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06/11/2013

Sounds of Escapism: Mass Effect

06/11/2013 | By | No Comments

Track: M4, pt2

Artist: Faunts

Game: Mass Effect

Platform: Xbox 360

Year: 2007

Warning! The following contains MASSIVE spoilers for the Mass Effect trilogy. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE FINISHED THE SERIES. Thanks.

As end credits music goes, you can’t get much better than this.

When I was approaching the end of Mass Effect a friend told me that I would love the conclusion. He wasn’t wrong. For me, the end of the game was, in the vein of cheesy movie poster testimonials, a rollercoaster thrill ride. Not that such an exciting denouement excused the incredibly cheesy shot of my Shepard looking all heroic, planet Earth in the background. But what the hell, BioWare did enough to get away with it, especially as I had the pleasure of then being able to sit back, listen to this track and think, “Wow… Now that was a great game!” It’s a feeling I get all too rarely these days, which is a shame. Perhaps there just aren’t as many great games or, more likely, I’ve become a lot harder to please.

I didn’t actually play Mass Effect until the second game in the series was released, so I was lucky enough to be able to play them both back-to-back without a three-year wait. So, the following night I loaded up Mass Effect 2 and experienced that opener.

Oh my god.

I think the start of that game will go down as one of the biggest mind-f***s ever. There was the shock of seeing the people I’d only just got to know and care about running for the escape pods, and the fact that I was about to lose a ship I’d also grown quite attached to. At least Shepard would come out of it unscathed – I mean, who in their right mind would kill off the hero at the start of this game? Oh. Okay. That was… Unexpected.

What does this all have to do with the end title track from the first game? It’s those lyrics. Listen to them. If you ask me, they’re creepily prophetic in light of the start of the second game.

“I… I’ve wondered about you, where will you be when this is through…?”

“And I need you to recover, because I can’t make it on my own…”

20131113-[SoE]-ME2

At first I didn’t know if this was intentional or if it was just someone at BioWare thinking that it was just a cool track. It does make me wonder if, during the long wait for Mass Effect 2, anyone suspected that those lyrics may be a kind of spooky premonition of what was to come? Or were we all just caught up in that “Wow, that was fun” moment?

Another thing that struck me upon listening to that track again was its sheer length – it’s over eight minutes long! I hate it when the music stops and the credits keep rolling for what seems like ages (Ubisoft, I look in your direction). How hard would it be to commission a piece of music that covered the entire credits? Or to just edit together a piece from the game’s OST? Silent credit rolls are just lazy. I should know, I’ve done it myself in the past on my own machinima (and then kicked myself for it later). I think that’s what made me assume that M4, Pt2 was made for Mass Effect’s soundtrack, but a little research proved me wrong.

Faunts are an electronic rock band from Canada and the track is from an EP they released in 2006. According to Wikipedia, the EP was largely unknown until that track was used for Mass Effect and, “A sizeable new audience was exposed to Faunts’ moody, subdued melodies”. Well, that’s the power of gaming for you! And still non-gamers look down on our past time! It seems that the original track was a more radio-friendly length of 4:19, and the original, slightly creepy video can be seen here. I’m pretty sure it will resonate with any Halo players reading.

As if in an attempt to reference the triumphant end of the first game, BioWare also used a Faunts track for the end credits of Mass Effect 3. But not even Faunts could save the end of that game. (Hush now, the less said about that the better.)

Please feel free to share your own thoughts or memories of the end of Mass Effect and this track in the comments. See you next time and thanks for reading!

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