Game of the Year are probably the four most coveted words amongst those in the game design world, especially when that award comes from their peers at the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves recently took that, plus nine other honors given out at DICE 2010. Amongst that huge win was the award for Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition, going to composer Greg Edmonson for the game's soundtrack. Turn up your speakers and come inside for a listening session of some of his music for Uncharted 2 and find out if the soundtrack album deserves heavy rotation in your music playlist.
Adding to its awards tally, just yesterday Naughty Dog's Uncharted sequel won another 10 awards, this time from the National Academy of Video Game Testers and Reviewers Corp. (the aptly named NAViGaTR Awards) including Original Musical Score. Now Uncharted 2 not only mark's Nathan Drake's return, but Greg Edmonson's as well, since he was the creator of the music of the original Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Appropriately, the album kicks off with "Nate's Theme 2.0" with its majestic horn and string sections balancing each other above the adventurous pace set by the rhythm section.
Next up is "Bustin' Chops" which is belted out by the Skywalker Session Orchestra to create a fantastic big action music moment.
"Reunion" is another fine example of Edmonson's use of the Erhu (or Chinese Violin) in his music. The plaintive voice of this instrument, performed by soloist Karen Han, elevates this piece and others on the album, with the subtle beauty of its unique sound.
The Uncharted 2 soundtrack album from Sumthing Else Music Works also gets additional props for the inclusion of Carmen Rizzo's "The Road to Shambhala" with its blend of orchestral sounds and world music voices over a slowly building trip-hop beat, and for having one of the coolest name's for a piece of soundtrack music ever with Edmonson's "Brutal Combo Mambo."
So who is this album for? The really good news is this is the kind of video game soundtrack that will appeal to multiple types of listeners. Uncharted fans are obviously the target audience, but even if you're a gamer who hasn't played Among Thieves yet, you will like Edmonson's music immensely. It might even convince you to play it! Beyond these core listening groups, soundtrack music fans who rarely venture into the game world will also appreciate this album for its extraordinarily cinematic qualities. And then there are the Browncoats. As Edmonson scored all 14 episodes of the beloved and short lived Firefly series, its most ardent fans (who tend to follow the continuing exploits of its cast and creators) will most definitely find great enjoyment in these compositions. If that's not enough to convince you, then know that when I first put the CD on to prepare for this article, I ended up leaving it on repeat for the entire day and part of the next. ‘nuff said.