The Halo soundtrack series has gone on to be renowned as one of the finest achievements in the industry, so it’s no doubt that one or two songs will get stuck in the heads of many a gamer. Yet over the course of a decade and seven games, who’s to decide what’s the most memorable? The most intriguing, atmospheric and enjoyable moments from the Halo games were crafted by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori, whose composition and production skills were unsurpassed at the time of the ‘Halo Original Soundtrack’ release. Whilst it can be said that any song out of the discography to the series that spans 100+ tracks is enjoyable, some songs definitely leave more of an impression than others:
‘Opening Suite’ – Halo Original Soundtrack (2002)
Where it all began; ‘Opening Suite’ set the tone for Halo in a manner that was as inspiring as it invigorating to listen to today. Use of luscious textures, melodies and instrumentation had been used before in games, but never to the degree as it did here. At this very moment a benchmark was made as to the quality of video game music, and was done so in a magnificently brilliant way. The track, while under three minutes, is well layered and varied, holding the listeners attention from start to finish.
‘Halo Theme MJOLNIR Mix (feat. Steve Vai)’ – Halo 2 Original Soundtrack Volume 1 (2004)
Well, if you put Steve Vai into a song it’s bound to turn some heads. While at the time having Vai on a video-game soundtrack was a massive deal, I feel as if the performance itself definitely helped it become the timeless classic it is today. The combination of the original instrumentation with the new, modern guitar lead was such an ingenious idea that the track has gone on to accompany hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of Youtube videos in the process. To me it’s as though ‘MJOLNIR’ helped to narrow the gap between “soundtrack listening” and “music listening”, with the manner in which it was done executed exceptionally well.
‘Greatest Journey’ – Halo 3 Original Soundtrack (2007)
Starting to notice a trend here? Yes, the main melody from the original game is used on each of the soundtracks in different ways, and although ‘MJOLNIR’ certainly is memorable in it’s performance, ‘Greatest Journey’ is the defining moment of what it means to have music in games in the first place. Musically it ties in themes from the previous games in a much more refined way, as well as standing out in it’s own unique way in terms of creativity. Placed at arguably the most pivotal moment from the original trilogy, ‘Greatest Journey’ is the melody we all found ourselves humming to ourselves even after the adventure had ended.
‘Spirit Of Fire’ – Halo Wars Original Soundtrack (2009)
For the RTS entry in the series, the soundtrack was much more laid back in terms of tonality, yet retained the atmosphere and cohesion previous releases were famous for. ‘Spirit Of Fire’ is seen as the unofficial theme tune to the game, in terms of it’s memorability and it’s quality. Subtle use of brass instruments along with the orchestral setting stands out on this track in particular amongst others in the way they’re layered with one another, creating a feeling of real i tensity while playing the game. ‘Spirit Of Fire’ may not quite be as popular as other entries from the game series, but its still by all means a fantastic track.
‘The Menagerie’ – Halo 3: ODST (Original Soundtrack) (2009)
There may not be many who hold Halo 3: ODST as their favourite moment in the series, yet nonetheless the soundtrack to the game proved to be the most cohesive out of all the releases previously, and built upon the dark overtones created on the original endeavours. ‘The Menagerie’ in particular is the greatest example of thus; the thundering percussion line brings the listener to the forefront of the action. It feels as though this track alone was able to best represent the game in terms of it’s aesthetic and structure. However it’s the sheer memorability of the song that truly allows it to stand out, and thus adds to the credibility of the game itself.
‘Rain’ – Halo 3: ODST (Original Soundtrack) (2009)
An incredibly ethereal moment from the soundtrack, ‘Rain’ successfully captured the atmosphere of the story from the game, as well as adding to the gameplay itself. The soft nature of the track added a nice variety to the soundtrack itself, however what made the song so memorable was how experimental it was in its execution. The use of strings and piano add a warm vibe to the song, with their aesthetic being incredibly accessible. I feel that ‘Rain’ solidified itself as a fan favourite from the game in it’s originality in comparison to other tracks, and its execution.
‘Winter Contingency’ – Halo: Reach (Original Soundtrack) (2010)
Bringing us out on a bang is quite possibly the catchiest songs from the entire series itself, as well as the most breathtaking in terms of production and composition. ‘Winter Contingency’ not only allowed an atmosphere to be made with it’s strong use of dynamics and melodies, but allowed that atmosphere to match that of the game itself. While many of the tracks from any of the soundtracks were capable of doing so, not a single song released so far has had the same effect as ‘Winter Contingency’ did. Clocking in at the twelve-minute mark, the track is nothing short of a masterpiece.
These are just a handful of the memorable moments from the series, but ones that I feel the players will recognise and appreciate the most. Not only are they essential aspects of the game series, they’re much loved pieces of art throughout the history of the industry itself, which is really saying something.
So which of these songs do you find to be the most memorable from the series? Leave a comment below to let us know what you thought was the most memorable song and why.