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E3 2010: Can the Halo: Reach soundtrack really be as bad as it seems?

The soundtrackwas appaling. Yeah, we know, crap music in a Halo game just doesn't happen. But it has. Soread on as I take a closer look and draw some comparisons to properly show you what I mean. C'mon, let's all get geeky about game music and have a big old debate. You know you love that.

Above: Spin-off ODST had a very different, but wonderfully fitting, synthy, noir-ish soundtrack

Now regular readers will know that I'm no great fan of the Halo series, but one thing I have always loved about it is the quality of its soundtracks. In Martin O' Donnell, Bungie has one of the best western game music composers around, and his richly majestic, rousingly percussive themes have always been one of the high points of the Halo games.

He's composing the Reach soundtrack too, andis openlytaking a darker, grittier direction to suit the game's story and themes. But going off what we heard yesterday - and the rest of the game may well not sound similar - that direction is more a case of darker, cheesier. Take a few minutes, turn your volume up, and soak up these classic Halo tracks for some context.

Mournful and reflective, but with a stunning spark of life and hope that then tears into one of the most rousing middle-sections in game music. Good stuff.

Moody, purposeful, then rolling straight into soaring, indignant exhileration. It's an absolute stunner.

A tentative sense of the unknown, a hint of self-doubt and fragility, then celebratory bombast and the ethereal full-stop that's rightly one of the most iconic musical phrases in the medium.

But now we have this:

Did your ears just vomit a little bit? Mine did. It starts out really well, absolutely dripping with the sadness and sense of arcane mystery that works so well with the series. But then at 0:32, it goes pioneeringly tits up. Understand that I'm not somekind of pro-orchestra zealot. My music collection at home is packed out with experimental noises of every genre you can think of. Butthe battle theme in the video above is just bad. And sadly, it's the same one that played in-game during yesterday's demo.

It's the kind of outdated, plastic, corporate industrial nu-metal cheese that wentextinct during the late '90s. It sounds like something even Limb Bizkit would have left on the cutting room floor. It's the kind of thing that was endlessly churned out by a depressing string of cheap-sounding, me-toowannabes when Marilyn Manson and The Prodigy first hit hit big in the mainstream, and I can't hear it without imagining some skinny white guy in baggy trousersrapping badly about the angst of life in the suburbs.

In short, it's misguided, anachronistic, and badly-observed. I'm all for the blending of electronica with more traditional sounds. I love it. But as I said, this is just bad, and it cheapened the whole Reach demo for me. But tell me what you think. How do you feel about the Halo series' music as a whole? Would you welcomea change in direction? And would you want this to be it? Or do you think that more music of this ilk would be a massive mis-step on O' Donnell's part? As ever, the comments, as well as ourFacebookandTwitterportals, await your opinions.

Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.