Composed by
Tom Salta

 

Published by
Ubisoft Music (2010)

 

Tracklistings
1) Red Steel 2 Theme
2) Kusagari Blues
3) Caldern Trap
4) Desert Secrets
5) Ninjas in the Mine
6) Let's "Dance"
7) Pursuing the Shadows
8) Into the HQ
9) Enforceres' Mood
10) Back to the Old Temple
11) Invaded City
12) Vultures' Prayer
13) The Ghost Town
14) Sheriff Judd
15) Ambush
16) Opening the Water Gate
17) Roofs at Night
18) Canyon Melody
19) Poisonous Wind
20) Exploring Caldera
21) Fight with the Snakes
22) First Tension
23) The Old Mine
24) Tamiko

 

Extras
- Game website
- Composer website
- Interview

 

Availability
- Amazon.com
- iTunes

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn


Red Steel 2

Red Steel 2 tells the story of a nameless hero of the Kusagari clan who returns from exile to find his village burned down and his clansmen slaughtered. Immediately, he sets out for revenge. In addition to its exciting mix of a Wild West themed setting with Asian architecture, the game made full use of Nintendo Wii’s Motion Plus sensor controller to bring epic sword fighting into the player’s living room. The new setting of Red Steel 2 wouldn’t allow composer Tom Salta to return to the contemporary style of his score to the prequel. Instead, he had to start from scratch. His approach is in a way straight forward, yet the end result is nevertheless rather creative. What the designers did visually, he did musically: Salta combined musical ideas reminiscent of a Wild West setting with a multitude of Asian influences. Consequently, his end product turned out to sound peculiar. It is a mix of a wide variety of instrumentations ranging from whistling, harmonicas and violins to blues guitars, Chinese percussions and ethnic vocals. As one might deduce, the result is a clever hybrid score, yet with a fair share of flaws.

The combination of disparate musical elements certainly makes for an interesting first impression. The “Red Steel 2” theme is an engaging mix of traditional and ethnic instruments. It also sets the pace for the entire album that interchanges between easy-going sounds for the ambient sections of the game and more upbeat rhythms for the action sequences. “Caldera Trap” is a good example of the latter: the virtuous instrumentation and the fast and exhilarating pace do a good job in keeping up with the intense sword-fighting action on screen. The exact opposite is the solemn “Back to the Old Temple” with its calm writing for light percussion and ethnic vocals. In its best moments, Red Steel 2 is defined by this exciting, musical blend. Paradoxically, as varied as the instrumentation may be, most of the actual arrangements resemble each other very closely. This is especially true of Salta’s rhythmic constructions and musical economy. Often, there’s almost too much blending of instrumentation and too little back-and-forth between them. All instruments play at the same time all the time. Also, the cues tend to go nowhere (“Vultures’ Prayer”) or disintegrate into chaotic clusters of unorganized musical ideas (“Roofs at Night”). This is both repetitive in game and frustrating to the listener.

All in all, Red Steel 2 takes risks and doesn’t succeed completely, especially on CD. It features great ideas and fun, musical moments, but the overall score is a tough sell.