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.