Right around the end of the year we always get to vote for our most loved songs for a radio station called “Radio 2”. I always try to make an effort of selecting my all-time favourites, my annual favourites and some new favourite songs. There are always a couple of videogame songs among them and for good reason; videogame soundtracks have evolved so much over the years and some of them are simply fantastic works of art. Whether they’re composed by just a single person, and written digitally, or performed by entire orchestras, there’s a whole bunch I love and today I’d love to share one of them with you, for your own listening pleasure!
This will be a recurring topic on my blog, because I love videogames and I love music. Sometimes it might be as part of a larger review, but I can share so much more about a single soundtrack if I dedicate an entire blog article to it, that this might just be the best way to go about it. So, let’s get started on the very first one!
Mass Effect Trilogy
One of my favourite Bioware game series of all times, the Mass Effect Trilogy has so much atmosphere and the story is one of the best I know for any medium. Despite the ending not being as grand as Bioware had promised it would be, I still had at least two complete playthroughs of the entire trilogy. One on normal difficulty as Paragon and another run on Insane as a Renegade. I still think Mass Effect 2 is the best part of the entire trilogy and I absolutely hated the parts in the first entry where you control the Mako vehicle, with its abysmal control scheme. But still, the battles were intense and the story has greatly inspired me as a writer as well.
When it comes to the soundtrack for these games composer Jack Wall has created a great mix of synthesizer heavy songs and bombastic orchestral music. The overall result is a soundtrack that directly identifies as scifi music to my ears. It creates the perfect atmosphere of being in a dark universe with an enemy that is seemingly impossible to defeat. The songs have something mysterious about them, but can range from intense battle songs to simple atmospheric soundscapes, or songs that give you a feeling that you’re exploring an unknown universe full of wonders.
While the entire soundtrack is great, there are of course some tracks that have a special place in my heart. I’ve decided not to make a top ten out of them, and all tracks are in chronological order in which they appear on the soundtrack on YouTube.
- The Citadel
The first time you visit the Citadel its size can feel overwhelming. There’s a sense of wonder and to me it also symbolises hope that it is possible for us to coexist with one another. Of course, being a work of fiction, the Citadel houses a lot of different alien species, but I always thought that if that were possible, the same should be true for Humanity.
- Virmire Ride
This is one of those songs that is heavy on the synthesizers and so typical of the Mass Effect soundtrack. It sounds a little bit like an 80s action movie theme and has something dark and ominous about it. A great track for writing action sequences on!
- Uncharted Worlds
This theme plays when you open the galaxy map in the game and decide where to head for your next mission. It’s one of the most memorable themes and really manages to capture that feeling of wonder at just how big the galaxy really is, for me. It gives us a sense of exploration and curiosity at what lies at our next destination.
When I was younger, I used to listen to a lot of synthesizer music. Artists like Vangelis and The Alan Parsons Project. This song reminds me a lot of those greatest hits albums and it feels more like a soundscape, as I described earlier, than a song. It manages to set a great atmosphere.
- The Elusive Man
The Elusive Man is a great character who first came into the story in Mass Effect 2. He’s a mysterious character whose motives are quite shady. This song goes along so well with the “office” of the Elusive Man with the star in the background and the single chair in a large, clean room. Martin Sheen is the voice actor for the Elusive Man and that’s just a great match for this shady character.
Thane was definitely among the top of my favourite companions in Mass Effect 2. His background story is so extremely tragic, but his motivations for doing what he does are great. His song is a pretty long one with a slow build up, and a dark, sinister undertone. This is definitely one of my favourite songs from Mass Effect 2.
- Leaving Earth
The start of Mass Effect 3 is great and throws you directly into the action. Leaving Earth is one of those songs that really help to swell the player’s emotions as they’re forced to leave the planet and search for help across the galaxy.
- A Future for the Krogan
This song always gives me the chills. Turn up the volume and enjoy every moment of it! Especially the vocals in this song are great. This song feels like it’s about hope, but it still has a very dark undertone. I love the Krogan as a race in the games and the way their story develops over the course of the trilogy is great, plus we finally get to see a female Krogan in ME3, which was a really nice and welcome addition to the story arc.
- I Was Lost Without You
This song starts off on a really sad note, but swells up and becomes something so beautiful. To me this song represents hope of finding someone you lost and then finding that person after a perilous journey. One of the absolute best songs to write along to, if you’re writing a sad scene.
- An end once and for all
One of the last soundtrack songs and definitely a high note as well. It’s the journey finally coming to its conclusion and what a road it has been! Mass Effect is definitely among my favourite game series from the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era and the soundtrack is really phenomenal. This song is a testament to the series’ greatness and all of the fond memories I have of it.
Videogame soundtracks are all part of the experience and I still have very fond memories of playing Mass Effect to this day, mostly because of how great the soundtrack is able to set the stage for the rest of the game, its story and environments. I put this soundtrack and some of its songs on repeat for long writing sessions just to get into the mood.
I hope you liked this post and I’ll definitely look at more soundtracks and covers soon!