Throughout the years we’ve seen first-person shooters come and go. Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Destiny are just a few that we acknowledge as some of the biggest. However, growing up I was acquainted with one in particular. A game that took everyone by surprise both within its storytelling, and also by its gameplay.
Halo was the start of a new generation in gaming; the sci-fi storytelling, the gunplay, LAN parties with friends, and most importantly the music. Composed by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori. O’Donnell took the lead for most of the game's music; sought-after emotional representation. Carefully customizing themes based on climatic parts. O’Donnell, of course, did not want to overdo the music because he felt it would hit the player more emotionally when the music was actually present.
This theme, in general, is a fantastic way to open up the game. The Microsoft logo appears, music starts playing, Bungie’s logo pops up and immediately tells you who they are. Bungie has never been coy with their presence in any of their games, and what better way to express who you are than through the music. Shortly thereafter opens up as a dark and ominous screen with only the word Halo. The first time playing this game I had to have sat there, looking and listening, just fantasizing about what Halo was. I had to share this feeling with my friends.
O’Donnell was never afraid of too much percussion. In fact, if you look at it this way, the percussion is the clash between the Covenant and the UNSC. Being a drummer myself, I am fond of the idea that percussion is that additional push to elaborate on a specific feeling in music. Luckily for us, O’Donnell didn’t over do it. A lot of times I feel there can be too much percussion in a song and it really breaks that emotion of a piece. However, with Halo I didn’t get that feeling what so ever.
The triumphant entrance; Master Chief stands proud. The last Spartan thought to be dead. With our eyes toward keeping our home safe, we value our freedom and heritage. Eliminating any evidence that Earth exists. Desperate times make for desperate measures. I am overwhelmed with these feelings as I delve deeper and deeper into this track.
Truth and Reconciliation Suite is a bit longer than all of the other tracks, but I felt a surefire connection with it. It represents a bunch of different aspects that truly reflect what the game is. It shows the pride and strength of humanity. It shows us our enemies, the Covenant as well as the Flood. Fun fact, I do believe that Truth and Reconciliation is a Covenant ship in Halo, too.
Right off the bat this gets into a groove and gets you moving. The Covenant prove to be a force to be reckoned with. Strong-willed, the Covenant seeks one thing; power. Hits on the drums alternating from ear to ear strike me as being surrounded. Forced to dance like the cowboy with his feet being shot at.
One thing I find within this particular theme is that O’Donnell used panning on the drums. He uses it in other pieces too, however, this one stuck out to me more than the rest. A point he makes in telling the audience that the Covenant are relentless, they are persistent, and they will stop at nothing to achieve ultimate power. Surrounding you with hordes of foes, most of which are dumber than a rock, ultimately prove they are willing to sacrifice everything they have to press forward in obtaining power.
Devils...Monsters, a fitting name for the part this theme comes about. My full-on panic mode is triggered, for the Flood has now entered the scene. The Flood is probably one of the most hated enemies in the game. Personally, I wish the sound O’Donnell gave the Flood was a little more intimidating. I say this because the Flood, in game, act very strange and are quick to lunge right at your face. I can’t really put my finger on what is missing, per-say, but I do feel it needs that extra push in believing the Flood are more nightmarish as far as music is concerned.
Another narrow escape for the Master Chief. Near the end of the game, Master Chief and Cortana barely get by as the ring (Halo) is destroyed. Probably one of the coolest phrases in the game is when Master Chief asks Cortana if anyone else had made it out alive. She responds with “Scanning….Nothing, just dust and echoes. We’re all that’s left.” After that, the music says it all. Seeing the destruction, living to fight another day, wishing those who lost their lives a big ol’ RIP.
So, to finally take you to the end. Wrapping up all of the elements within Halo, this piece is so captivating. It is the sincerely at the end of a letter. We are meant to move on with the memories, move on with a newfound pride, and anticipation for the next game in the series. Saying that may be a little rhetorical, but I like to position myself as if it is the first time playing the game.
Thanks for sticking around! Halo was one of my favorite games growing up, and it was nice to reminisce listening to the wonderful work O’Donnell had done. It was sad to see him let go from Bungie years back just before Destiny had been released. I will leave you with this, though. Martin O’Donnell composed the music for the Flintstones Vitamin commercial, featuring his two daughters as voices to the children’s choir. Pretty cool, right?