The time is nearing 2:00am on a Wednesday morning. Outside is dark, a swirling mist of rain and blurred lights. As I stare out the window, the white light from my laptop illuminates my face. Around me, a room that is as quiet as the deserted roads and parking lots I see from my window. This is the scene that surrounds me as I listen to the 2009 Halo 3: ODST Original Soundtrack. Anyone who knows me well knows that I love the Halo series, especially the music that surrounds it.

Halo has a special place in my heart for its storytelling dynamics and the music that builds and drives the plot further. The composer, Marty O’Donnell, is one of my music idols. His work is inspiring and the sounds he creates across the games gives the story its character. It gives the characters purpose. All of the games reflect this in their soundtrack. But one game had a soundtrack different from the others.

Halo 3: ODST and its soundtrack

The Halo 3: ODST soundtrack places you in the feet of the rookie ODST soldier from the Halo series. Through the soundtrack, you join the rookie as you travel through an ominous, abandoned skyline. You are voyaging through the city, searching for clues. Answers for what has happened. Answers for where to go next.

The soundtrack takes on a film noir approach, unlike other Halo soundtracks. It is fitting for this game as it essentially plays itself as a mystery. Halo 3: ODST sometimes gets hate for its campaign, but it is a complex story that requires deep thinking and a craving for a solution. The soundtrack aides in this and helps drive the story forward.

Even when you listen to the soundtrack outside of the context of the game, it fits many situations. Whether you’re catching up on a backlog of tasks (and procrastination) at 2:00am, or you’re on a lonely drive to somewhere, the soundtrack has an uncanny ability to transport you to a new world. You are lifted out of reality and into the fictional storyline of whatever the music creates. It’s not always the same experience every time. Often the story the soundtrack creates for you is different each listen.

One rule

Regardless of what your story is, there is one rule. You must listen to the entire soundtrack in order. The soundtrack plays itself in a serial way. Each song has a relevance into the next. While it may be possible to alter the order to a custom mix, the original story is best embedded in the original order of the soundtrack. One track may lead into a comforting calm for the next, or it may give rise to a dire situation that requires fast action.

Get the soundtrack

You can find the soundtrack for sale in many places. I urge you to support Marty O’Donnell with a well-deserved purchase of the album. If game soundtracks, instrumental music, and/or stories in music are your thing, this album is worth the listen.