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Halo: Reach by Martin O'Donnell & Michael Salvatori (Review)

posted Oct 4, 2010, 10:50 PM by Kaya Savas

Halo is one of the biggest game franchises in history. It is an old fashioned first person shooter executed in a way that gives gamers what they want; an entertaining and fun shooter. Now, what does every huge game franchise have? An intense and memorable score that holds the whole experience together. In gaming history we have witnessed some amazing music come to be. We have come a long way from 8-bit Super Mario. Today's game scores are bigger and more complex than some film scores. Look at the Metal Gear franchise, Final Fantasy, Medal Of Honor, Silent Hill, Call Of Duty and yes Halo. Halo's scores over the years have been handled by Martin O'Donnell & Michael Salvatori.

Halo: Reach marks Bungie's farewell to the franchise. This is also the final score O'Donnell and Salvatori will be composing for the Halo franchise. So, did they go out with a bang? In a word, no. Halo's scores have always to me been very thematic upfront and then lacking in the full body experience. Even though they lack emotional filler they are always entertaining and fun and have a unique style. The Halo sound is very unique to the Halo universe. The score to Halo 3 in my opinion was really good. Not great, but really good. This time around the experience is just okay.

For Halo 3 they really treated the score as a storytelling element, at this point the score has mostly become background noise. There is almost zero grounding thematic material, and what thematic material that's there ends up being unoriginal. I'm not just saying that either. Listen to the first track "Overture" and then listen to the first track to Harry Gregson-Williams' Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time score. The themes are pretty much identical. The score overall is flat and the tracks on this 2 disc set are pretty much looped background score.

I don't know if the two just ran out steam or what, but the score is a very static experience. It doesn't feel like the 3rd one did and definitely doesn't have the lasting effect that it should for being a final chapter. The use of electric guitar cheapens the score even more so making it feel like some rock band took a crack at scoring. The last track "We Remember" is actually pretty bad if that's supposed to be the last thing Halo fans have to remember the franchise.  All in all this is a very standard scoring attempt. It's disappointing considering the amount of money Microsoft sinks into this franchise and that it was supposed to be one last hurrah.