Composed by
Clint Bajakian

 

Published by
n/a

 

Tracklistings
Disc 1
1) The Raiders March
2) Main Menu
3) To Ceylon
4) The Paths of the Ancients
5) Temple of the River Goddess
6) Into the Sacred Caverns
7) The Idol of Kouru Watu
8) Von Beck
9) Return to New York
10) Prologue
11) To Prague
12) Castle Gates
13) The Dungeons
14) Observatory
15) The Glider
16) Laboratory Fight
17) To Istanbul
18) Istanbul Breakout
19) The Secret of the Mosque
20) The Sunken Palace

View full tracklistings

 

Extras
- Game website

 

Availability
No commercial release

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn

Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones. So what hero might be more suitable to make an appearance in a video game than the greatest hero of them all? LucasArts has always embraced the opportunity to bring the excitement, mystery and adventure that is Indiana Jones to the game screen. To guarantee success they have always tried to adapt the Indiana Jones franchise to the genre that was the most popular at any given time. Starting as a point&click-adventure game in the veins of Monkey Island in the ‘80s and early ‘90s it would become a Tomb Raider-esque action-adventure game in the late ‘90s. For the latest entry in the franchise, Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb, LucasArts decided to focus more on the action than the puzzle-solving and thus reacting on a main-stream market that seemed to prefer fast-paced and relatively simple gameplay over complex and intriguing level-design that would call for wit instead of muscle.

With unoriginal but mass-market oriented concepts come higher sales expectations. And with higher sales expectations comes higher budgeting. In this case, this would give composer Clint Bajakian the chance to hire the Seattle Symphony orchestra to perform the 33 minutes of action material. The rest, however, is completely done with synthesizers. Having worked on all the other Indiana Jones games Bajakian knew his way around in the franchise but never before did he have a full orchestra at his disposal.

The first track of the album is of course the famous Raiders march, but it is also a bit of a disappointment. Although Bajakian arranges the theme differently, it sounds weak and somehow shallow because of the use of synthesizers. Furthermore, some of the percussion writing seems to be obtrusive or not properly mixed making Bajakian’s version of the Raiders march a pretty unimpressive opening. Once you get to track 2 though, things change and you slowly become aware of the impressive quality this score has to offer. From start to finish Bajakian manages to incorporate the musical style of John Williams but adding musical ideas of his own to make it unique nevertheless. What is probably the most commendable thing about the score is its perfect balance between ambient and thematic material in every cue. One of the biggest problems in game scores today is that they are either hefty ambient and quite a tough stand-alone listen or very theme driven but very obtrusive in the game itself. While listening to Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb you still recognize the sort of ambient game sound but at the same time you can marvel at the many themes and motifs for each location and character of the game.

Over the course of his adventure Indiana Jones has to travel through many different locations, from the deepest jungle of Ceylon through the streets of Prag and the rooftops of Istanbul to a mystical place called The Netherworld. Each of these locations features its own motifs and musical flavours showing Bajakian’s excellent ability to establish and develop themes. Ceylon, for example, is characterized by a very diverse instrumentation offering several layers of percussion among short brass statements. Istanbul on the other hand is dominated by drums and Arabian woodwinds to create a distinctive eastern feel.

Two of the main characters have their own themes. Bajakian wrote a militaristic and evil brass fanfare for the German villain Von Beck and a soft and harmonic melody for Indy’s companion Mei Ying. Both themes serve their job very well and add more depth to the characters.

As mentioned above Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb is a very action-oriented game. The score reflects this so that you will hear quite an amount of action material on the album (especially because each battle track is looped once!). These battle cues are exciting, adrenaline-pumping and quite complex in their orchestration. Some of the location themes make an appearance as well, transformed into fast-paced action arrangements. The orchestrations are very well done and the Seattle Symphony performs all the action cues with skill and heart.

Considering the wealth of themes and musical ideas as well as the professionalism in orchestration it’s a shame that the orchestra didn't perform the whole score. You really wish to have a more full sound at certain points. But apart from that, Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb has everything a great game soundtrack needs.