Harry Gregson-Williams and Norihiko Ibino
1) "Metal Gear Solid" Main Theme
2) Opening Infiltration
3) Russian Soldiers from Kasatka
4) Olga Gurlukovich
5) Metal Gear?
6) Revolver Ocelot
7) RAY Escapes
8) Can't Say Goodbye to Yesterday (Piano version)
9) Big Shell
11) Kill Me Now!
13) The World Needs Only One Big Boss
14) It's the Harrier!
15) Arsenal Is Going to Take Off!
16) Who Am I Really?
17) Can't Say Goodbye to Yesterday (Full Version)
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty
The period of anticipation preceding the release of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty in 2001, is a time most video game fans can nowadays easily recall. The hype prior to the title’s release was of truly epic proportions and lead to a kind of admiration of the game’s Japanese designer and project director Hideo Kojima, which is usually reserved for pop starts or movie icons. Metal Gear Solid 2 certainly warrants its reputation as of one of the most anticipated game titles in the history of the industry. Part of its cult status was owed to its incredible successful predecessor that cleverly combined stealth, action, story and cinematic presentation. The sequel was expected to improve upon all these elements and for the most part it did.
Concerning the audio portion of the game, the high budgeting allowed for the hiring of movie composer Harry Gregson-Williams to score certain sequences, namely some of the cut-scene material. Furthermore, he would also write a more modern version of Japanese artist TAPPY’s original Metal Gear Solid main theme, one of the most famous game music themes of all time. The latter in particular benefits much from Gregson-Williams’ experience in Hollywood for he manages to transform the straight-forward and formulaic title melody from the midi-days to a relatively modern and engaging main title suite (“Metal Gear Solid Main Theme”). Unfortunately, he abandons the impressive counter composing aspect of the original version in the process. The rest of Gregson-Williams’ work is characterized by some of the composer’s most hard-hitting electronic work to date. As a matter of fact, he doesn’t stray too far from his musical comfort zone, but basically translates his style from movies such as Spy Game or Déjà-vu into the gaming environment.
For the most part, Gregson-Williams’ approach works very well indeed. The second cue on album entitled “Opening Infiltration” underscores the opening cinematic of the game with great precision and is certainly one of the album’s highlights. Pacing electronics and dramatic choir performances fill the game’s opening sequence with tons of atmosphere. Dense ambient scoring and upbeat combat music dominate the rest of Gregson-Williams’ effort. The heavily electronic arrangements work quite well in the game by not being too obtrusive or overly repetitive. Also, they are very dynamic and change on the fly depending on the on screen happenings. However, as a stand-alone listen, it’s exactly this aspect that will probably not satisfy you. The album tends to stay elusive and has problems building enough identity to stand on its own. In fact, Gregson-Williams’ cues are the most traditional and conventional of all the compositions presented. Some of Japanse composer Norihiko Hibino’s additional material sounds far more original. A good example is “Fortune” that combines the jazzy yet melancholic sound of the saxophone to illustrate the inner turmoil of a tragic heroine. It’s through these interesting musical ideas and through Gregson-Williams’ classic, modern sound that Metal Gear Solid has never sounded better.
In the end, the value of the Metal Gear Solid 2 soundtrack album depends on your ability to envision the gaming environments the score was composed for. The score certainly has a couple of true highlights, the main theme being the prime attraction obviously, yet most of the score was written to complement highly atmospheric in-game sequences. As such, it’s a fitting score while, in its best musical moments, it has enough epic proportions for a Hollywood blockbuster.