Editor's Note: This album was released as two "digital discs," and as such we have preserved the original tracklisting from the publisher.
As games have become a billion-dollar industry, many are concerned that video game soundtracks will come to resemble movie soundtracks too much, destroying the unique "sound" of the game industry. Indeed, mainstream titles like Call of Duty tend to emulate soundtracks of big budget movies rather than those of other games, while less mainstream games hold on to their distinct soundtracks.
Standing as the intersection of these two is the soundtrack for Mass Effect 2, a game which can sound similar to that of movie soundtracks while retaining that unique tone that is recognized as music from a game. Nothing encapsulates this better than the very first track, "The Illusive Man." Having an incredibly memorable, movie-like theme while still having the feel of a video game track, "The Illusive Man" begins the Mass Effect 2 soundtrack with one of the best tracks the series has to offer. It embodies all the wonderment and mystery that the Illusive Man himself represents.
Most of the base soundtrack for Mass Effect 2 involves character/environment themes, with "The Lazarus Project" and "The Normandy Reborn" being excellent remixes of Mass Effect's iconic main theme used to portray different themes, while still representing the rebirth of Commander Shepard and the new opportunities this means for both him and his crew.
By far the best tracks are near the very end: the final mission for the game is one that Shepard and his crew may not return from, and the tracks do an excellent job of conveying the sense of action, tension, and finality that such a mission might have. A combination of remixes of the Collector theme and the main Mass Effect theme, as well as some original music that ties the two together makes the music for the last few missions one of the best, if not the best, music for a final stage I've ever heard.
If you enjoy the Mass Effect series on any level, then you won't go wrong with this soundtrack. While it's missing a few excellent tracks that were in the Combat and Atmosphere soundtracks released later on, it's a great buy, and comes highly recommended.
Reviewed by: Abraham Ashton Liu