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Music Makes the People Come Together
15/11/2008 alle 16:53
So you may not know it about me, but video games are but
of my twisted obsessions. The other big one is music--and I will always have a special spot in my heart reserved for the place where those two loves meet.
I wasn't the first kid in my school to have a Nintendo, by any means. That honor belonged to my friend Chris, who was kind enough to invite me to his house to play (at a time when
wanted to come to his house to play). We played the original Super Mario Bros. until all hours of the morning, and sure--the game was fun. I had a good time. But it was the
, written by the honorable
, that convinced me that I
had to have one
. That song is still with me, and considering how many cellphone ringtones it continues to grace today, I'm clearly not the only one.
When I first started playing games I had the musical joy of games like
Super Mario Bros
Legend of Zelda
, and others like them. Those blips and bleeps would sing me to sleep at night. But as I matured, so did the gaming industry--and as technology and budgets both advanced, music started to become a more integral part of the game experience. When the days finally came that games were released on CD-ROM, and real honest-to-goodness CD music started getting bundled with the games we played, I fell in love with the soundtracks to two franchises:
(and its follow-up,
Warcraft II: The Tides of Darkness
Blizzard has always held the music on their games to a high standard, but the Warcraft franchise specifically has excelled in every iteration. I loved those songs, especially the huge kettle drum rhythms playing behind a harpsichord melody--at one point (nerd confession inc.) I even
to the songs, because I decided that "Track 5" was not evocative enough. I don't have the Collector's Editions of WoW, or TBC, but in both cases I found someone who did so I could listen to the music. I bought the Collector's Edition of WotLK only because I wanted the
--even the adorable
didn't matter to me. On the way home from the WotLK launch event, I popped that CD into my car stereo and I listened to it, beginning to end.
An Absurdly Biased Review
So after the leadup I just gave you, it shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone that I loved the Wrath Soundtrack. But it
come as a surprise to some of you that I
especially like the previous soundtrack entries.
The Original World of Warcraft Soundtrack was brilliantly written for the cinematics, and for the big introductions--the Stormwind City theme, for example, is an absolutely beautiful piece of work, as are the opening themes like
The Shaping of the World
. Outside of those, though, you start getting into the ambient themes--the background music that's played in Dun Morogh, Elwynn Forest, Teldrassil, and such. Don't get me wrong--as ambient music to set the stage in game, these are great pieces. They provide just the right level of atmosphere without distracting from the actual game content. As standalone music, though, there's kind of nothing there. It just sort of takes up space--there isn't enough melodic content to hold your interest. As ambient music for the actual game experience, it makes for great support. For listening, it falls flat.
The soundtrack to The Burning Crusade suffered even more from this problem. The addition of the science-fiction style elements to the gameplay lent themselves to more of a futuristic sound, with more synthesizers and an airier, more discordant atmosphere. The result was once again, a soundtrack that lent itself beautifully to the purpose for which it was written--as a background to a game activity. But when you were listening to it on headphones, it was like listening to Reverse-New-Age music; it sat in the background where you could barely hear it, and instead of being relaxing and putting you to sleep, it just made you more on edge.
A Change of Pace
I haven't gotten far enough into Wrath of the Lich King yet to really say how well the music integrates with the actual content, but I
tell you that the Wrath soundtrack is a huge departure from this theme. The music in Wrath of the Lich King is grand and sweeping, full of lush string textures and angry horn blasts. Nearly every track stands on its own as a beautiful, melodically consistent piece of work. It references and builds upon the themes established in the earlier soundtracks without relying on them too heavily.
of the soundtrack is much wider than it has ever been before. The previous WoW soundtracks have always focused on the darker aspects of the game--The music is built on militant rhythms and minor chords, even when the intended effect is one of mystery and beauty (like the
theme, or later the one for
). Wrath skillfully bucks this trend, most especially in songs like the
beautiful--or the later track
Totems of the Grizzlemaw
. After being so long immersed in the chaotic, war-torn feel of the game's earlier music, a
dose of simple, comforting music (skillfuly done here) is exceedingly emotionally rewarding.
I know, I know. I'm a fanboy. And maybe no one cares about the game's soundtrack but me. But I sincerely feel that Blizzard has outdone themselves on this one. What about you guys? Are there any other game music buffs out there?
Also stay tuned: With luck we should be able to review
Echoes of War
up here pretty soon!
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