2011 seems to be a year full of comeback stories. Storied franchises like BloodRayne, Marvel vs. Capcom, and even Duke Nukem (no, I can’t believe it, either) have all returned after some years in hiatus. Not to be outdone, Square Enix-backed Eidos Montreal updated its beloved franchise, Deus Ex, with a blockbuster prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Though much of last year and the early part of this year allowed for game developers to entrust their sequels’ soundtracks to the franchises’ original composers (i.e. Bioshock 2, Fallout: New Vegas, Halo: REACH, Dragon Age II, Dead Space 2, God of War III) with surprisingly winning results, much of the rest of this year hasn’t been as kind to the original baton-holders. The Red Faction, Crysis, and Mafia franchises have all gone the way of bringing in different composers than their respective franchises’ previous outings. Now, the Deus Ex franchise joins this band of IP’s – but does it have equally successful results?
Canadian composer, Michael McCann, takes over duties as composer from the team of Alexander Brandon, Dan Gardopée, Michiel van den Bos, and Reeves Gabrels. Although the original Deus Ex soundtrack was reasonably well-received upon its original release, a recent listening will find its sounds dated and a little square as compared to the lavish production of game soundtracks a decade later. Perhaps the same will be said of Deus Ex: Human Revolution‘s soundtrack in ten years, but – for the foreseeable future – its soundtrack is an enjoyable, electronic punch.
Starting with the main theme, “Icarus,” beginning with a solo female voice and quickly accompanied an electronic ostinato. Growing quickly and finally culminating in a pleasing sequence, this theme is enough to propel the soundtrack forward and sets the tone of the dark, electronically-themed future Detroit. “Main Menu” is a strong and fitting theme. Cool and composed, this track found me leaving the game on the main menu screen several minutes longer than I normally would. It presents a theme that, though still dark, maintains a sense of hope and order in the difficult future. Later, “Limb Clinic” presents a haunting and minimalist amalgamation of strings and subtle voices to accompany the main character, Adam Jensen, as he explores the enhancements his augmentations allow him.
I am not a fan of hyperbole, but I would be remiss if I did not refer to some of these subtle and other not-so-subtle ambient ideas as beautiful music, because, there truly are some beautiful and exciting moments in this soundtrack. I would also be remiss if I did not find a theme or two bearing a striking resemblance to previous science fiction soundtracks, namely Tron: Legacy. Even the chord progression and orchestration of the main theme, “Icarus,” has a very similar sensibility and motion to Tron: Legacy‘s opening winner, “The Grid.” Purists may take exception to this, but being that they are both excellent tracks, I really didn’t mind.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution‘s soundtrack is a tremendous upgrade over its predecessors and is a satisfying, unobtrusive, solid score that enhances the action it is accompanying with precise and swift strikes to the same sensibilities the setting, characters, and universe present. Anyone debating as to which version of the game should definitely spring for the Augmented Edition because of this soundtrack. Regrettably, the only version of the score available at this time is the thirty-minute disc accompanying the collector’s edition of the game. According to Michael McCann’s website, details on a standalone soundtrack will be announced soon. But, it is only regrettable in that I simply want more of this music. In the end, Michael McCann delivers a score that is sleek, melodic, hauntingly beautiful, yet – ironically enough – needs no augmentation.Tags: Deus Ex, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Michael McCann, Reviews, Square Enix, Tron: Legacy