Why you should care about the music in Mass Effect 3

, | Games

It was no great surprise that a film composer like Hans Zimmer would do the soundtrack for a videogame, particularly a big bombastic Call of Duty. Zimmer’s scores for Dark Knight and Thin Red Line are bolder than the average movie score, but most of Zimmer’s soundtracks are exactly the sort of thing you’d think would go with a game like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, in which you couldn’t turn the music off or even down. It was entirely fitting and forgettable, as befits a videogame like Modern Warfare 2. Jerry Bruckheimer would have been proud.

But Clint Mansell scoring a videogame? He’s done his share of forgettable stuff, but those are the exceptions to the rule. I know him best as the genius behind Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain and Requiem for a Dream, both of which have soundtracks as vivid, distinct, haunting, and memorable as the movies themselves (Mansell describes the structure of his Fountain soundrack as a “prog-rock album”). Mansell’s talent was recently buried under all the classic music rightly used in Black Swan. But left to his own devices, you can still hear his unmistakable stamp on an action movie like last year’s underrated Faster.

So for me, when he lets slip that he’s scoring Mass Effect 3, I consider it a hearty stride on videogaming’s road to respectability. I’ll know videogames have really made the big time when longtime Coen brothers composer Carter Burwell signs up. Imagine Portal 2 with a Carter Burwell soundtrack. /swoon

Mansell spills the beans in this interview. It’s a great read, and I love how he gives props to music as diverse as Public Enemy, Godspeed! You! Black! Emperor!, and John Carpenter soundtracks.