RedvsBlue: Revelation

I’ve been a fairly big RvB fan for quite a while now, having watched it regularly since near the beginning of its run. Excellent premise, the forefront of the machinima movement. Rooster Teeth came up with something big and they haven’t looked back.

The most recent edition to the RvB saga, Revelation (basically Season Eight) came to an end the other week. It’s been making plenty of waves in the online community because for the first time RT have included pre-rendered material instead of exclusively using the in-game Halo engine for everything.

And while its been wowing a lot of people, I’m not sold. It’s very visually impressive, and I don’t doubt that a lot of work went into creating it (the increasing curve in video quality of RvB is something to see) but my problem is a simple one, one that encapsulates a lot of the more recent adventures of Sarge, Church, Caboose and company.

It’s not really RedvsBlue anymore. What Revelation was is so far away from what the first season was. RvB started as a goofy comedic show, that the creators acknowledge was never supposed to go beyond ten or so short videos. Now, we have what is essentially a dramedy, with an intricate and complicated sci-fi plot, that is trying to compete with the standard dark/military humor stuff.

I wasn’t totally convinced with RvB started straying into the more serious territory of actual plot and drama (it seemed to start around the end of season five). It does seem like the creators want to eat and have their cake at the same time: the Church heavy stuff, where we get in-depth plot about the Freelancer program, A.Is on the rampage and a deeply tragic backstory and the rest, while the Red team (and Caboose) try to maintain the zany, random comedy part of the angle.

Too often I find that one loses out to the other and Revelation is the apex of that. The characters, like the Hawk-i bot in Futurama, keep switching from serious to funny at the drop of a hat. Case in point (spoiler warning from here out): Sarge has a sort of mental breakdown when he discovers that his entire military existence is based on a lie, responding by creating a ramshackle recreation of Blood Gulch in a garage. Funny stuff. Two minutes later, he’s giving a motivational speech akin to Joss Whedon’s “If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do” that is portrayed totally seriously.

It was way out of character. You can’t spend eight years making Sarge the moronic, gung-hu commander of Red Team, turn him into a serious sympathetic character out of nowhere, and expect the audience to just go along with it. At least not me anyway.

Really, I think I’d prefer if Rooster Teeth just split the show – Keep up the serious stuff in the actual RvB format, and leave the humor based part for Specials, the PSAs and such.

I make that suggestion because the serious stuff is actually quite good at times, if a little heavy on Church in terms of screentime. Washington was an excellent character to come up with and RT have done well in portraying the Freelancers as a diverse bunch of guys with conflicting motivations – From Tex as Greedy, CT as underhanded, Wyoming as a Machiavellian Brit, York as the scarred veteran, Washington as the ‘pushed too far’ guy, and Maine/Meta as a genuinely creepy bad guy (again, kinda ruined when you have him comically chasing Simmons around for five episodes. The comedy and drama don’t mix well here).

On the pre-rendered stuff: Like I said, impressive, but I’m not impressed. If you follow. Fight scenes are fine and all, but they don’t really merge well into the universe that RvB has created. We previously see Tex taken down by a single punch – next she’s taking on Washington and the Meta in something akin to Neo/Smith.

That last fight scene in particular, the one with the collapsing ice shelf, was insanely over the top, just not in keeping with the show at all. It wasn’t machinima, it was anime. And you really can only watch the Red and Blue teams get their asses handed to them once before you get bored.

I’ve just always been more impressed with what they’ve been able to portray within the confines of the engine itself. I don’t need these kind of gimmicky effects to enjoy the show.

All that being said, I do still enjoy RvB. The comedy is good, but I’d prefer more of it. The voice acting of the cast has come on in leaps and bounds. The actual characters are good, just a tad bi-polar. And the music remains well integrated with whats going on on-screen.

It remains one of the best things on the internet and I think it can get better. But I don’t want it to become a cut-scene.

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