Review Summary: Driven by an astounding amount of strings and ambiance, Halo's music proves to be one of the most stunning Sci-fi soundtracks ever created.
Greeted with an angelic choir and a vast arrangement of strings, the music of Halo endows the listener or player with a sense of wonder, determination and a sense of purpose. In addition to the fantastic, groundbreaking atmosphere and game play that the player gets absorbed into, throughout the incredible experience the music constantly drives the player to keep pushing on. The sheer scope of Martin’s compositions are masterful not only as a standalone set of songs, but as the perfect soundtrack to humans desperately fighting for their lives in a war against an otherworldly alien alliance known as The Covenant. These superior aliens have a mission to detonate a super weapon of mass destruction known as Halo and in the process they believe that this is their path to salvation according to their religion. Unbeknownst to them, the ring is actually meant to serve as an entrapment of a parasite known as The Flood. However, if these infectious bugs were ever to be released, the ring is meant to act as a weapon of mass destruction and if activated, it essentially destroys The Flood’s food source by means of nuking the galaxy as a last resort. As mentioned here, the stunning magnitude of what takes place in Halo is a masterful achievement in sci-fi video game storytelling and Martin’s jaw dropping take on providing atmosphere by means of strings, choirs, tribal drumming and ambiance only makes the player care about the explosive conflict even more despite having everything having rest on the emotionless shoulders of a super solider known as The Master Chief.
It’s ironic how a game like this features a main character so bland and lifeless as The Master Chief when everything as around him is so fully realized and bursting at the seams with life and the game’s music perhaps injects a staggeringly high percentage of the game with life to astronomical effect. First off, the strings play on of the most important roles in conveying how vital this war proves to be in audio form. Throughout the experience, Martin utilizes an unusual amount of strings never normally seen in a video game at the time this came out. From the fully realized ground fights with The Covenant’s foot soldiers to the quieter moments to let the story breath, strings are certainly one of the most prominent instruments heard in the soundtrack which proves to be quite refreshing and beautiful. However, make no mistake that Martin wasn't afraid to compliment these strings with ambient and electronic compositions to aid The Master Chief and his significantly more interesting sidekick Cortana in the more mysterious moments.
Moments like pushing through the dark depths of an unknown jungle only to find out the horror of The Covenant accidentally releasing The Flood are only made livelier by these types of compositions. The quiet keyboards give the atmosphere a sense of dread and fills up everything that is taking place on the television screen with a fear of the unknown. In addition to these stirring pieces of music, the added tribal drums to some of the compositions enhances the experience to great effect which add a vibe of curiosity to the quieter moments that prove to be a bit less mysterious than the first encounter with The Flood. It’s amazing how these subtle little touches make the music of Halo the most powerful edition to this essential game.
The fact that The Master Chief’s lines are delivered with staggering amounts of lifeless voice acting can easily be overlooked due to how exceptional everything else that happens around him in this game is. Everything that includes a well thought out story, atmosphere and most importantly music, all sets the stage for an incredible experience that is both stirring and emotional. However, out of all of the qualities that make this masterpiece so great, the music can easily be singled out of one of its best. The stunning combination of evocative strings and ambiance happens to be one of the key components to making this such an emotional and exhilarating journey and it is for this reason that Martin stayed with us until the very end of the first trilogy to really drive this story home. When all is said and done, every single play session end will inspire anyone to sit on the menu screen for a while to listen to that choir just one more time.