Aaaah Nightfall, how I wanted to love you with all my heart. A new Halo series produced by Ridley Scott you say? What could possibly go wrong? Well, quite a bit it would seem….
It’s not that Halo: Nightfall is bad so to speak, it’s just not up to the level of excellence that’s come to be expected of the Halo franchise. Whilst Halo web series Forward Unto Dawn which launched alongside Halo 4 was a low budget mini series that handled it’s limited budget (mostly) very well, Nightfall clearly has a much larger budget and yet fails to make it count.
Yes, there is some dodgy CGI. Particularly so in an early scene where lead character Agent Locke confronts a Covenant Zealot attempting a terrorist attack on the planet of Sedra, as he grapples the unconvincingly animated alien. Any tension that may have come from this key plot point is more or less immediately lost unfortunately, and moving forward it will be interesting to see how such set pieces are handled.
Forward Unto Dawn somewhat covered up for its lower budget by drenching the Covenant creatures in darkness, save for a few crucial points. A similar approach for Nightfall certainly wouldn’t go amiss. Aside from the Covenant however, the setting of Sedra is well realised, and this is where the show looks at its finest – within the locales it has created.
The series acts as our introduction to Agent Locke, a character who is set to be playable in the upcoming Halo 5, as we follow his attempt to get to the bottom of the Zealot’s attack on the colony whilst a mysterious plague spreads amongst the residents of Sedra as a result of the Zealot’s misdeeds.
On the evidence of the series premiere of Nightfall I think it’s safe to say that there is work to be done on Locke’s character, a supposed “Legendary Manhunter”. Although of course it’s early days in the characters’ development, his initial introduction hasn’t whet the appetite for his inclusion in the next numbered instalment of the franchise. Mike Colter is fine in the role, it’s just that he isn’t really given all that much to do.
The same can be said for the rest of the characters on show thus far, with the majority of the cast being more or less entirely un-fleshed out. Interestingly there is an option to watch a handful of secondary stories at certain points in the narrative when watching on Xbox, with these three short clips providing a little background on three separate characters with their monologues to camera. This is more development than the entire lead cast put together have received to this point. Though the side stories hurt the general flow of the narrative they are a nice added bonus and it will be intriguing to see how these fit into the overall story as the series progresses.
It’s difficult to really recommend Nightfall at the moment, but it’s not all bad – the weapons look great, the world in which it is set is well realised, and the next episode looks promising. Purely on the basis of the first episode however I’d suggest sticking with the unbelievable remastered Halo 2 cutscenes from The Master Chief Collection*.
It’s not the most captivating of debuts for Nightfall unfortunately, and there’s plenty of room for improvement. Hopefully with such a rich universe to tap into the series can make the jump up in quality moving forwards.
Rating (out of 5):