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Mass Effect 3 and the Power of a Good Song (and Clint Mansell)

by on February 15, 2012
 

So, the demo hit yesterday, and those of of us that weren’t busy with Valentine’s day got to enjoy it and welcome Shepard back. A melancholy welcome, given what Shepard has to deal with and that we have to wait a month, but a warm welcome nonetheless. Crystal already gave her impressions of the demo, but I want to focus on one aspect of the demo – the music.

For Mass Effect 3, Bioware brought on Golden Globe winning composer Clint Mansell, famous for films like Moon, Black Swan, and The Wrestler. However, Mansell is BEST known for the amazing score to Requiem for a Dream. Not that the scores for Mass Effect 1 and 2 were bad, far from it. But for a finale on the scale of Mass Effect 3, you need someone epic, and Clint Mansell has proved over and over again that epic is his middle name. Clint Epic Mansell. Listen to this:

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The demo for Mass Effect 3 runs the whole spectrum of emotions: hope, fear, joy, anger, intensity, determination. And this is only the demo. The music is amazing throughout, but there is one moment towards the end of the first part of the demo I’d really like to highlight. So if you haven’t played the demo SPOILERS FOR MASS EFFECT 3 DEMO.

The scene in question is at the end of the first half of the demo when Anderson and Shepard are in the trenches fleeing from the Reapers. They are just barely rescued by the Normandy. Shepard gets on the Normandy, and tries to get Anderson to come aboard but he won’t. The Normandy and Shepard fly away and this song starts, and we get to see how far gone the earth is.

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Things are on fire everywhere. Dead bodies lie all over the place. Reapers as far as the eye can see. Shuttle trying to evacuate people get shot down left and right. A boy Shepard tried to save prior is seen getting into a shuttle, giving a moment of hope that he’ll be safe before the shuttle is destroyed. All while Mansell’s score plays. The earth is lost, and Shepard really is the only hope.

This track is amazingly eerie. The quiet piano speaks to the quiet desperation of the planet and the people, while the overpowering, almost klaxon-like bass resonates with the power of the Reapers. It is really a dirge, a funeral song. The piano carries throughout the track and just stays with you. The room may have gotten a little dusty during that scene, and even now listening to it after I’ve played the demo, I still get shivers. Thus is the power of a good song.

So thank you, Mr. Mansell, for giving me yet another reason I can’t wait for March 6th. I look forward to hearing the full score and getting shivers all over again.


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