Hot on the heels of the announcement of Halo: Forward Unto Dawn, Ubisoft has released a live-action prequel for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier that proves online video is becoming a major part of the gaming industry’s marketing playbook.

Ghost Recon: Alpha is set up as a kind of prequel to the upcoming video game and follows an elite squad of soldiers as they travel into the heart of enemy territory to eliminate a high profile target. Using futuristic weapons (like invisible cloaks and hovering spy cameras) the soldiers get more than they bargained for when they intercept the sale of a nuclear weapon.

The production quality, special effects and balls-to-the-wall action make Alpha far more than a twenty-three minute commercial. This is a stellar example of a new burgeoning breed of branded entertainment, where video game manufacturers are foregoing 30-second spots to create highly engaging, very watchable, and easily shareable content.

Produced by Little Minx (a Ridley Scott & Associates Company that makes one helluva exquisite corpse) the short is directed by François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy, and Ludovic Houplain (Academy Award-winners of Logorama) and written by Tim Sexton (Children of Men) and Gregory Pruss. If that level of talent wasn’t enough, Alpha was edited by two-time Academy Award-winner Pietro Scalia and shot by District 9 cinematographer Trent Opaloch.

Looking at the roster of talent attached to the prequel, it’s a clear indication Alpha is meant to be more than a marketing tool for a popular game franchise. It’s also a clear indication we’ll be seeing more big Hollywood names in the credits scroll of these types of entertainment properties in the future.

Alpha isn’t the first live-action video game prequel which Little Minx has produced. The company made the suspenseful and engaging Alan Wake prequel Bright Falls back in 2010.

Ghost Recon: Alpha, much like Bright Falls, utilizes a Transmedia approach to incorporating online video into the world of the game. While both projects may seem like  a standard marketing tool, they make the content an integral part of the world that also appeals to newcomers to the franchise. They both feature characters from the game and reveal a story that intertwines with the main plot in a fluid, intelligent way.

As a casual gamer, I can honestly say after seeing the Ghost Squad out maneuver a giant CGI robot killing machine in live-action, I’m tempted to at least do some of my own recon into purchasing the latest title in the Ghost Recon franchise (which came out this week).

If you want to see the online video equivalent of Black Hawk Down, I recommend checking out Ghost Recon: Alpha. If you like what you see, you can always explore the world more first-hand in Ghost Recon: Future Solider. Either way, you won’t be disappointed by this action packed short film.