Gaming in Stereo: Best of 2012 Day 5



It all comes down to this, and to those who know me I have ranted and raved about this track. My pick for the best track of 2012 is Neil Davidge “Arrival” from Halo 4. This track sent me in the other direc­tion from yes­ter­days track. “Arrival” brought out the best in me. It is not the most epic track on the Offi­cial Sound­track, nor is it the most emo­tional track; but the way it comes together in con­text of where it is in the game I have had no bet­ter gam­ing moment this past year. I said yes­ter­day that Mass Effect 3, in my mind, was the best game of 2012, but the best expe­ri­ence I had was the final chap­ter of Halo4’s story.

You land on the Didact’s ship that is car­ry­ing the com­poser. You make your way to com­poser where the Didact stands ready yo unleash it on Earth, tak­ing out human­ity that doesn’t deserve the man­tle that was placed before them. This turns into the last fight of the game, as the Didact acti­vates the com­poser, Mas­ter Chief and what is men­tally left of Cor­tana, fight to stop the Didact. This is where the track begins to play. Dur­ing the fight, you will fight a many Knights, Crawlers, and Watch­ers; all while Cor­tana rips her­self apart to stop the com­poser. I have played this sec­tion solo and in co-op, and every time I play this sec­tion, I tune every­thing out, and fight as hard as I can. I have never had a game come together so well at the point I turn down my friends chat­ter, turn up the game vol­ume and loose myself. I have lis­tened to track more times than I can count, in the car, at work, while I am typ­ing this, in the shower even; and it just keeps get­ting better.

I have heard some chat­ter that peo­ple didn’t like the way Davidge took the music, and it did vary to a good degree away from what Mar­tin O’Donnell did over the years with Halo, but this is my favorite Halo sound­track to date. Not to say any­thing against Marty’s score, I love it all the same, though Reach I could give or take. I feel with Halo 4, they were given the resources to “put on the big boy pants” and have a truly epic and even more emo­tional sound­track, while adding a more dis­tinct elec­tronic ele­ment to it. 343 wanted to take Halo 4 in a new direc­tion while retain­ing what made Halo, “Halo”. I feel this sound­track can best describe that tran­si­tion, espe­cially this track. I know Bungie has tried to evoke emo­tion in the series, espe­cially in 3, ODST, and Reach; to a less degree it worked. Halo 4, on the other hand, I have felt more attached to the char­ac­ters and the hell Cor­tana and Chief were expe­ri­enc­ing. Mas­ter Chief, bread sol­dier, no per­son­al­ity, more or less a robot, finally find­ing his human­ity. Cor­tana, an AI, always hav­ing a quip on hand, fac­ing mor­tal­ity, she becomes more than a machine. Mean­while, human­ity sits on anni­hi­la­tion, from a threat thought long dead. “Arrival”, I feel all this emo­tion cul­mi­nates into one last fight, “one final effort”, a chance a find­ing one­self and our right­ful place in the galaxy.

Yes, I know I am a bit of a Halo fan, but in no way did this influ­ence my deci­sion. I am a pro­fes­sional after all, I even said Mass Effect 3 was the bet­ter game, but even in all my gam­ing trav­els this past year, no game made me cut out every­thing to hear a track more than Halo 4. Enjoy what I feel was the defin­i­tive track of 2012.

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