Composed by
Michael G. Shapiro

 

Published by
Sierra Entertainment (2005)

 

Tracklistings
1) Empire Earth II Overture
2) German Briefing #1
3) German Briefing #2
4) German Defeat
5) German Campaign Victory
6) German Victory
7) Korean Briefing #1
8) Korean Briefing #2
9) Korean Early Briefing
10) Korean Defeat
11) Korean Early Victory
12) Korean Campaign Victory
13) Korean Victory
14) Mideast Briefing
15) Mideast Defeat
16) Mideast Victory #1
17) Mideast Victory #2
18) USA Briefing #1
19) USA Briefing #2
20) USA Briefing #3
21) USA Defeat
22) USA Campaign Victory
23) USA Victory
24) Empire Earth II Overture - Mix #2

 

Extras
- Game Website
- Composer Website
- Interview
- Audo-Interview with the composer about Empire Earth II

 

Availability
Free download no longer available

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn

Empire Earth II

In all aspects, Empire Earth II was a typical sequel: Improved graphics, some new gameplay elements, a new single-player campaign, while remaining basically the same game. As a player, you had to gather resources, build up a base, recruit an army and crush your opponent. The most interesting aspect about its prequel, Empire Earth, had always been the player’s ability to ‘research’ new ages (a feature introduced with developer Ensemble Studios' Age of Empires series) and thus command forces in every epoch of world history covering a time span of about 12’000 years. It was again the strongest point of Empire Earth II; that…and the music.

The original Empire Earth had a decent, very ambient soundtrack with a nice main title theme. For Empire Earth II, Sierra Entertainment decided to take the audio one step further and hired television composer Michael G. Shapiro to compose and the Budapest Film Orchestra to perform the score. The result is a stunning, well-crafted and multifaceted musical composition that goes far beyond mere ambience.

The album starts out with the “Empire Earth 2 Overture” featuring several layers of choir as well as strings and brass, which make a truly epic and dramatic opening. The score is then divided into the four factions of the game: German, Korean, Middle East and USA, each featuring about 4 cues.

The music Shapiro wrote for the Germans is very dark and brooding with subtle choir (“German Briefing #1”) and low strings and brass (“German Briefing #2”). The Korean tracks feature flutes and more ethnic instrumentation performing traditional-sounding melodies and harmonies. The theme is memorable and gets quoted in every other cue of that faction: most prominently in “Korean Briefing #1”. The Middle East part opens up fittingly with “Mideast Briefing” featuring a duduk and oriental harmonies performed by string and brass, before receding into more calm yet still exotic melodies. The USA faction in turn features more militaristic and patriotic sounds: solo trumpets, army percussion and rising strings. Ultimately, the album ends with a title theme variation (“Empire Earth Overture – Mix #2”): a sort of End Credits cue of the game.

All tracks are orchestrated and performed with great skill and the quality is impressive. Sierra’s soundtrack release though is seriously flawed. First of all, we only get the “Briefing” and “Loss/”Win” cues. There are no actual in-game cues on the release, which is a pity. Due to the lack of them the album version features very short individual cues (the soundtrack in total being only about 15 minutes long), which must be listened to actively as not to get a very disjointed and abrupt listening experience with themes changing rapidly and cues not really developing. It also means that you won’t hear any ambient or battle cues on the score album which negates in a way the diversity the whole score might have had to offer. Still, the few tracks Sierra did release are stunning in their diversity, power and artistic value. One might only assume what a satisfying listening experience the complete release would have provided.

Overall, however, it must be said that Empire Earth II is a truly excellent score and one you should have in your collection.