Borderlands 2 Soundtrack Review

As video games continue to get better and better with each new release so do their soundtracks. There have been some truly remarkable scores releasing alongside these AAA titles, and video game soundtracks are easily catching up to movie soundtracks in both quality and popularity. Personally, I’m a huge fan of soundtracks since most of my listening time is either in the car or while sitting at my computer working, and in the case of the latter, I really need music without lyrics.

I’ve stated in past reviews that listening to a game soundtrack is a great way to relive the original game experience, but in the case of Borderlands 2, this is just a kick-ass CD loaded with awesome music that I would listen to over and over again regardless of whether it was tied to a game or not. I’ve only had this CD for a few days now and I’ve easily listened to it at least a dozen times. I have the tracks ripped to my PC and copied to both my iPhone and iPad, and I keep the disc in the car, and play it whenever I’m driving somewhere. There is something so epically masterful about this compilation of music that I’m pretty sure I could listen to it for the rest of my life. In fact, if my life had a soundtrack, I think this is the music I would want.

I knew the moment I heard the opening track to Borderlands 2 that I was in for a real treat, and that track (Ascent) wasn’t even created by Jesper Kyd. Kyd is responsible for about half the tracks on this disc while Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan take credit for the other half. Raison Varner takes credit for the 19th track (Bandit Slaughter). Despite bouncing around between various composers, the soundtrack has a slick seamless quality to it, even when you switch from an energetic thumping almost tribal track to something with a more western vibe. Some tracks are more ambient and subtly tweak your mental and emotional state while others can cause you to seriously violate the speed limit if listening to while driving.

Unlike most of my music reviews I have yet to finish the game that inspired the music, but I am eagerly anticipating reaching the parts in the game that will have me hearing these awesome tracks once again. Some of the music is so vibrant and even DJ-like in an underground rave kind of way that I can’t even imagine what will be happening in the game when I do.

Borderlands 2 has quickly shot to the top of my list of all-time favorite soundtracks, movie, game or otherwise. The music is so good and so diverse it will fill you with the energy of a six-pack of Red Bulls and when you hit the last track you will welcome the first, so you can begin the ride all over again.

You can purchase your copy from Sumthing Else Music Works, Amazon, or digitally from iTunes or any other digital music site, and I highly recommend you do. One listen to this CD and it will become the soundtrack to your life as well.

Trine 2: Golbin Menace DLC Review – PC

With stunning visuals and truly diabolical puzzles, Trine 2 was one of my absolute favorite PC games of 2011. Now our heroic trio is thrust back into action with the new Goblin Menace DLC, adding six new crafty missions set in even more breathtaking (and one breath-holding) fantasy locations.

We hook up with Amadeus the Wizard, Pontius the Knight, and Zoya the Thief kicking back in the local pub looking rather bored, but not for long as Goblins invade the bar and our heroes must spring into action once again to save the land and rescue the fair maiden from the invading green menace.

There are no tutorials in Goblin Menace. The game assumes you have played the original and are fluent with the various skills and controls for each of the three characters. At least the first part of the first level takes it easy on you, so you can get back up to speed if it’s been a while. All of your existing upgrades are still in place, so you can use all your new earned experience to fill out any missing skills.

Gameplay is pretty much the same as the core game, only now you find yourself in new locations like a burning desert, an oriental city floating on flying mountains, or even worse, the belly of a giant sandworm so visually repulsive you can almost smell it. Each new location is more impressive than the last. While your worst enemy is always the environment and your ability to solve the puzzles, there are more than a few enemy encounters and challenging boss fights, and as before, there are numerous secrets and areas that will require the assistance of a co-op partner.

Feel free to read my original review for Trine 2 for more details on the core gameplay, but as far as this DLC is concerned, expect six new levels and about four hours of the same quality gaming and mind-blowing visuals you already experienced in the original, and if you are still on the fence, check out these 30 exclusive screenshots from the DLC.

Darksiders II Soundtrack Review

Over the past decade, soundtrack CD’s have become my favorite music genre; partly because music without lyrics is much easier to listen to while I do other things, and partly because it is a great way to relive the original game (or movie) experience. Much like a smell can trigger a specific memory, certain music cues can trigger your favorite moments from a past visual experience.

I knew the moment I heard the opening theme to Darksiders II that this was a soundtrack I just had to have, and the deeper I got into the game the bigger, and better, and more epic each music cue seemed to get.  Jesper Kyd is in top form with his latest masterpiece that sent shivers down my spine while playing the game and continues to do so while listening to the score outside the game…even as I type this review.

Darksiders II is a unique game, mixing in fast-paced action with an extremely rich universe and compelling narrative, and Jesper Kyd manages to tune each of his tracks to fit with the current situation whether it be the calming melodies of freedom and exploration as your explore the sprawling exterior maps, or perhaps something more intense and a bit dangerous as you dive deeper into an ancient dungeon or descend into the Kingdom of the Dead.  The game presents so many dynamic opportunities for both dramatic and visual diversity, and Jesper steps up to meet each one with a unique blend of tribal beats and soothing strings, many making use of Celtic-inspired themes and instruments such as flutes, bagpipes and specialty strings like fiddles, guitars, and banjos.   He also manages to drop in some pulsating battle music complete with choral chants that you’d expect in a Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

The game is clearly divided into two main themes; the land of the living and the land of the dead, and the score clearly dictates the appropriate mood of hope and despair for each.   The 26 tracks are laid out in a thematic way that is so seamless after listening to what I thought was just the first song for several minutes I was thinking “this is a really long track” only to see I was actually on track 5.  With the exception of a few major theme changes, most of the songs just blend together into a single musical event, and if you have already played the game you will most certainly have significant visual recall to many of your favorite moments as you listen to this soundtrack.

If you’ve already played Darksiders II then you already know just how fantastic and inspirational the music can get, and if you want to relive those emotions and continue to replay your favorite moments from the game in your head then you won’t find a better way to do so than popping this soundtrack into your home or car audio system and joining Jesper Kyd on his visionary musical adaptation of Heaven, Hell, and everything in between.

Darksiders II is now one of my top five videogame soundtracks of all time, and you can purchase your copy on iTunes or at   www.amazon.com/ .

Starhawk and Sorcery Soundtrack Review

From time to time we get the chance to review some music here at Game Chronicles; usually of the soundtrack variety and almost always game related. Recently, I had the chance to review two impressive soundtracks from two equally impressive PlayStation 3 games, Starhawk and Sorcery.

Over the past decade, soundtrack CD’s have become my favorite music genre; partly because music without lyrics is much easier to listen to while I do other things, and partly because it is a great way to relive the original game (or movie) experience. Much like a smell can trigger a specific memory, certain music cues can trigger your favorite moments from a past visual experience, and the soundtracks for Starhawk and Sorcery do just that.

STARHAWK – Featuring Original Music by Christopher Lennertz

Starhawk is a unique title, both in its game design and its story premise, taking an interplanetary action-shooter strategy game and tossing in a bit of Wild West flavor not unlike one of my favorite Sci-Fi TV shows, Firefly. There is no mistaking the western influence in this outstanding soundtrack whose first few opening tracks all feature very traditional western guitars, harmonicas, and classic genre themes that could easily be mistaken for the soundtrack to Red Dead Redemption. As you make your way deeper into the 28-track list there is a subtle shift into some more sci-fi themed music with thumping bass beats and synthesizer parts, but award-winning composer, Christopher Lennertz (Mass Effect 3, Gun) always seems to work in a few bars of western flavor to keep the music rooted in the core theme of the story. Some of the music is calm and soothing while other tracks ramp up the energy, recreating vivid memories of action-packed space battles or intense planetside missions where I was defending a town. Whether it’s complementing the narrative cutscene panels or adding an aural punch to the blazing action, the soundtrack for Starhawk is as epic as the gameplay.

SORCERY – Featuring Original Music by Mark Mancina

Sorcery is the PlayStation 3 Move game that Harry Potter wanted to be. It featured a young boy that you controlled by waving your magic wand (Move controller) around in very specific patterns to cast spells to defeat enemies and navigate lush fantasy worlds. The score that Mark Mancina has created for this game not only captures that distinct flavor of fantasy and magic, it does so while rivaling bigger budget soundtracks like The Lord of the Rings. Several tracks have that “big orchestra” sound and majestic themes while other melodies will have you reliving your favorite emotional story moments or intense spellcasting battles, and don’t be surprised to find a bit of refreshing Scottish influence in many of the tracks that gives the game a bit of added culture. The 28-track list is nicely divided into specific places and encounters including the climactic final encounter with the Nightmare Queen. Some of the tracks are a bit short, seeming to end just as they are getting started, but overall, the linear nature of the track layout and the evolving tempo and themes makes this soundtrack feel more like a movie score than one for a video game.

Both soundtracks are currently available at www.lalalandrecords.com and are also being offered on www.amazon.com/ individually or as part of specialty themed bundles. Whether you listen to music in the car, while walking, exercising, or just lounging around the house, Starhawk and Sorcery offer a great listening experience in your everyday life, and if you enjoyed playing either or both of these games then I highly recommend these amazing soundtracks as a great way to relive the excitement and sense of adventure in musical form.

Gears of War 3 Soundtrack Review

Games are becoming more like movies every day with massive budgets that attract top Hollywood talent to do the voices and big-name composers to do the music.  There is no title more anticipated this year than Gears of War 3, and Steve Jablonsky has done an amazing job creating the remarkable score for that game that frequently achieves epic levels of awesomeness, full of emotion and power that seldom, if ever. backs down.

The Gears of War 3 soundtrack features 31 tracks (75 mins) that kicks off with a track called “Restless” that pretty much informs you of where this is all going.  It reminded me a lot of the fantastic sci-fi themes from the 80’s, but when “Gears Keep Turning”, the second track, started I was catapulted 20 years in time to something more futuristic, but no less epic; a unique blend of past Gears of War music infused with a bit of Deus Ex or TRON.

I have yet to play the game so I can’t confirm if the names of the tracks actually reference locations or levels within the game, but you can definitely tell which songs accompany the action and gameplay and which songs set the mood for the cutscenes.

The score is epically large with an underlying military theme that perfectly suits the Gears and their battle to save humanity.   It cleverly blends themes from past games and enhances them with new ideas.   Jablonsky makes some bold decisions with the pacing, as well as instrument choices, and especially the effective use of choral parts to enhance a particular moment.

Steve Jablonsky was the perfect choice to compose this movie-quality soundtrack.  He skillfully creates a consistent theme between pasts works (that he, himself didn’t even compose), and his uncanny ability to tell a story through music are undeniable.

I look forward to playing the actual game and hearing how all this music slips into place within the grand scheme of things, and I will be sure to update this article when I do, but meanwhile, if you enjoy exciting, emotional, and often, quite epic music, then you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy of the Gears of War 3 soundtrack.  It’s the most excitement you can have with Gears of War 3 without playing the game.