There’s not much to say about Bear McCreary that I haven’t already said here, here, here or here among other places. The young composer made his name scoring the hugely popular Battlestar Gallactica series, and has since scored Eureka, Human Target, Caprica, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and The Walking Dead. He’s the kind of composer that has a fanbase. It’s a very focused fanbase – the kind of viewer that enjoys shows like Terminator and The Walking Dead. So it makes sense that McCreary would fit right in composing for a popular videogame franchise.

The third-person shooter style of SOCOM 4 fits McCreary well, given that he’s used to composing for television (where everything is third-person). As explained by Zipper Interactive’s Jeremy Dunham, the story line is fairly straightforward: “A militant revolutionary has unexpectedly seized control in an important South Asian country. As the Ops Com, your mission is to command an elite five-man squad charged with stopping his aggressive agenda before it’s too late.” It sounds like the plot of an episode of something McCreary might score on television… well, if it included aliens… or robots.

But McCreary jumps into the world of videogame music not by adapting to it but by having it adapt to his style. In short, this is one of the most elaborate and fully imagined musical landscapes for a videogame since, well, ever. Using woodwinds and expressive string instruments, along with the exotic gamelan (an elaborate set of instruments – and sometimes vocalists – that are grouped together as one ensemble). And just like a film score, there’s rising and falling action, tension, excitement, adventure, and even a little bit of emotion. Perhaps the fade between the tracks “Rendezvous in the Mountains” and “Clawhammer’s Betrayal” best captures the unique game/movie vibe that this album manages to pull off. Starting off with persistent percussion and a few strings, the first track builds the tension slowly before petering out towards the end and exploding into action at the start of the second track. It’s a moment like this that blurs the line between what a movie score is and what a videogame score is/can be.

Luckily La-La Land Records, the releasers of the album, are not skimping on tracks. With almost two hours of music spanning 25 tracks, this is more than a full-length album, and more music than is usually even included in a film soundtrack. Even if you’re not a fan of score music, this is the kind of album that might make you change your mind. It’s energetic and exciting without becoming empty and overly action-filled. Well done, Bear, now get back to The Walking Dead so we can get a new season out there.

Zach’s Rating: A
Perfect For: Pretending to be refined by listening to a score album when you’re really listening to videogame music
Stay Away if: You’re expecting music similar to the past SOCOM games

To purchase the soundtrack to SOCOM 4, visit Amazon

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