Composed by
Pierre Langer and Tilman Sillescu

 

Published by
n/a

 

Tracklistings
1) Main Theme
2) Indian - Ambient
3) Prairie Indians - Theme
4) Prairie Indians - Combat
5) Settlers - Ambient
6) Settlers - Theme
7) Settlers - Combat
8) English - Ambient
9) English - Theme
10) English - Combat
11) Spanish - Ambient
12) Spanish - Theme
13) Spaniards - Combat
14) Native Americans - Theme
15) Native Americans - Combat
16) Patriots - Theme
17) Patriots - Combat

 

Extras
- Game website
- Composer website
- Interview

 

Availability
No commercial release

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn

No Man's Land

The Wild-West topic seems to comprise all the elements a strategy title needs: exploration, building, conquest and battles. German publisher CDV got ready to bring this topic to the computer-screen backed up by next-generation graphics and a classic wild-west soundtrack.

Composers Pierre Langer and Tilman Sillescu (founders of the studio Dynamedion) had had their breakthrough with their cinematic fantasy score for Phenomic's role-playing game Spellforce: The Order of Dawn. What they came up with this time is no less cinematic but completely different in style. To capture the wild-west atmosphere they took a perfectly suitable musical approach in combining the typical spaghetti-western sound with some American western fanfares.

The “Main Theme” (that plays in the Menu of the game) draws you right into the wild-west world. It's a brassy and heroic theme that definitely wouldn't be out of place in many western movies. The second part of that cue introduces the Indian elements of the score making the first track more like an Overture than a "simple" main theme.

Each of the six factions of the game features its own musical identity. The trademark Morricone sound is attached to The Settlers with banjos and a harmonica among other instruments performing a humable theme. The Indians feature a more tribal sound with woodwinds and drums establishing an emotional connection to their world. The English theme is made up of a presentable and honourable sound while the Spanish faction is characterized through slight Spanish instrumentation.

For all those who think that strategy game scores have to be ambient and unbearable as stand-alone listens will be positively surprised by this effort. All the tracks are very thematic with clearly audible themes and motifs throughout. Each of the factions features three different tracks on album. (with the exception of “Native Americans” and “Patriots”) “…Ambient”, as the name suggests, is the least thematic of the three, but still quite accessible. “…Theme” is the virtual track for the faction while the “…Combat” track kicks in every time you attack or are being attacked. Each of the factions has its own theme that is quoted in the three sub-tracks (Ambient, Theme and Combat) and serves as connection between them. As for their use in the game, the most commendable thing is the long duration of the theme-track. The composers were very well aware of the musical problem in many strategy games meaning the constant repetition of the track(s). With their long and varied theme-track they managed to counter that problem a bit and gave the game a cinematic but not overpowering or overly repetitive musical touch.

The only disappointment of the score has to be its battle tracks because they seem to lack power and energy. Of course, it is understandable that they have to be understated as not to overpower the action, but there's nevertheless sort of a subtle energy and brutality missing that would've helped in making the battles more exciting (with the exception of the “Spaniards-Combat” which is an amazing action cue).

Most of the score is done by a musical library, but there were also some live musicians hired to perform such exotic instruments as the banjo, the harmonica or the drums. In this case, the synthesized sound even has an advantage for Morricone himself often used synthesizers instead of a full orchestra to perform his scores.

What Langer and Sillescu did is a wonderful and very thematic strategy score that stands in the tradition of the great Morricone western efforts. Its use in the game is excellent and listening to it as a stand-alone listen is equally enjoyable.