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Head Like a Hole: Trent Reznor writing music for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Activision killed off the Guitar Hero franchise early in 2011. Since the company had flooded the market with a torrential downpour of games and plastic instruments, every single person on the planet had gotten their fill of the publisher’s specific brand of virtual rock. You’ve got to wonder though: What happened to all that money it had set aside for licensing new music for the series? That budget had to be substantial.

Clearly Activision is dropping its music budget on major talent for its biggest games. Bungie, the studio behind Halo that’s hard at work on the MMO shooter franchise “Destiny” for Activision, is now working with Sir Paul McCartney. Macca don’t come cheap either! He’s not the only big rock gun either. Activision has brought on Academy Award winner Trent Reznor, he of Nine Inch Nails, to work on November’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

USA Today reported that Reznor made the theme song for the Treyarch-developed sequel. “There is a lot of reservation and angst and a sense of loss and regret and anger bubbling under the surface [of Call of Duty: Black Ops II],” said Reznor, “So it didn’t make sense to have a gung-ho patriotic feeling kind of theme song. It has to feel weighty.”

Both the subject matter and the medium are well-trod territory for Reznor. Nine Inch Nails’ 2007 album Year Zero is a concept album that explores many of the same themes as recent Call of Duty games, including the threat of nuclear conflict and the tolls war takes on the minds of soldiers. He’s also composed the soundtracks id games Doom 3 and Quake.

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