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Kazuma Jinnouchi seemed like a potentially risky choice to follow behind the legacy of Marty O'Donnell to take on the role of composing the soundtrack for Halo 5: Guardians. However, now that Microsoft is letting gamers listen to the whole soundtrack for the game, for free, for an entire week I can say with earnest resolve that Jinnouchi is a great successor to what O'Donnell accomplished for the series.
Neil Davidge was in charge of composing the score to Halo 4 and it was not something that stands up well to the test of time as a memorable or progressive step for the series' iconic musical sounds. Jinnouchi, however, takes the series back to its roots, embracing the Gregorian chants and reviving the focus on the taiko drums and emotional string sections that helped chisel some of the most memorable cues in the history of video game soundtracks.
Over on the Xbox website they have a link available to the complete Halo 5: Guardians soundtrack, allowing gamers to listen to the whole thing from start to finish via SoundCloud. You can listen below via the embed.
No matter what you think about Halo, it's hard to deny that that is one of the most comprehensive soundtracks for the series yet.
One of the things that really stands out with this particular soundtrack is that as much as Jinnouchi is paying homage to Marty O'Donnell's original score, there are a lot of brand new themes introduced as well, specifically for Spartan Locke and the Osiris team.
I think what's cool about this soundtrack for Halo 5 is that all the different sounds don't sound as if they don't belong. There's a familiarity there in score, even for the new themes and the slow, emotional parts. I think that was one of the biggest problems with Halo 4, where it seemed like there wasn't a lot of familiarity there and it seemed disparate from what Bungie had originally established with the game, whether it was visually, audibly or thematically.
For Halo 5: Guardians there is a lot of weight on the shoulders of the team at 343 Industries to deliver a product; a game; an experience that isn't just another cash-in with Halo on the box but something that deserves to be part of an established legacy that helped redefine first-person shooters and push competitive online multiplayer gaming to all new heights on the Xbox game consoles. The original three Halo games are as important as Mario or Zelda, so there's a lot riding on Halo 5 to deliver on maintaining the quality that came before 343 Industries.
At least as far as the music is concerned, Jinnouchi and the 343 Industries audio team have knocked it out of the park. I don't know if I would call it soundtrack of the year – Garteh Coker's Ori and the Blind Forest soundtrack is easily one of the best of the year – but the mix of old themes with new sounds and the combination of synthesizers and classical instruments makes Halo 5's soundtrack something most fans will likely want to add to their collection.
You can pick up a digital copy of the soundtrack for only $15.99, a CD/LP for $24.99, a vinyl for $24.99 and a limited edition with two compact discs, double vinyl album, Blu-ray with a making-of and orchestral sheet music with an attached digital download card featuring bonus tracks for $49.99.
The Halo 5 soundtrack is due for release on October 30th.