Game Music: Mass Effect

Mass Effect OST CoverAfter introducing Jack Wall last week it would be insanity not to follow up with another of his scores, and perhaps my favourite game soundtrack of all time. Fitting, since it’s for one of the greatest games ever created. I am referring, of course, to Mass Effect.

Mass Effect was undoubtedly a ground-breaking game, and possibly the high point of BioWare’s storytelling art. Certainly they seemed to drop the ball on the sequels, the quality dropping from supreme to merely great. But even at its worst, the storytelling in the Mass Effect trilogy was something other games could only envy.

The soundtrack to Mass Effect fits the story, the style and the vision perfectly, with composers Jack Wall and Sam Hulick creating a score that crosses a range of styles while always retaining a unified, recognisable theme. From the opening theme that effortlessly sets the tone for the entire series, the harsh martial tones of the villain’s motif, the ambience of the locations you’ll visit, whether proud Citadel or frozen Noveria, to the triumph of the Spectre Induction, this score is many things yet always Mass Effect.

The two standout tracks, for me, are the haunting, ancient and alien Vigil, startlingly restful and disconnected from the violence and fatalism of the rest of the game – ironic as it represents the last roll of the dice for a people that failed in the task that you as Commander Shepard have taken on. Then there is “From the Wreckage”, a shameless piece of emotional manipulation that – having played the game to completion and seeing the events it underpins – never fails to raise goosebumps.

[Oddly, the cover shows Commander Shepard to be a man. A lot of people seem to make that mistake – Shepard is quite clearly a women, even if the cover artist, the marketing department and 82% of players seem to think otherwise. Weird.]

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