Starting within the rough realms of Halo 2’s adjustments to the Halo universe, Red vs. Blue unexpectedly took us from what seemed a meager jaunt through internet meme in video form to a legend of itself as it evolved alongside the Halo franchise, and managed to become something truly unique. Throughout the various strings that make up our beloved worldwide web, there are countless professional, amateur and even less-than-amateur attempts at releasing creations unto the digital public. These are generally for quick (and notorious) fame, or for anonymous entertainment of the masses. I’m not certain which one the people at Rooster Teeth were after, but they managed to successfully make their place in internet history with their creation. Whatever their motivation, they have managed to dodge infamy and remain a positive mark in internet geekery.
In the distant future, ten soldiers battle for control of the least desirable piece of real estate in the known universe—a box canyon in the middle of nowhere. Red vs. Blue chronicles the misadventures of two hapless armies as they wage a war that few understand and no one wants to fight. It all started with a simple question: “You ever wonder why we’re here?” But in a place called Blood Gulch, the answers aren’t always what you expect. What began as a six-episode video project created by a group of avid Halo® fans quickly took on a life of its own. Five seasons, 100 episodes and millions of downloads later, Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles has become known as one of the funniest and most popular Internet video series of all time. This 6-disc DVD set includes all 100 episodes from the five seasons (remastered for Seasons 1-4), as well as hours of exclusive bonus material.
Red vs. Blue, based around opposing sides stationed within Halo 2’s Coagulation map (Blood Gulch for the first release veterans) provides us with a story full of quick wit, strange twists and a story that you’ll think couldn’t have possibly retained any sort of coherency after a certain point. Somehow, however, the guys at Rooster Teeth manages to put together something that left me laughing nearly constantly with none of it feeling repetitive, cheap or unintentionally immature. The usage of Halo 2 as a tool to tell a story is amazing with what they’re able to accomplish. I still often play Halo 2 and I still find it baffling that they were able to shoot a large portion of this series within the Xbox version of the game, and using only a few tricks here and there to hide that fact. Considering that aspect, it’s not difficult to believe that the series turned out in the decency that it did as it gives a perfect example of how dedicated the team was, and that they strived for a decent outcome.
The voice acting is rough for the most part, but by the end of the first season many of them improved. It was to be expected that things weren’t perfect right of the bat since, when simplified, it is only a game being used for a comedic web series. You’re not exactly expecting cinematic quality in that case. Like I said, though, the voice acting does improve as the series runs on and eventually you can tell when the voice actor has settled into a comfort zone with their voice. This helps immensely as there were a couple characters that I didn’t care for throughout the first season or so, but once the voice actors got their schtick down, it gave new life to each character.
Overall, I’m sure this isn’t for everybody, especially if you have no interest in video gaming culture which this thrives in through blatant references – such as being shot IN a video game – as well as subtle references here and there. The most subtle and yet most present reference is the ever frustrating problem that finding a good team in the middle of a battle is simply impossible. If you fancy Halo, have a passion for video gaming culture, or are just nerd/geek curious in general, then I Highly Recommend checking this out.
Arriving on DVD in a six disc box set, Red vs. Blue definitely continues in the footsteps of web-content on DVD that New Video has kind of pioneered. Not only are all one-hundred episodes included here, but also quite a bit of bonus material as well. Sure, some of it was available online previously but it was scattered around the web—here we get it all in one, tidy package. The discs are housed inside three-disc amaray standard width cases which themselves are housed inside of a cardboard slip case. Menus are simple and easy to navigate and the video and audio are quite impressive for a web series (although as a sticker on the front of the cover states, these are “remastered” episodes for seasons 1 – 4, so that explains the cleaner-than-I-remember picture). Audio is a simple stereo mix but for the dialogue driven show it works perfectly.
The Xbox LIVE Miniseries Out of Mind and Recovery One
Audio Commentary by the Filmmakers
Rare Clips from the RvB Archives
The packaging denotes that, on top of these, there’s “much more!” but there really isn’t; just a few odds and ends thrown in here and there, but the main brunt of it all is presented in the list above. It’s a really solid collection overall and any Halo fan will no doubt not only be entertained endlessly by the nearly nine-hours of content between the seasons themselves but also the mass amount of bonus content as well. An all-around solid collection and one that’s Highly Recommended.
Red vs. Blue – The Blood Gulch Chronicles (The First Five Seasons) arrives on DVD on June 29th.
Series review by Andrew
DVD review by Zach Demeter