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Soundtrack review: Halo 2 Anniversary (Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori – 2014)

Game scores

Soundtrack review: Halo 2 Anniversary (Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori – 2014)


The score for the game “Halo 2 Anniversary” was a true team effort. It was composed by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori and adapted and orchestrated by Paul Lipson. With all this I’m expecting a well-polished product that sounds very well.

The main theme is an instant classic for me because if features the amazing Steve Vai. I am a huge fan and his raw and powerful guitar works magic on this cue. After this blistering start, the score settles in a very enjoyable zone. I would call the sound gentle epic. The music isn’t at all aggressive; it’s melodic and soaring. There are the occasional church choirs, while the instrumentation takes its time to build up and the result is very pleasant. I’m hearing a score which relies on melody and depth to make its point, rather than violence or sharp rhythms. There’s a cue called “Punishment” which expresses nothing but love and heartbreak. It’s like I’m listening to the score for a movie about good drowning out evil. The entire first disc of “Halo 2 anniversary” makes me feel like it was written for a historical movie about the beginning of Christianity, not for a first person shooter game. The first disc ends with another wonder cue featuring the magic guitar of Steve Vai: “Genesong” brings all the power of the electric guitar and echoes back to when I first discovered Vai and Joe Satriani…Very high nostalgia value for me.

The beginning of the second disc keeps me inside the warm memory of my first winter in college, because the guitar rhythms of “Breaking the covenant” and “Follow in flight” are similar to the ones I was discovering back then in the mornings before going to classes. Though less melodic, more techno and not as exciting as the first disc, the second one completes what has been a very enjoyable listening experience. “Halo 2 anniversary” is different from most of the game scores out there and will end up as one of my favorites of the year.

Cue rating: 71 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 47 / 87

Album excellence: 54%


Halo Theme Gungnir Mix (feat. Steve Vai)


Not a Number

Kilindini Harbour

Only a Star, Only the Sea

A Spartan Rises


Halo Theme Scorpion Mix


Genesong (feat. Steve Vai)

Breaking the Covenant

Follow In Flight

Into the Belly of the Beast

Cracked Legend

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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