Resonance: Samara (Mass Effect 2)

Image by Flickr user Ryan Somma (CC)
Image by Flickr user Ryan Somma (CC)

While I could, in my sleep, hum the soundtrack of the original Mass Effect, the sounds of Mass Effect 2 remain fuzzy. Even now, in the midst of the game, I’m so caught up in the action that I’ve not been playing much attention to the background music of each mission. That all changed when I reached the point of attaining Samara for the team.

If you’re not familiar with the game, in it you must assemble a team to accompany Commander Shepard on a ridiculous excursion to save the galaxy from the deadly Collectors that will likely end in certain death. Among the people you are asked to acquire is an Asari Justicar named Samara. In Mass Effect gamespeak, Justicars are lightly akin to warrior monks — they’ve given up any aspects of a “normal” life in order to travel the universe fighting for justice. In a sense they are nomads, and they are bound by a very strict code. In Samara’s case, Shepard happens to catch her in the middle of a 400-year long hunt for a particular quarry – her own daughter, Morinth. Shepard and Samara hatch a scheme to trap Morinth, and once she and Samara face off, things get crazy.  Samara’s musical theme is a perfect representation of the character – polished yet savage; in control and controlling; beauty and beast.

Recently I’ve taken to listening to the Mass Effect soundtracks, and Mass Effect 2‘s is as varied as its cast of characters. It’s incredibly symphonic and grand, but it also contains plenty of hushed moments. And, as I said, it’s varied. There are themes for each of Shepard’s teammates – from the quiet drell assassin Thane, to Cerberus expert Miranda. And each one works hard to define each character’s sensibilities.  Samara’s theme stands out simply because it’s so contained and yet and so wild. By that I mean it starts out loud and yet paced. Though Samara is a trained and very skilled hunter, her “prey” has escaped her until now, which implies that something about her approach hasn’t worked. As calculating as she may have been, she’s been too loud in allowing Morinth to escape so many times before. But once the two finally meet face to face, it’s all out chaos as both parties released the full and virile extent of their powers. Only one survives, and, as the music dies down, it’s up to you to decide who!

While I wouldn’t define Samara’s theme as “touching,” the mission involving her is one of the game’s more emotional ventures. That’s present, to a certain extent, in her musical theme, though it’s more muted than not, indicating that there’s much more behind the Asari’s general definition of family than one might expect. These issues are initially brought up in the first Mass Effect with teammate Liara T’Soni, and they’re further expanded upon with Samara in Mass Effect 2. Samar’s musical theme represented growth and fluidity as much as it does stubbornness and futility. Makes sense for the Justicars, let alone an alien race that’s known to live for several centuries, at least.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Hatm0nster says:

    Definitely one of the stronger entries in the Mass Effect 2 soundtrack. I’d also say that Tali’s theme is up there as well, but perhaps “Suicide Mission” is the most memorable of the soundtrack, thanks to it’s bombastic and epic feel.

    I have a theory as to why the soundtrack of Mass Effect 1 is more memorable that those of ME2 or ME3. It think it has to do with the nature of the music. The music of ME1 just plain stands out. It sounds very distinct with heavy use of synthesizer sounds and simple main beats which make each tune very memorable. In the sequels, *everything* is orchestrated! Everything! You know what other games have fully orchestrated themes? The majority of modern AAA releases. It all blends together and is thus easily forgotten.

    I remember exactly two themes from ME3: the main theme (because of the sounds that burst out from the hushed tune) and the combat theme from the Citadel since it was synthesized as a call back to the first game. It sounded different. It’s the same for ME2: 3 themes: Suicide Mission, Tali’s theme, and the music from the upper Afterlife lounge. They were distinct! The rest, not so much.

    Huh…didn’t mean to go on a rant there but yeah. Music is good but it’s surprisingly (and disappointingly) forgettable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      I don’t think I could name a single song off of the ME3 soundtrack! I know the main theme, but that’s about it.

      I like your take on the musical differences between ME1 and its sequels. In the later games the music just sort of blends into the background. Even if something insane is happening on-screen, the music doesn’t overshadow it. That’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of crazy moments, in ME1, but it in the music is very different style-wise, as you say, and it punctuates the action rather than blends with it. Interesting how music within the same set of games can be so similar and yet so different!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dina Farmer says:

    I think there are many parts about ME2 that I really don’t remember. I need to replay the game after I’ve finished traveling in Thedas again. My 4 year old knowns the theme sound to ME1 right away. It is kind of silly actually, I’m like maybe… husband played this game wayyyy too much. The music is fairly good in ME2 but I think ME1 still blew it out of the water.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cary says:

      Yeah, it’s soundtrack is just more memorable overall.

      I recently completed ME2, and it’s simply a fantastic game. Better in many respects than the first game, but it has a much more serious tone overall. Frankly, I didn’t remember much of ME2 from the one time I played it years ago, so this was almost like playing it for the first time. Hope you get to it someday. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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