Monday, October 19, 2009

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves by Greg Edmonson (Review)

Greg Edmonson returns to the successful Sony franchise for the PS3. Game scores have become a new breed. Looking back at game music history is fascinating. I can honestly say that today game scores are identical in function to film scores. Michael Giacchino helped blur the lines with his magnificent work on the Medal Of Honor series, but real credit goes to Norihiko Hibino who scored Metal Gear Solid for PS1. That score was the first game score that had to work with characters and cinematic developments or in simpler terms a story with a hero and a goal.

What Greg Edmonson has done here is successfully created a sound for the Uncharted universe. In what can best be described as a modern take on classic adventure scores this score is massive in scope and scale. Percussion, strings and brass work in grandiose arrangements to transport you to the story’s exotic locales all the while keeping tension and excitement at a maximum.

I definitely think that this score is a huge improvement over what he did for the first game. He does use many variations of Nate’s Theme throughout the game. Instead of blatantly placing it in the score like say the James Bond theme he will instead weave it into the arrangements to avoid it being “cheesy” or just over the top. New this time around is the use of vocals. At first you’ll get airy female vocals, which is perfect for the exotic and mysterious aspect of the story. Later as you plunge deeper into darker territory he’ll bring in the droning throat singing male vocals, which is a perfect accent since the game deals with Shambhala and throat singing is a custom of the Inuit people in that part of the world.

All in all Greg Edmonson has found his shining achievement. I never got into his music because looking at the nature of his filmography it ranges from shows like Firefly and King Of The Hill to some obscure films. Uncharted is an amazing musical accomplishment and stands with Harry Gregson-Williams’ work for the Metal Gear Solid franchise and Michael Giacchino’s work as some of the best game scores of all time. It works as background score for the gameplay and seamlessly transitions between cutscenes and gameplay to mesh the two in a way where you feel the entire game is one huge cutscene and your experiencing it front and center. This album is a digital download only just like the first score. So check for it on iTunes.

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