Top 25 Soundtracks 2011: Number 4

Number 4: Halo: ODST

Martin O' Donnell is a strong force for the music side of the gaming industry. While he toiled away at Bungie for some time, it wasn't until Bungie released Halo that he was catapulted into the spotlight. Halo's sudden popularity on the console scene launched the number of listeners he had garnered to far past what it had been. But it also gave rise to a more interesting effect.

Much like Mitsuda's success with Chrono Trigger's soundtrack lead him to work on other titles for Square, O' Donnell's success with Halo, as well as Bungie's gave him a lot more freedom to work with when the next game in the series came. The first Halo game was mostly synthetic music. The second, a lot less so. The third...well by that time he could have hired the symphony orchestra's from several states and still had cash to spare for production, so he was pretty free to do what he wanted. Except deviate too far from the Halo sound he'd created. It was too iconic. Not that the result wasn't bad, (Number 14 this year) it was incredible. But when Bungie decided to make a Halo spin-off following the experiences of a ODST squad member cut off from his unit, O' Donnell had a whole new direction to take Halo.

Take it he did, and the resultant soundtrack isn't just incredible, its phenomenal. It still sounds like O' Donnell, with his heavy bass/drum signatures, and it sounds a bit like Halo (perhaps because his own sound is now synonymous with the series), but for all intents and purposes ODST is something very different and very new. You won't find the famous Gregorian choir here, at least not for more then a minute total through the entirety.

Interestingly enough, O' Donnell took the soundtrack for ODST in a very different direction: Film Noir. Film Noir is the name for a style of cinema popularized after WWII. You might know it better as the classic detective story. Lots of hard shadows, a hard boiled detective, and a distinctive soundtrack, usually a slow jazz styled sound. Since ODST followed the detetive-like events of The Rookie searching for clues to the whereabouts of his squad in an enemy occupied city, O' Donnell chose to blend his own style with the slow lonely jazz of Noir style music.

 The result was something that was about as unexpected by the general public and gamers as it was well received. ODST is skilled on many, many levels. It's composition is superb, with lines of melodies sliding around one another and interacting with flawless skill. The sound is rich and complex, and the tune is both soft enough to slip into your unconscious one moment, yet powerful and intense the next. It also manages to bring unexpected emotions out of tunes you normally wouldn't have expected to make you pay attention. You wouldn't expect this to be a song that plays during an intense firefight, but O' Donnell made it work.

ODST is a top notch soundtrack, and the first on this list to score so highly it broke past a score of 5. It takes a dead style of music, revitalizes it and brings it back to the modern era, and creates one of the best, unique, and most complex soundtracks you'll ever hear. And to those of you who cry foul because it's a Halo title, I just have this to say: You're not doing yourself any favors by missing out on O' Donnell's music.

Enjoyment: 5
Stand Alone Quality: 4.75
Composition: 4.5
Emotional Reaction: 5
Non-Gamer Enjoyment:  1
Nostalgia: 0
TOTAL: 5.06

Number 4--Halo: ODST by Martin O' Donnell
Number 8--Sonic Colors by Various
Number 10--Final Fantasy: The Crystal Chronicles by Kumi Tanioka

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