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Halo gets cinematic in live-action series

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Halo: Forward Unto Dawn (Credit: Microsoft/343 Industries)

While Microsoft's dream of a big screen Halo flick (originally planned to be produced by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson) is pretty much dead, the upcoming release of Halo 4 is letting the company make a different sort of Halo film.

"Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn" will be a series of five live-action shorts leading up to the release of Halo 4 this November. Once the game is out, the company plans to collect those episodes, add in another 15 minutes of content and release the product as a feature film, which will be sold direct-to-video.

Bam! Halo finally has a movie! Sort of!

"Forward Unto Dawn" will star Daniel Cudmore, best known for his role as the mutant Colossus in the "X-Men" movies, as Halo heavyweight Master Chief. There's no word, at this point, on whether Chief's A.I. partner Cortana will play a part in the film — and, if so, whether she'll be portrayed by a live actor or CGI.

"We want this piece to do all the things that a game, by virtue of being a game, can't," Lydia Antonini, a former Warner Bros. executive who is producing the film, told The LA Times. "When you have real people, you can have real stakes and make connections."

The film will be a prequel to the Halo series, focusing on the first invasion by the Covenant. Set in a military academy, it will include a young cadet who will play what appears to be a major role in Halo 4 and other upcoming Halo titles.

Don't expect a CGI-fest, though. Director Stewart Hendler says he deliberately avoided adding in computer generated effects, creating real versions of the weapons, Warthogs, armor and ships. That might be why the hefty budget on these films is said to range between $5 million and $10 million.

Attendees of this week's Comic-Con in San Diego will be the first to see part of the series, which will officially launch October 5. Fans will be able to watch "Forward Unto Dawn" on their Xbox 360s if they have an Xbox Live Gold membership (natch) and through Machinima's YouTube Channel. The final version of the film will be available for purchase via digital download and on DVD and Blu-Ray. It will also be included as a bonus in limited editions of the game.

Based on the first official trailer, it's clear Microsoft isn't cutting any corners here. Pretty impressive stuff:

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