Composed by
Jeremy Soule

 

Published by
n/a

 

Tracklistings
1) Startup Screen
2) Main Theme
3) The Old Republic
4) Taris Upper City
5) Apartments
6) Sith Guard Encounter
7) Taris Lower City
8) Javyar's Cantina
9) Taris Sewers
10) Rakghoul Attack
11) The Black Vulkars
12) Bastila Shan
13) The Leviathan
14) Pazaak
15) Inside the Sith Base
16) Battle at Davik's Estate
17) Arrival at Dantooine
18) The Jedi Academy
19) Dantooine Outback
20) Mandalorian Battle
21) Kinrath Cave
22) Ancient Ruins
23) Guard Droids
24) Tatooine
25) Anchorhead Street Fight
26) Tatooine Dune Sea
27) Desert Wraid Attack
28) Tusken Enclave
29) Sand People Ambush
30) Czerka Corporation
31) Atho City
32) Atho Sith Battle
33) Hrakert Station
34) Selkath Fight
35) Kashyyk
36) The Shadowlands
37) Confronting Darth Bandon
38) Korriban Sith Academy
39) Uthar Wynn's Trials
40) Captured by the Leviathan
41) Darth Malak
42) The Unknown World
43) Rancor Battle
44) The Temple
45) Last Chance
46) Aboard the Starforge
47) The Sith
48) The Last Confrontation
49) Finale & End Credits

 

Extras
- Game website
- Composer website

 

Availability
No commercial release

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

The Star Wars franchise has had action, adventure and even strategy games, but it wasn’t until 2003 that it would finally get its first role playing game. Bioware, the developer of the Baldur’s Gate Series and Neverwinter Nights, teamed up with LucasArts to create the critically acclaimed title Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (SWKotOR). The game was heralded as one of the best role playing games ever and certainly one of the best Star Wars games in the last ten years.

The Star Wars games have mostly been uninspired and predictable when it came to music. By just using the original film scores, but cutting and editing them to fit the on-screen action at least to some degree, the developers often created more of a mishmash than an actual fitting musical accompaniment. Because of Knights of the Old Republic ’s storyline, which is set 4000 years before the first Star Wars movie, using the original soundtrack was not an option. Instead, they hired Jeremy Soule, who had already worked with Bioware on Neverwinter Nights and with LucasArts on Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, to compose 70 minutes of original score.

To create an original score for the Star Wars universe was certainly an intriguing opportunity for Soule, even a dreamcometrue. He would’ve had the chance to mix his own themes with the traditional ones, imitate the sound of the movie scores without completely letting go of his own style and to tune his synthesizers to top form showing everyone what his technology could do. Sadly, Soule failed in almost every respect. There are three basic themes, one for the Republic, one for the Jedi Bastila and one for the villain Darth Malak, but Soule seldom manages to quote them in other cues resulting in an incoherence of the thematic material. This would not be so bad if he amazed us with interesting and captivating background music or if he worked out other thematic ideas for all the game’s different locations. Unfortunately, no area of the game features any recognizable theme and while the soft performances of horn and strings never bother, they fail to impress either and leave much to be desired. By trying so hard to be unobtrusive, Soule gives up the chance to actually evoke feelings, emotions or fascinating and suitable moods.

It is hard to understand why Soule resisted weaving themes and motifs into the ambient pieces, something he had excellently done before in Icewind Dale or Neverwinter Nights; they were subtle yet memorable. The fact that only two of the many non-player characters in the game get their own theme is equally difficult to comprehend, especially because many characters featured their own dialogue and voice acting and were crying out for thematic material.

The lack of themes is the biggest problem of the battle tracks, too. Whereas motifs would have given them a certain direction, they tend to go nowhere and the predominant use of horns in most of these cues is not only repetitive and unoriginal, but just unbearable at times. Why did he give up his strong, thematic scoring of the battles in Neverwinter Nights or Morrowind for a disjointed battle-music in SWKotOR?

Despite its many flaws, Soule’s score doesn’t do all wrong. The "Main Theme" is very heroic and militaristic thus perfectly suitable to the Republic. Some of the ambient cues certainly have their moments like “Dantooine Outback” that opens up with an amazing percussion melody at the beginning, which is very moving and uplifting. A touching violin solo makes the theme of "Bastila Shan" quite an emotional cue (although a bit too similar to Aarin Gend’s theme in Neverwinter Nights) and the string and horn-driven march of Darth Malak accurately portrays his dark and sinister personality. “The Last Confrontation”, again performing Malak’s theme, is a striking action track with a choir adding to the feel of ultimate confrontation.

Soule has worked two of John Williams' Star Wars movie themes into the score. The Force-theme is quoted in "Bastila Shan" to portray her strong connection to the force. The Emperor theme (interpreted as Sith-theme) underscores the Sith base on the planet of Taris.

While the score isn’t performed by a real orchestra, Soule’s synthesizer is pretty much up to the task. There are seldom moments you’d wish for a more full and “real” sound.

Sadly, what could and should have been one of Soule’s best works turned out to be one of his weakest. A shame considering the enormous possibilities this project held.