Game music: Titanfall

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I’ve never played Titanfall and since it’s multiplayer-only the odds of me ever playing are effectively zero, anti-social misanthrope that I am. Still, that’s no barrier to enjoying the music.

After the marketing blitz I’m not sure it’s possible to be in any way interested in video games and not know all about Titanfall. So when I tell you that the soundtrack is exactly like you imagine, you know just what I mean. But if that’s not enough of a hint, how about that it was composed by Stephen “Call of Duty 4” Barton?

The quality and production values are beyond question. This is a well-written, well-produced album as befits something as quintessentially Triple-A as Titanfall. There’s no doubt that Barton has written a very good score, full of martial beats and tribal drums. Strings and brass add sweeping orchestrals to round out the “this is a big war game” theme so popular these days. There’s actually very little in the way of sci-fi in this soundtrack, considering the nature of the game, so it’s much more Call of Duty than Halo. And this is where the whole thing gets slippery.

Familiar? Or Generic?

The decision to keep the sci-fi theme low-key was in keeping with the nature of the game. Yes, it’s a futuristic jet-pack vs mech parkour-em-up, but as Microsoft, EA and Respawn know very well, modern-day or near-future shooters are where their biggest target demographic live. Titanfall, as more or less every review has noted, is rather friendly to newcomers for a multiplayer game and it was clearly designed to be comfortable, familiar and welcoming, bringing as many people into the Xbox One fold as possible. And the music reflects this. It’s a very good soundtrack, enjoyable to listen to and perfectly fitting for the game, but because of that it’s also exceedingly generic. It could be the music for any of a hundred war games, shooters, or films. The score says “war”, not “Titanfall”. It doesn’t stand out, it doesn’t distinguish itself, it doesn’t evoke memories. It’s a great album but as a soundtrack it’s merely functional.

The Titanfall soundtrack is available now from Google Play Music and Amazon, among others.

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