The Halo franchise is well known for many innovations. With its unique and immersive story, it is expected that Halo’s musical score must stand on equal ground to match the story’s intensity. From smooth and soothing to regal and grandiose, the various Halo soundtracks promote a wide variety of musical emotions. With the Halo 5: Guardians release fast approaching, here’s a list of our top 10 favorite musical tracks from the Halo series.
Bungie wrote a pretty big musical check with Halo: Combat Evolved, and Halo 2 had to live up to that high standard. The Halo: Combat Evolved theme song was memorable, yet Halo 2 needed to add to its already well-known musical score. I can only imagine the brainstorming meeting composer Martin O’Donnell led to promote his plan for the second musical installment. What makes the chanting monks even more badass? An electric guitar, of course! The story of Halo 2 has picked up as the Covenant discovered Earth’s location and Master Chief must defend humanity’s home planet. With the game’s energy sky high, Bunge revamped the musical score to create an immersive experience. Take your ears on a journey!
Halo Reach Overture/Winter Contingency
One of the memorable marketing slogans for Halo: Reach was “Remember Reach.” Reach’s soundtrack should undeniably be included in that plea. I’ve grouped both Overture and Winter Contingency into one category because they are similar in style and equally enjoyable. Both have a strong potency in setting the tone for the game’s story. Even if, “from the beginning, you know the end,” it does not mean Reach nor the Spartans protecting it will go down without a fight.
Delta Halo Suite
This collection of songs featured in Halo 2 arcs the Master Chief through his battle against the Covenant on the newly discovered second Halo ring. Turns out the Covenant’s Prophets want to blow this one up, too. I know, shocking, right? From smooth and sweeping to bold and moving, this multi faceted track frames the Halo 2 scene flawlessly.
Halo 3: ODST Overture
The only Halo game where you didn’t play as a Spartan super soldier, Halo 3: ODST has you drop “feet first into hell” as the UNSC’s Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. The track sets an introspective tone since you wander the streets of New Mombasa alone, searching for your scattered team in hopes of cleaning up the Covenant invasion and collecting a special package that gives insight into the Covenant’s inner workings.
At Any Cost
After Reach falls and the credits roll, the soundtrack of Halo: Reach continues its brooding tone. With a strong string section contrasted with light piano you begin to feel the immense weight of losing an entire planet. The Noble Team put up a good fight and delivered humanity’s last hope of survival, so here’s some incredible music as a reward.
When 343 Industries took over the Halo reins, the company completely revamped the Halo soundtrack style. With a pretty significant turning point in the Halo story, composer Neil Davidge brought a more ominous and stern sound to the table. The track 117 is featured in game, but also post credits when fans see a glimpse of the Master Chief without armor. Whoa! Look! His eyes!
Siege of Madril
Appearing in nearly every game in the Halo saga (apart from Halo 4), Siege of Madrigal is just as a part of the Halo soundtrack as the Halo theme song itself. The track was originally featured on Bungie’s game Myth, but made cameo appearances in Halo. The song itself is a simple melodic lullaby, repetitive and soothing. What makes Siege of Madrigal so special is the lengths a player must go through to hear the short segment. The track is only unlocked by reaching seemingly unattainable parts of a specific level in each Halo game. Even though the track is evasive, Siege is arguably a staple in Halo lore.
The Ark: Farthest Outpost
The UNSC and Covenant Elite have joined forces to stop the Prophet of Truth from firing the remaining Halo array. The Chief and the Arbiter must traverse the Ark, battling enemy troops swiftly. The track sets the tone for the fight ahead and recalls one of the most unforgettable visual renderings. Remember? The Milky Way galaxy! Wicked!
This ballad is definitely near the top of my personal favorite Halo-songs-list. Smooth and sweeping, this song balances out the guns blazing theme of the Halo franchise with the ever-present real consequences of Master Chief’s actions. Specifically, it recalls the memory of Cortana reminding John-117 not to make a girl a promise, “if you know you can’t keep it.” At this point, there was an unspoken bond of love between Cortana and the Chief, and that scene with grandeur music gave a gentle nod to the players. Who needs a chick flick when you have a 7-foot tall guy in armor and his brilliant and attractive A.I.? Let’s see Nicholas Sparks top that.
One Final Effort
If you ever need some help strapping on your ass-kicking boots in the morning, simply play Halo 3’s this song on repeat. With swelling bravado and major chords as backup, Chief clashes against seemingly endless Covenant forces and vehicles all in an effort to stop the Prophet of Truth from firing the remaining Halo rings. If there was any song as iconic as the Halo theme, it’s One Final Effort. You heard the Chief, let’s finish this fight.
There’s obviously quite a few more songs we could have included in this list, but then our list would probably just continue on forever. Halo Wars has a memorable soundtrack all its own, but we chose to focus on the main Halo series for this feature. Let us know what your favorite pieces of Halo music are in the comments section!
Stay tuned for more Halo coverage as Halo 5’s release date quickly approaches.