The Halo franchise is going the Animatrix route by releasing a series of anime short films in a collected anthology entitled Halo Legends. The collection will feature seven stories told across eight episodes, all serving to expand the mythology of the Halo universe, much in the same way that the recently-released Halo 3: ODST sought to do.

For those of you still waiting on your live-action Halo movie, it seems as though you’ll have to make due with Legends for now, so, if “universe expansion films” like The Animatrix or Batman: Gotham Knight haven’t turned you off completely to this sort of thing, check out these highlights from the Halo Legends official press release:

Go deeper into the Halo universe than
ever before with Halo Legends, an all-new, CG and traditional anime
PG-13 experience that presents enthralling new stories from one of the
world’s most popular video game franchises. Produced by 343
Industries, a part of Microsoft Game Studios, the exciting
tales-beyond-the-games will be distributed February 9, 2010 by Warner
Home Video as a Special Edition 2-disc version on DVD and Blu-Ray™ for
$29.98 (SRP) and $34.99 (SRP), respectively, as well as single disc
DVD for $19.98 (SRP) due date for all versions is January 5, 2010.
The chapters will also be available On Demand and Digital Download.

The individual episodes fall within Halo’s 26th Century mythology as
the battle between humanity and aliens rages on in an attempt to
protect Earth and mankind’s expansive number of space colonies. The
dramatic, action-packed stories feature characters and locales
familiar to Halo fans, and episodes range in length between 10 and 17
minutes –  resulting in nearly two hours of animated adventures.

Halo Legends – 2 Disc Special Edition version will have several hours
of incredible bonus features, including:

The Making of Halo Legends – An introduction to Halo Legends followed
by a making-of segment for each episode.

Halo:  Gaming Evolved – Explaining the Halo phenomenon from its
inception as an Xbox video game to a present day entertainment
franchise.

Audio Commentary with directors Frank O’Connor and Joseph Chou

Widescreen (1.78:1)

Halo Legends Blu-Ray versions will be loaded with bonus materials,
including all the great extras from the 2-disc Special Edition as well
as Halo: The Story so Far, an overview of the Halo universe up until
the end of Halo 3.

Much like previous universe-expanding anime features, each “episode” of  Halo Legends will be helmed by a famous anime director, and all of the episodes will  produced (and written)  by 343 Industries, a division of Microsoft Game Studios (the creators of Halo). The “animetion” studios involved with the project are all pretty famous, respectively responsible for such notable anime series such as Ghost In The Shell, Full Metal Alchemist, Cowboy Bebop, Dragonball Z, Patlabor, Macross Plus, Vampire Hunter D, and of course, The Animatrix and Batman: Gotham Knight.

Check out a trailer for Halo Legends:

Right now, I’m kind of split on these “universe expansion” anime films; I loved The Animatrix but only felt so-so about Batman: Gotham Knight. Personally speaking, the actual storyline behind Halo has always taken a back seat (as in waaaayyyyy back) to the run-and-gun excitement and multiplayer mayhem of the games, but I know, for example, that there is a whole genre of fan-fiction dedicated to expanding and exploring this particular sci-fi universe, so I guess that devotion warrants something like Halo Legends being released. I’ll definitely be checking it out.

What about you – does Halo Legends sound interesting (especially to those of you who aren’t already fans of the game)?

As stated, Halo Legends will be available on February 9, 2010.