01/06/2011. Contributed by Tomas L. Martin
Crysis 2: The Official Soundtrack by Borisav Slavov, Tilman Sillescu, Lorne Balfe and Hans Zimmer. pub: La-La Land Records LLLCD-1171. 2 CDs (49.04mins and 48.20mins). Price: $15.98 (US))
check out website: www.lalalandrecords.com
‘Crysis’, the game of soldiers in super-powered exo-suits battling aliens and the North Koreans in the jungles of a fictional chain of pacific islands, was famous mostly because of how ludicrously power-hungry it was. For several years being able to run ‘Crysis’ even competently was a big boasting point for owners of a PC gaming rig and even now it is widely used to benchmark new hardware.
In making the sequel, developers Crytek decided to take a different approach, releasing the game on the less graphics-heavy PS3 and Xbox360 consoles, as well as changing the locale. Gone were the jungle settings of the first game and its spiritual predecessor, ‘Far Cry’, and instead the sequel was set in the urban jungle of Manhattan. At the beginning of the game, marine ‘Alcatraz’ narrowly escapes an encounter with the aliens before the surviving super-soldier from the first game, infected by a virus, gives him the nanosuit, bestowing on him the powers of invisibility, super-hard armour and speed making for a really different feel from traditional shooters.
The developers also roped in some exceptional talent to craft ‘Crysis 2’. The script was written by one of my favourite writers, Richard Morgan, with additional input from the excellent Peter Watts. For the soundtrack, most of the composing work was performed by Boris Slavov, but with the assistance from one of the best soundtrack composers out there, Hans Zimmer, whose soundtracks to ‘Inception’ and the new ‘Batman’ films have been a huge contribution to their success.
I liked what I played of ‘Crysis 2’, finding it a more compelling story than the first, with the addition of the RPG-like suit upgrades a nice touch and the vehicle sequences a nice break from the stealth-shooter action. I did feel like it suffered a bit from the move to the city, and the freedom to roam experienced in the previous games was sadly lacking. Having done such a great job in making a beautifully photorealistic recreation of Manhattan, it was disappointing you couldn’t wander wherever you felt like going.
The music, however, was suitably atmospheric and this extended collection of tracks from the game is a testament to that. Only a handful of tracks are by Hans Zimmer himself – the ‘Crysis 2 Intro’, ‘Rampage’, ‘Epilogue’ and ‘Insertion’, plus a few short tracks at the end of Disk 2. Most of these are written with Lorne Balfe, but feature the booming crescendos of brash brass we have come to expect from a Zimmer soundtrack.
The rest of the soundtrack duties are shared between Borisav Slavov and Tilman Sillescu but there is no noticeable drop off in quality between the different composers – in fact some of my favourite pieces are by Slavov – such as the eerie, atmospheric ‘Battery Park’ and the tense fast pace of ‘Crynet, Shoot Him Down!’. This is definitely a good soundtrack to listen to whilst exercising or otherwise being active, with most of the tracks being frantic and action-based.
Beneath the singular string arrangements and booming brass there is a common thread through most tracks of computerised guitar, drums and general bionic-sounding noises, some of which remind me of the feel of Harry Gregson-Williams’ soundtrack to ‘Metal Gear Solid’. This cyberpunky aesthetic blends really well with the bionic suit in the game and the atmospherics of tracks like ‘Sneak And Shoot’ employing these digital sounds are perfect whilst performing stealthy takedowns of alien intruders.
The digital release of the ‘Crysis 2’ soundtrack is shorter, with 15 tracks totalling 36 minutes and 24 seconds. The audio CD version is much preferred for the completionist, with two discs comprising around 49 minutes of music on each disc. Since for me most soundtracks are at their best when quietly evoking atmosphere in the background, the more music there is to listen to the better. The team behind ‘Crysis 2’ blended together experts from many fields and the mix of compositions from the four composers on this soundtrack has produced a fantastic auditory companion to a pretty good action game.
Tomas L. Martin
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