Mass Effect 2: Combat Additional Videogame Score


Review by · August 3, 2012

I’m not sure why Mass Effect’s music hasn’t been as lauded as it deserves. Perhaps it’s because other elements of the game are more immediately interesting (or controversial). I have another idea, however, that at least pertains to the battle music: combat is simply too intense. I don’t remember hearing much music during Mass Effect 2’s combat sequences and I might wonder if there was any music at all if there weren’t fourteen tracks here that say otherwise. Thankfully, BioWare has collected their ME2 battle music in a neat package so we can all appreciate it without worrying about incoming husks.

Most of the music on this album isn’t terrifically innovative and some of it sounds too similar. Rapid synth beats replace the usual insistence on percussion in battle music, and there are usually some underlying melodies. The modulated synthesizers draw one’s ear the most, and I prefer them to the typical flurry of drum blows found in most Western RPGs. Despite a lack of variety, each track ultimately does the job of maintaining a sense of urgency and intensity.

The first track, “Gunship Battle,” actually might surprise some listeners with its conspicuous vocals, not something common in the Mass Effect trilogy’s soundtracks. And that’s not the only one to use ethereal vocals; “Mother vs. Daughter” does as well. This might seem clichéd in today’s music scene, but not necessarily in this context; I expect vocal arias in fantasy, but not in science fiction. “Collector Fever” has a nice rhythm and “Testing Memories” invokes a popular ME musical theme, that descending slide of synth beeps that can bring a shiver to a fan’s spine.

“Infiltration” has a nice build to a thrilling and inspiring crescendo, and “Convincing Jack” includes some nice strings and a few neat flourishes. A few tracks just don’t amount to much, however, such as “Escape From Omega” and “Grunt Awakens,” but neither is outright bad. From the final confrontation, “The Human Reaper” unfortunately isn’t one of the better tracks, sounding a tad too generic and akin to mediocre action movie reveals. “The Swarms – Shepard’s End” has an amazing background of whiny strings that perfectly evoke the titular swarms.

“The Final Reckoning,” the final piece on the album, bears striking resemblance to various other tracks on the OST, but hearing ME2’s main theme paired with the overall trilogy’s theme is a perfect and wondrous conclusion. This isn’t groundbreaking music, but I can see gamers replacing the dull battle music of a lesser game with ME2’s thrilling synth-based sound.

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Kyle E. Miller

Kyle E. Miller

Over his eight years with the site, Kyle would review more games than we could count. As a site with a definite JRPG slant, his take on WRPGs was invaluable. During his last years here, he rose as high as Managing Editor, before leaving to pursue his dreams.