Composed by
Kevin Manthei

 

Published by
KMM Productions (2004)

 

Tracklistings
Wizardry 8
1) Main Menu Theme
2) Arnika Theme
3) Camping Theme
4) Character Creation
5) Combat Variation 1
6) Cosmic Circle
7) Easy Combat
8) Lose Combat Tag
9) Normal Combat 1
10) Normal Combat 2
11) Outdoor 2
12) Outdoor Area
13) Rapax
14) T-Rang
15) Tough Combat
16) Trynton
17) Umpani
18) Undeground
19) Win Combat Tag 1
20) Win Combat Tag 2
21) Win Combat Tag 3

Jagged Alliance 2
22) Battle
23) Creature Battle
24) Creepy
25) Death
26) Nothin' A
27) Nothin' B
28) Nothin' C
29) Nothin' D
30) Tenser A
31) Tenser B
32) Tenser C
33) Triumph

 

Extras
- Game website
- Composer website
- Interview
- Score guide

 

Availability
- Kevin Manthei's store
- Synsoniq.com

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn

Wizardry 8

For developer SirTech Wizardry 8 was a disaster. The overly long production time (roughly four years) and the long search for a publisher resulted in a total commercial failure of the product and in bankruptcy for SirTech. But while the title didn’t achieve high rankings in bestseller lists, it got decent to good reviews and was commended for its “good-old” turn-based combat system and multifaceted character development. With it came a very dense atmosphere, particularly because of Kevin Manthei’s score that always seemed to hit the right notes at the right time.

What Manthei came up with for the score is pretty much a development and quotation from his earlier works but he manages to drive his style to almost perfection. This becomes audible from the very first track, the “Main Menu Theme” that presents ideas first heard in his early work for Majesty. It is a rhythmic, heroic and short-spoken fanfare that gets you ready for adventure. As often in game scores, every town features its own theme but they seldom get more memorable than in Wizardry 8. The “Arnika Theme” is one of the highlights. Harps, subtle percussion and a solo oboe later joined by lively strings describe the little town Arnika with great musical precision. To give Trynton, a city built in the boughs of gigantic trees, its own identity Manthei resorts to a more tribal sound with several layers of choir in many ways similar to Klaus Badelt’s filmscore to The Time Machine. The race of the “Umpani” gets a more militaristic treatment with blaring horns seeming to cry out their motto “Power-Duty-Victory”. Another track of astounding emotional impact is the “Camping Theme” that strikes you with its sheer simplicity. A solo guitar accompanied by harp radiates waves of comfort and quietness. Manthei cleverly evades the problem of repetitive sound when the player is creating his or her characters, a process than can take up to 15 minutes in a role playing game. His track for the “Character Creation” is very subdued and yet epic in an understated fashion and thus never gets obtrusive.

The battle tracks are divided by intensity to react as closey as possible to what’s going on on screen at any given moment. So when you’re attacked by rats the music plays “Easy Combat” while the “Tough Combat” track is unleashed when the player encounters dragons or even worse. Through the different phases of combat intensity Manthei made sure that some elements and textures remain in every battle-mode giving all tracks a consistency. Once you defeat your adversary one of the three “Win Combat Tags” kicks in to let you celebrate your victory.

If there’s one thing to criticise it is arguably the weak sound-engine Manthei used for the score. Make no mistake about it: the score doesn’t sound like recorded with a huge orchestra at all. To Manthei’s credit you’ve got to say that the score is at least three years old and was composed in a time when real orchestras for game music were the exception. Nevertheless, if you were hoping for a truly epic sound you will be disappointed.

Some selected cues from Manthei’s score from the turn-based strategy game Jagged Alliance 2 form the second part of the album. The ambient tracks are divided into “Nothing…” and “Tenser…”. Each track plays depending on the on-screen situation. When you’re exploring the area the “Nothing…”-tracks play in the background. As soon as an enemy is spotted the “Tenser…” tracks take over making the whole score very dynamic. What’s more, most of the tracks are only slightly ambient but contain some very memorable motifs. “Triumph” finishes the album with a heroic fanfare.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is Manthei’s strongest work to date. If you’re new to Manthei’s soundtracks I recommend this one very much as your starting score. And if you’re already familiar with some of his music than this score is a must-have for your collection. Add his score for Jagged Alliance 2 and you get a great album; a true classic.