Much like the game's namesake soldiers, the soundtrack album for "Halo 3: ODST" performed a surprise, precision insertion onto my desk last week. Even though I had exactly zero hands-on time with ODST yet, all of about 0.7 seconds passed before I spun up the CD to hear what Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori had created for the game's audio ammunition. The big question I had was, since ODST is a different take on the Halo-verse, how would this translate into the music? We've even got samples prepared to drop, in this spoiler free review.
There's no spoiler warning needed here because I am not going to list any track names that might give any of the story away, though I will say that there doesn't seem to be much that can be gleaned from them anyway. Since you aren't playing as Master Chief this time, it goes without saying that Halo 3: ODST will be a different yet familiar game play experience, so it should come as no surprise that ODST's music is different yet familiar. Don't worry though, O'Donnell and Salvatori have not gone and created an Auto-Tuned Halo Choir monstrosity. This is most definitely Halo music, just in a different mode.
To hear more clips and see the rest of my Halo 3: ODST soundtrack review, click the cut below.
There are appropriately percussive, militaristic themes and there are more moody, "film noir" inspired pieces. This is best demonstrated by the inclusion of a lone saxophone in places, which is unique to the overall Halo-sound and I am interested to see how it fits in the game itself. I'm fairly certain I hear extensions of ideas of Halo 3's piano themes within it as well.
The most familiar sonic elements you will hear are in the drums. There is something about O'Donnell's use of percussive tones in his Halo compositions that instantly tells you upon first listen, "This is music from Halo". During a couple of the pieces, the composers get their rock on, with some killer bass lines (listen to track 5 on disc 1 while wearing headphones to appreciate the full effect) and short, but very appropriate deployments of electric guitar.
As I've stated in previous reviews, what I am most impressed by is when video game music is listenable on its own, away from the game for which it was composed. While some of the more atmospheric and alien themed pieces sound as if they would be better kept tied to the game's visuals, the overwhelming majority of ODST's music is an immensely original and enjoyable listening experience, even after you have set down your controller and shut off your 360.
With the release of Halo 3: ODST, the team at Sumthing Else Music continues their masterful streak of releasing the high quality soundtrack albums which video game music connoisseurs crave. In similar fashion to earlier Halo music releases, the album is set up in suites of musical themes. In all, there are 68 unique pieces of music across the expansive two CD set, creating an ODST symphony if you will. At this point, there has been so much music composed for the five published Halo games that it would not be hard to create a live Halo Symphony performance (hint hint Mr. O'Donnell!). The physical disc is available for pre-order now at Amazon. If you prefer your music in pure digital form, Sumthing Else has made the album available for download from SumthingDigital.com.
So who is this album for? If you are a Halotaku, you have already pre-ordered it. Same goes for hardcore game music fans. If you are new to Halo or listening to game music in general, this album is a perfect entry point into this particular music space. A special thank you to Greg O'Connor-Read and Sumthing Else Music for hooking G4TV.com up with these four pieces of music from the Halo 3: ODST soundtrack for your enjoyment.