Steve Jablonsky – Gears of War 2 *Review In English*

“There is no need to be a video game fan to be able to enjoy it. If you enjoy Steve Jablonsky’s epic musical elements from his previous works, this score is certainly for you.”

Label: Sumthing Distribution

Years ago, I remembered I used to think only that some well-known film music composers were brought to their high-profile position nowadays through being video game music composers. The fact is undeniably true and it is always exciting to know how they have struggled to become whoever they are today. On the other hand, things can be opposite and it is still exciting things to know when some film music composers have to learn and adapt their style of composition to be video game music composers and reach the requirement of another market in the music industry.

GEARS OF WAR 2 is a third-person shooter video game developed by Epic Games. I admit that I never play any of GAME OF WAR video games but I am introduced it by one composer whose name is Steve Jablonsky. After his epic achievement in scoring TRANSFORMERS and D-WAR in 2007, Jablonsky continued his epic style of composition in GEARS OF WAR 2 in a year later. One more thing to know, this is not his first video game score but COMMAND & CONQUER 3 is, with his friend of Remote Control Productions, Trevor Morris. However, the approach of GEAR OF WAR 2 is expectedly different from his COMMAND & CONQUER 3 which heavily focused on the use of synthesizer. By doing research about the previous score a little bit and listening to some clips of the first score, I have found that the score for GEAR OF WAR is composed by Kevin Riepl who has already set a pretty high standard for the series with a grand epic orchestra and synthetic sound. I would have never thought Jablonsky will match the series if he still did some cheap synthesized scores for Michael Bay’s remake-horror flicks and subnormal orchestral score with a few outstanding cues like THE ISLAND. But with two obvious successes of what he is capable of that I have mentioned above, I know that he is now ready for it.

First of all, I hope Riepl’s fans will be satisfied a bit after the change of composer if they know that Jablonsky doesn’t ignore the original theme. Instead of throwing it away, he chooses to make a new direction of theme based on it (to see the clearer picture, you may want to think of the theme he has composed for the remake of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, which Charles Bernstein’s original theme can also be sensed). The main theme is heard immediately at the opening track Return of the Omen which sets an atmospheric eternity by deep and airy choir along with soft percussions before the grand orchestra as well as synthetic sounds in Jablonsky’s style will roll powerfully in Hope Runs Deep.

After that, the score doesn’t seem to lose it energy much. It goes on delivering action-packed, suspenseful, moving, and dramatic moments with rich musical instruments and the variations of the theme. To give you some examples; Armored Prayer is an elegant track with encouraging motifs, especially the intro, to make you feel as if you are preparing for a big moment or something. Hell Breaks Loose is an aggressive track with catchy motifs and the choir is a hell yes just like its title! By the way, I can really tell you that many of the one-to-two-minute tracks here are just like killer tracks, like the crazier choir and the thrill ride of music in Frenzy for instance. With Sympathy is truly a highlight for dramatic cue. It is dark and atmospheric enough to be haunting and the soprano part is going to give you a chill! Finale is a decent shorter reprise of Hope Runs Deep which you can fully appreciate the main theme again before Autumn of Mankind will end the album with calmness of a short piano solo playing the theme.

In conclusion, with 1-hour running time (though it is about 7-minute less than the previous score), GEARS OF WAR 2 is an energetic score for the great war zone with grand orchestration, especially the choir, along with suitable synthesizer’s sound which make it very fun to listen to and it doesn’t make me feel like listening to an overly long rousing music. From my point of view, there is no need to be a video game fan to be able to enjoy it. If you enjoy Steve Jablonsky’s epic musical elements from his previous works, this score is certainly for you. For me, I would like to say that it is something I can really revisit more than once and I hope you will feel that way after you try it.

Tracklist

01. Return of the Omen (*****)

02. Hope Runs Deep (*****)

03. Green as Grass (****)

04. Expectations (****)

05. Finally, a Lead  (****)

06. Armored Prayer (*****)

07. Hold Them Off (****)

08. Derrick Chase (****)

09. Building Thunder (***)

10. Hell Breaks Loose (*****)

11. Bedlam (*****)

12. Breakneck (*****)

13. Landown (****)

14. Racing to Extinction (****)

15. If They Can Ride Em (*****)

16. Hollow (****)

17. Unexpected Changes (****)

18. March of the Horde (*****)

19. Highway (****)

20. Denizens (****)

21. With Sympathy (*****)

22. Insurmountable Odds (****)

23. Bump in the Night (***)

24. Frenzy (*****)

25. Outpost (***)

26. Finale (*****)

27. Autumn of Mankind (****)

Final Score: 9

Buy It @Boomerang

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