Mansell, who got a more interesting video game than Hans Zimmer did, describes his role as "more like a DJ," with the aural accompaniment being almost modular and reactive to the player. "You've got the holding pattern, then the big explosion where you need the score to kick in," he says. "Then you need to take it off on a tangent. You've got all these different elements that change depending on what the player does. You have to figure out an overall symphony, but be able to break it down into component parts. You can bring the pain when required."
The pain will be brought to your eardrums this holiday, when Mass Effect 3 concludes the sci-fi trilogy on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Of course, your excitement might be more focused on the game's next promotional video: Clint Mansell's Requiem for a Dream piece, "Lux Ӕterna," was re-orchestrated to great effect in a trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Remember how you watched it a zillion times?