Halo Just Isn’t the Same Without Martin O’Donnell

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.

  • Ryan C. Stacy

    The Halo 4 soundtrack was, indeed, VERY different. But, as stated, it went with quite a different Halo game. To me, Halo 4 felt more cinematically inclined. Almost as if it were closer to an emotional movie (not at all in a bad way). Not that previous Halo games didn’t get emotional (Man tears when Chief reunites with Cortana in Halo 3…), but I think that the soundtrack of 4 meshed well with the feel.

    I LOVED O’Donnell’s work. I have every Halo OST on my iPod, and have looped through their hours countless times. That being said, I probably have also listened through the Halo 4 OST just as much. Davidge and Jinnouchi did a wonderful job, in my opinion.

    I love both the old and new, but if it came down to it, yes, I prefer O’Donnell. I do wish Davidge had placed more nods to him in his work, even if they were only cameos of the original theme. However, I think 343 deserves a ton of credit for doing something different, rather than just taking Bungie’s template word for word. I believe 343 succeeded, and I personally consider Halo 4 a masterpiece, soundtrack and all.

  • Kyle Bailey

    Disagree completely. I felt that Davidge’s score was phenomenal in the way it evoked different emotions, and consistently added to the game’s atmosphere. I’m a MASSIVE O’Donnell fan, and I have every single OST from every Halo game, but since 343 is taking Halo in THEIR direction, it works on many different levels to have the music follow suit.

    It’s definitely going to be different, bu that doesn’t mean that it can’t still be epic and memorable.

  • Alex

    The audio lead should take the composing lead, (117, best track).
    Also balance those levels

  • Roger B

    Oddly enough, I’ve played Davidge’s work more from Spotify than Marty’s. Perhaps Neil’s is more suited to listening while at work?

  • kevin

    Please O’DONNELL was good but some people are acting like he’s passed,he just moved onto a different Galaxy. Deal with it

  • Delta

    I’m a huge halo fan and I don’t know why but I don’t like halo 4 at all I bought the collector edition for Christ sake I mean even the little things
    – maps
    – helmet designs
    – armors aren’t memorable
    – the new loudout system
    – firefight removed for spartan ops
    -shitty tablet exclusive spinoff
    Just the overal feel doesn’t feel like past halo games
    The only things I like about the game is the music (arrival is awesome) and while i said the maps and helmets are bad it’s half and half
    How am i still playing reach
    I mean I have to deal with people that exploit the fucking map cause they stopped patching it

  • Delta

    Jesus Christ how is it I found more entertainment in bo2

  • Delta

    Oh shit I forgot to say rant incoming