Tuesday, October 20, 2015

redvsblue Season 8

Season 8 of redvsblue is a major milestone for the long running machinima web series. First and foremost, it wraps up the second major story arc of series, Recollection, with season 8 being part three of three of this arc and titled, Revelation (trailer). Season 8 happens to be the final season filmed primarily using Halo 3. Finally, it is the first season where the folks at Rooster Teeth Studios start implementing CG-animation of our favorite Spartans that makes them perform all kinds of unique motion-captured animations that are not possible in the game. However, through the hard work at Rooster Teeth they manage to make it seamlessly blend in and appear that it was taken entirely from the game.

Revelation starts off with the return of Doc (Matt Hullum) who has been away for quite some time. He is answering a distress call as a result of the unfortunate ending of season seven, but it ends up being a trap set up by our antagonists for this season, the team of The Meta and Agent Washington (Shannon McCormick). Doc winds up being their obliviously na├»ve prisoner, and he has a great dynamic playing off Washington throughout the season. Last season I mentioned how Church (Burnie Burns) returned in a new way. In Church’s new presence, he has a legion of alien followers he willingly takes advantage of with an awesome eulogy scene commemorating all the fallen soldiers at the end of the big season seven battle. Not all is moonshine and gravy for Church however as he starts having flashes of his past haunt him, and allude that big happenings are soon-to-transpire.

Caboose (Joel Heyman) takes Church to a secret facility to discover some long-anticipated answers to the series’ cannon. Sarge (Matt Hullum), Grif (Geoff Ramsey) and Simmons (Gus Sorola) are not too far behind as they have been trying to fend off Meta and Wash in some slick looking, CG battle sequences. When I first watched this season I had no idea of the new tech Rooster Teeth had in mind for me and I had to do a double take and rewind before I realized what they were doing. It is really remarkable looking CG, and I am surprised at how seamless they got it to work within the Halo 3 engine.

Probably a standout use of this new CG tech is a big skirmish between the reds and the return of an even more powerful Tex (Kathleen Zuelch). Eventually Tex, the reds and blues all settle down before they discover their true nature and the answer to the long-running question of the show, ‘Why are we here?’ It is quite the stunner, and I definitely dug Sarge getting pissed off upon discovering these answers. This all leads to a dramatic showdown against Washington and the Meta in an even more impressive display of CG to close off the final big firefight of the season. The epilogue features some nice touching words after the intense final showdown. Rooster Teeth gives us a great taste of what is to come in season nine with the first shots captured from the Halo Reach engine during Revelation’s final moments.

There is the usual slate of extra features on hand. First is a three part mini-series, Holiday Plans, which lasts just under 15 minutes and is a dumb fun holiday special featuring most of the redvsblue crew. There is 20 minutes worth of bonus special videos/PSAs. The standout bonus videos this season are probably Rooster Teeth’s 101 guide on how to make a successful YouTube video and them running down video game review scores and ratings. There are two mini behind-the-scenes specials, one is about breaking down how they implemented the aforementioned CG animation which I highly suggest checking out and another interviews the two primary female voice actors of redvsblue: Yomara Cruz (Sheila) and Kathleen Zuelch (Tex).

There is the usual smattering of deleted scenes and outtakes, and rounding off the extras is a commentary track with several members of the Rooster Teeth team who swap out at random intervals. Notable talking points on this season’s commentary track feature the crew explaining Doc’s absence, their love for the film Walk Hard, setting up the first big CG sequence and working 20 hour days for the final elaborate CG scene and a nice tidbit on how Bungie let them get early access to Halo Reach for the final shot of the season.

It is a little hard to say right now whether I prefer Blood Gulch Chronicles or The Recollection as the dominant of the two major story arcs so far. I will probably give the nudge to BGC since a majority of that arc is easy to follow and it takes place primarily in one location while The Recollection is quite the ambitious project while it jumps across many maps and really explores the vast edges of the redvsblue cannon. It was a bit overwhelming on my first experience which caused me to walk away from the series several years ago, but watching the three seasons now back-to-back over three months made it more convenient to consume and it all pieced together far better for me this time around. Join me again next month as I tackle season nine!

Past redvsblue Blogs

Season 1 Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5
Season 6
Season 7

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