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Why we should all be excited Clint Mansell is scoring Mass Effect 3

I could just end the blog post here really. All I really need to justify my argument is the above post. Clint Mansell is capable of writing music that is beautiful, epic, subtle, moving and exciting in equal measure. His best known work is with Darren Aronofsky, who has made some of my favourite films of recent years, which of course include the ultra-depressing downward spiral of drug addiction that is Requiem For Dream. For that film he wrote Lux Aeterna, which has now become incredibly famous, appearing in plenty of movie trailers and Sky football programs, given how epic and emotional football obviously ISN’T.

I’m guessing there will be plenty of people incredibly upset by the news that Jack Wall and Sam Hulick won’t be scoring this game’s soundtrack, because everything is either INCREDIBLY AMAZING or SERIOUSLY AWFUL in the videogame industry. There are no shades of grey.

I, for one, welcome the change. I absolutely adored the music in the first Mass Effect. Its dark electornica and swirling synths were exactly my cup of tea, mixing heavy beats with Vangelis-esque vibes. I liked it so much I actually put the soundtrack on my iPod (and the galaxy map music was my ring tone for a time). There was something brilliantly spacey about the sound, something that fit the tone and aesthetic of the game perfectly. As such, I was naturally excited about the music in Mass Effect 2.

I have to admit to being let down. The music was more bombastic, more orchestral, and a little too obvious, if I want to make myself sound like a massive twat. It lacked the darker edginess of the first game. You know the way sequels to a movie tend to suck? The way the characters, narrative and plot are always more overblown and too eager to find new ways to excite? I kind of felt like that about the soundtrack. At times I barely even noticed it was there. I found myself enjoying the music more when listening to Shepard’s CD player or whatever the futuristic equivalent is in his/her cabin, which contains tracks from the from the first Mass Effect.

I feel like the series needed some new blood to get back that unique sound I heard in the first game, and Clint Mansell is certainly up to the task. his score for space thriller Moon contains much of the same kind of dark energy that permeated Mass Effect 1 – a bit more of that enigmatic and foreboding music that made its score feel so different.

Mansell has enough of a range, and enough experience, to do the game and its subject matter justice. It’s true that he’s never worked on a videogame score before, and working with interactive entertainment is a great deal different to working to a locked image as in film or television. But Woody Elm and Bill Jackson hadn’t ever worked with videogames before, and their dynamic score for Red Dead Redemption was one of last year’s best. You could bring up the fact Mansell also did the Doom soundtrack I guess, and that is certainly not his best work. In fact I’m listening to it now and it’s terrible, and I really hope he doesn’t take that kind of approach for Mass Effect 3. Let’s hope he stays more along the lines of this:

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  • Sean

    I follow this guys work, and the scores for Moon and The Fountain are supurb.

    A pleasant surprise.