It’s not often a team of people can create a machinima series and really make it work. Make it stick through so many years of episodes and content to the point where it crosses between games in a franchise and becomes a true part of the franchise itself.
Red VS Blue has certainly accomplished this as a series, however they’ve gone one step further with the release of Season 9 (distributed by Siren Visual) with the introduction of pre-rendered CG. Additionally, this season is in-fact a prequel to all those released so far, taking an extremely fresh approach to the franchise.
The use of CG as well as the series being a prequel go hand in hand because this season focuses primarily on the Freelancer Project, a project some of the characters in earlier seasons of Red VS Blue hail from.
A secondary story is presented with one of the characters Epsilon-Church that revolves around Epsilon-Church reliving his memories and trying to reconstruct who he is. It’s an interesting switch between the two stories as the Epsilon-Church story is told fully with machinima while the Freelancer arc is presented in full CG, really separating the two stories apart and giving each a unique flavour, both engaging in their own right.
As stated earlier this is the first time fully computer generated graphics have been used in the Red VS Blue series and it adds an entirely new element to the franchise. Characters having faces, being able to have conversations without helmets on, as well as scenarios being presented that could not normally be, really refreshes the series.
In addition to that the quality of the CG itself is quite high, sure not as high as a proper animated movie however this works to its benefit as if the quality was too high, it would detract from that machinima style experience. That said, the fact that the season isn’t entirely machinima does in itself take away from said machinima feel and as a result isn’t quite as engaging as it isn’t entirely what fans would expect it to be.
With the way Season 9 is presented, despite being a prequel, it would be quite difficult to enter the series at this point as the story is a little confusing without prior knowledge. On top of this, there are many recalls and references to earlier parts of the Red VS Blue series that would simply be missed by any newcomer. Other plot points left unexplained in earlier seasons are also explained in the Project Freelancer arc which appear irrelevant to the story unless you’re aware of what it relates to.
This truly is a season for the Red VS Blue dedicated and this is shown with the special features the DVD version contains. There’s your usual out-takes and deleted scenes however they’ve also gone strongly into the detail of how the computer generated graphics work with audio commentary and video features about how much work was put into that particular aspect of the season.
These features really compliment the main feature and expand on many aspects of it as a whole yet once again without knowing the whole picture you can be left a little lost. While this season really is for the Red VS Blue dedicated, newcomers can certainly watch it and enjoy the graphical prowess and amazing voice-work the franchise is known for. Just be prepared to be left a little in the lurch when it comes to the story unless you at least have checked out earlier seasons briefly.