On Our Desk - 15

Written by Joe Martin

January 29, 2009 | 08:32

Tags: #all-in-one #bladerunner #fieldrunners #iphone #mass-effect #ost #rc-helicopter #soundtrack

Companies: #akasa #bit-tech #icy-dock

Mass Effect: The Official Soundtrack

Publisher: Sumthing Distribution
UK Price (as reviewed): £8.99 (inc. VAT)
US Price (as reviewed): $13.95 (inc. Tax)

As part of our continuing and ever-burgeoning relationship with the PC version of Mass Effect, which has now devoured Jamie, Harry, Joe and Richard in turn, we thought we’d have a look at the official soundtrack.

After all, we’ve looked at Mass Effect on the Xbox 360 and PC, the downloadable content and one of the two official books, so why not look at the music too? If we do enough maybe they’ll name a planet after us in Mass Effect 2.

The original soundtrack then is exactly what it sounds like – all the music to speak of that’s featured in the game, none of that ‘inspired by’ nonsense.

Games soundtracks seem to be divided in our experience into two very distinct camps. There’s the super-fantastic music that makes great background music no matter what you’re doing, and then there’s the other type which is, at best, barely ignorable even when you hear it in-game. The former category includes such greats as Red Alert, Outcast and Outlaws. The latter includes the likes of 50 Cent: Bulletproof.

On Our Desk - 15 On Our Desk - Mass Effect OST On Our Desk - 15 On Our Desk - Mass Effect OST

The Mass Effect OST however fails to clearly break into either category, instead sitting in the middle without really falling on either side. There are some really great songs on there, but a lot of it seems to run together without any real distinction. That might be something you’d want in a game where you need the tunes to mix together easily, but that isn’t true of an album.

There are some definite highpoints to the expansive soundtrack though – the actual Mass Effect theme is brilliantly put together, for example, as are the tracks Victory and From The Wreckage.

Many of the songs in between though come across mainly as filler, mostly thanks to the remarkably gentle sci-fi feel that composers Jack Wall and Sam Hulick have gone for. On first listen, the tunes are as enrapturing as Sovereign and as perfectly set as a foot in a cast, but as an album it depreciates in replayability almost immediately. It’s not that the music is bad, just that it’s mostly a bit bland.

On Our Desk - 15 On Our Desk - Mass Effect OST

That said though, there is at least a great sense of value for money here thanks to the comprehensive 37-long track-listing and low-cost. It also represents another chance to help promote and support one of the best game developers in the business – something else we can only approve of.

As with all music though, what you'll get out of the Mass Effect soundtrack kind of depends on what you're looking for. If you want something just to fill your ears and deaden the sound of Harry's gloating as he wins yet another game of Half-Life 2: Deathmatch (damn camper) then this will do the job, but if you want to listen to something you can nod your head to, like Command and Conquer's Hell March then you'll want to look elsewhere.

When all is said and done though, the Mass Effect OST is going to be a viable purchase only for hardcore fans of the game, and even then it might not be interesting enough to hold their attention for long. There are just too many other, better soundtracks to listen to instead.

Verdict: As soundtracks go this one feels a little bit empty and isn't nearly as good as some of the other Mass Effect merch, such as the books or collector's edition.
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