Composed by
Jeremy Soule

 

Published by
DirectSong (2005)

 

Tracklistings
1) Opening Theme
2) Autumn in Ascalon
3) Mhenlo's Theme
4) Over the Shiverpeaks
5) Eye of the Storm
6) Prince Rurik's Theme
7) Sands of Kryta
8) The Door of Kumalie
9) The Moment of Truth
10) Devona's Theme
11) Cynn's Theme
12) Eve's Theme
13) Abaddon's Mouth
14) Crystal Oasis
15) Gwen's Theme
16) Ashford Abbey
17) Aidan's Theme
18) Guilds At War
19) Hall of Heroes
20) The Rift
21) Whitman's Folly
22) Tasca's Theme
23) Ascension Song
24) Temple of Tolerance
25) Althea's Theme
26) The Charr
27) The Great Northern Wall
28) First Light (Bonus)
29) The Elementalist (Bonus)
30) A Warrior's Heart (Bonus)
31) Beyond the Ocean (Bonus)

 

Extras
- Game website
- Composer website

 

Availability
- DirectSong
- Soundtrack included in Collector's Edition

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn

Guild Wars

The Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game Guild Wars isn’t actually that different from any other of its grand competitors like World of Warcraft, Everquest 2 or Lineage II. It has one big advantage though: absolutely no monthly fees. (Generally, online-only games charge up to 15$/month). So developer ArenaNet’s first project dared to crush the very concept of financing online role-playing games and while it didn’t really succeed in overtrumping World of Warcraft, it was a serious effort offering hours of fun.

If one had to name one composer commonly associated with role-playing games it would most definitely be Jeremy Soule and he was, in fact, chosen to compose the score to Guild Wars. And although his latest efforts have turned out to be somewhat disappointing, his newest contribution is easily his best score since Icewind Dale.

For a fantasy game as epic as Guild Wars, a rich orchestral score is certainly the way to go and Soule has proven once more that this is exactly his field of specialty. The “Opening Theme” is big, grand and sweeping. And even though it sounds all too familiar to Soule’s theme to the strategy game Kohan II, which he had scored earlier this year, the theme’s musical majesty and artistic sophistication render this opening cue a stunning highlight. Fortunately, the same quality continues throughout the album.

The lands of Guild Wars are wide and varied and the adventure sheer endless (it takes a player more than fifty hours of playing time to finish the campaign!). Soule’s score is definitely up to the task. From big arrangements similar to the opening cue (“Autumn in Ascalon”) to more playful and calm tracks (“Over the Shiverpeaks”) to dark, brooding and atmospheric compositions (“The Door of Komalie”), the musical score offers amazing variety from start to finish. Some of the cues like “Eye of the Storm” may reference back to his earlier fantasy scores like Neverwinter Nights, but overall, Soule really hasn’t achieved such a compositional and thematic richness since his award-winning score for Icewind Dale. Although the score is varied, it’s not as interactive as it should’ve been. You’ll hear many tracks over and over again while playing the game which is actually the crux of almost all game scores no matter how good they are. Still, Soule’s effort is an invaluable addition to an enchanting and fascinating game world.

The soundtrack is completely synthesised but it is quite impressive how very natural Soule’s sound-engine comes to sound. While some of the cues in Icewind Dale or even Morrowind had sounded awfully technical and lifeless, Guild Wars feels very much alive. This is especially fortunate since real orchestras for games still tend to be small and not well recorded. Soule on the other hand has a big, if technical, orchestra of his own, which he can manipulate and adjust as often as he deems necessary.

If you purchase the score over DirectSong, you get four additional tracks that you shouldn't miss. "First Light" is an incredibly emotional harp cue and "Beyond the Ocean" ends the album majestically.

With the few disappointing (and wildly unnoticed) scores in the last couple of years, like Warhammer 40k, Kohan II or Armies of Exigo, one was beginning to wonder what had happened to one of the most promising contemporary game composers. However, Guild Wars has definitely shown that Soule is still on top of his game. With Dungeon Siege II hitting store shelves later this year, we can only hope that he will maintain the quality of Guild Wars from now on.