Halo TV Show – Pilot Review

As of this review, only Episode 1 – that is the pilot – has been released. This is a quick review of the show and whether it’s worth subscribing to Paramount+ to watch it.

STORY – 4 / 5

The story so far is fully focused on Master Chief, which is great to see. The pilot takes place in year 2552, which is the last year of the Human – Covenant war, whereby the Covenant take their eye on destroying humanity’s inner colonies, such as Reach.

If you have played the games, you know that Halo:Reach is the prequel to the original Halo game so it looks likely that the TV show will tackle the prelude to the discovery of the first Halo ring in Halo: Combat Evolved.

The story is easy to follow and dialogue is well-delivered which I think is important for a show with such a broad appeal and international audience. The only exception to this are the first couple of scenes with actors putting on a fake accent, which never quite works.

Acting is generally good to great and we get to see Master Chief in the flesh, which made choosing an actor pretty important. I think they got it right but I won’t ruin the reveal.

While I am writing this I am acutely aware that no story is going to please all Halo fans and especially the hardcore ones. They are probably the most difficult to please crowd in the history of entertainment so it’s unlikely they will be happy with whatever is presented here.

VISUALS – 4 / 5

Some reported that the show is airing in 4K HDR, however here in Australia the show is streaming in HD only as far as the base stream is concerned. This is when signing up on a Samsung TV or an Apple TV.

The picture however appears with balanced exposure and contrast as well as excellent black levels and detail throughout.

Apple TV is the best place to watch it, followed by the Fire TV and then the Xbox and LG on-TV app. HDR might only be available on Apple TV and Fire TV in the US.

Others have criticized the CGI in places but I think it’s actually pretty solid considering it’s a TV show!

Gamers will notice all the nods to the games including weapons, vehicles and the like. Even how the Spartans engage with their weapons and environments are all realistic and just reminds you how advanced Halo: Combat Evolved was from a gameplay perspective for its time!

AUDIO 3 / 5

The audio is delivered as a DD Plus 5.1 stream. There is no Dolby Atmos. However, upmixing with Dolby Surround is possible and gets you some added steering improvement.

The audio is a bit of a let down. While the vocals are reasonably clear, the audio lacks overall clarity. Highs are compressed and lower bass seems limited during anything other than high impact explosions.

Surround steering is average while surround envelopment is above average. That is, there is a strong surround sound field but front to back and side to side steering is not strongly executed.

Keeping the above in mind, sound effects are reasonably convincing and match the games well in my opinion.

The audio work on Halo Infinite was must stronger. This sounds like it was made for soundbars and it did sound fine on a Samsung Soundbar on first viewing. It’s only when re-watched in the home cinema that its limitations became very obvious.

Audyssey settings used:

  • Dynamic EQ ON
  • Reference Level Offset: -10 (tried 0 which is an incorrect setting for TV shows but it does restore some of the low and high end in this case – so worth trying – it still does not restore the missing clarity)
  • Dynamic Volume: OFF (already dynamical challenged track so no need to add insult to injury)

CONCLUSION – 4 / 5 Overall

Should you sign up to Paramount+ just to watch the show? Well, I would recommend you sign up to Xbox Gamepass Ultimate if you haven’t yet which comes with 1 month of free Paramount+. Alternatively, if you want to save money, wait until 3 episodes have been released and sign up then so you can decide if you like the show.

The general feedback from those who were able to preview the first 2 episodes was that Episode 2 was not as strong as the pilot, so I recon it’s important to watch at least 3-4 episodes before passing judgement on the show.

Showtime has already committed to a second season which means they are pretty confident in the quality and ratings which is promising.

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