Everyone knows of Halo, be you an Xbox player, a PlayStation fan, a PC gamer or a Nintendo enthusiast. Whether gamers like it or not, Halo is one of the most influential franchises in the history of gaming, selling off millions of copies world-wide. It was also responsible for saving the first Xbox from near death, an important feat in the industry.
One of Halo’s most unique, defining components was its soundtrack. Composed by Marty O’Donnell, a master of video game music, it oozed so many different, adult emotions that some thought impossible in a first person shooter. As Halo was very much the love child of Joe Staten, Jason Jones and O’Donnell, he devoted resources to the soundtrack as it would play a key part in reinforcing the mood of the game and build a powerful, believable atmosphere that ended up pulling gamers in like a tornado. While many protest that Halo deserves any merit or remembrance, one thing that is undeniable is how special the musical score is.
However, when 343 Industries took over Halo, O’Donnell didn’t cross over to compose the soundtrack. Instead, Neil Davidge took on the role, bringing his experience from working as a music porducer at Massive Attack. He produced a strong, credible musical score for the game. Was it impressive? Definitely. But did it feel like a Halo soundtrack? Not in the slightest. Unfortunately, Davidge’s work barely reflected the original masterpiece from O’Donnell. While this is understandable to a degree, as 343 Industries wanted to create a new identity for Halo 4, detached from the previous Bungie titles, the soundtrack didn’t have the same addictive thrill of the originals. O’Donnell’s work was like a drug; you were possessed and enthralled. Davidge’s was more like a bar of chocolate; tasty, nice for a while, but it left no hunger for more.
Halo 4 was by no means similar to the original trilogy in terms of actual content but it wouldn’t have gone amiss to follow the blue-prints laid out by O’Donnell to build some form of continuity in the franchise’s atmosphere. With Halo: ODST, O’Donnell proved that is was absolutely possible to have a Halo game with a new face while it still retained a score with completely new tracks that feel as though they belong to the universe.
For any of you that agree, let’s hope that Halo 5’s soundtrack is more relatable than the last. Let us know your opinion on the matter in the comments section.