One of the things I enjoy most about soundtrack reviews is how the music can subconsciously trigger mental images from the game (or movie). Of course this requires having experienced the content the soundtrack is meant to support. Sadly, for reasons I won’t go into here, we have yet to been able to play XCOM 2, so I am going into this review a bit blind. But it should be an interesting experience on just how accessible video game music can be even if you don’t play the game.
Tim Wynn was brought onboard to score the alien sequel. Wynn has an impressive list of credentials, and while I have played games and seen movies that he has worked on none of them has particularly stood out with maybe the exception of The Darkness II released back in 2012. XCOM 2 presents a unique challenge for Wynn in that a story of aliens taking over the earth has been done so many times, would it be possible to create a fresh take on music for such a stale premise?
Surprisingly enough, the answer is yes, and Wynn has created a unique blend of soothing futuristic orchestrations with heavy emphasis on synth – think Blade Runner meets TRON. In fact, without having ever experienced the game, there were several tracks that could have seamlessly been dropped into (or lifted out of) the latest TRON movie.
Over the course of the 29 tracks prepare for a rollercoaster ride of smooth ambient score and pulse-pounding electronic bass beats that could easily fill in as the soundtrack for a futuristic racing game. Be warned – if you listen to this soundtrack while driving please set your cruise control or you will likely find yourself doing triple digits. I particularly enjoyed how the tracks flowed together. If it weren’t for the gaps between tracks this entire soundtrack could easily pass for a single 67-minute experience.
There is a certain generic quality to the style of music in the XCOM 2 OST in that I could easily see this music being dropped into just about any type of game or movie. Nothing really limits it to the sci-fi genre, and that makes it perfect for listening to just about any time. The pulsating electronic beats fuel your adrenalin then the score does an abrupt 180 with a few minutes of soothing synth before taking you on its next musical adventure. The mix of rise and falls is executed with almost mathematical precision and can leave you breathless at times, but the music can just as easily slip into the background of your consciousness making this one of the most accessible soundtracks for listening to just about any time.
This is my first review for a Tim Wynn project and hopefully it won’t be my last. I am really impressed with the quality and range of the work in the XCOM 2 OST, and even without having played the game I can still totally recommend this soundtrack to any music lover who enjoys an eclectic mix of orchestrated themes with a heavy emphasis on synth and futuristic beats guaranteed to get your pulse racing.