenant. Mackee’s backstory is revealed layer by layer in key episodes.
True fans of the game have mixed reactions to the streaming adaptation of such beloved characters. But the first season sets up a second that many viewers hope will answer questions, further the plot line, deepen characters, and impart meaning and significance to the Halo Rings. (Paramount+, rated TV-14 for language and violent action scenes)