Game Music

Uncharted 3 OST: No Deception Needed Here

January 4, 2012 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Uncharted 3 OST: No Deception Needed Hereon Twitter

I have always felt that Greg Edmonson is a wonderfully gifted composer. His work on the two previous Uncharted games saw a dramatic improvement from a competent score to an exceptional score by the time Uncharted 2 came along to wipe the floor with all its rivals. Regular readers of the site may already know that Edmonson had set awfully high expectations for his third Uncharted score after snagging the coveted and prestigious BAFTA award in 2010. Unsurprisingly, this year Edmonson may be up against some of the same franchises in Batman and Modern Warfare.

But, with great respect to the aforementioned franchises, if Greg Edmonson should be against them again, it should not be a close contest. Find out why!

Greg Edmonson’s score for Uncharted 3 is easily the most diverse, musically ornate, and thrilling soundtrack of the franchise. “Nate’s Theme 3.0” comes in with several times the bombast and energy its two predecessor showed, adding some string bass to the opening drum pattern. Additionally, the eight-note brass heroics are played with far more fervor, illustrated with a marcato-like emphasis and separation of the notes, as opposed to the legato nobility the previous entries displayed. Although it might seem to be that the effect is minor and the change negligible, the effect it has on the listener is anything but.

“Atlantis of the Sands” introduces us to the soundtrack’s newest theme. This modal figure provides a Middle-Eastern answer to the American bravura of Nate’s theme. Edmonson employs similar rhythmic tropes as he does in Nate’s theme to emphasize the duality; a fine action track. The theme is slowed, filled out, and expanded upon in the dreary follow-up, “The Setup.” Beginning with a solo cello, the previous theme gives way to the hand drum-laden and mysterious track. The horns, always representing the nobility and the side of good, hang over the brooding, low strings, creating an ambient tension. Creator Amy Hennig was also quick to say, “What I liked about Greg’s Firefly music was that he had an interesting way of mixing his metaphors. He’d take traditional melodies, and then combine them with non-traditional ethnic instruments, using them in ways you’d never head before.” Edmonson continues to flex these muscles throughout the healthy score. Even with this, it is not long before the blasts of brass attack the listener/player again in “East End Boys.” This plodding and rhythmic piece provides a thin framework underneath, but it allows the brass to simply explode above as the strings egg them on.

Uncharted 3 gives the player a chance to glimpse into the childhood of the protagonist, Nathan Drake, and the score is there to hold his hand through it. “Small Beginnings” follows young Nate with classical guitar and similar thematic ideas, but on a smaller scale. The themes of young Nate would do a disservice to the character had they overwhelmed the themes of his older self. Edmonson never allows the theme to get to that point and we are left with a pleasant and – for lack of a better word – young musical of version of Nathan Drake. “Bazaar Brawl” gives the listener no Western harmonies on which to lean and only uses authentic-sounding modes and instruments to provide the background for a great fight scene (Azam Ali is credited with this fantastic number).

Greg Edmonson did not arrive at this party alone. Bringing Iranian-born singer, Azam Ali (of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time fame), her husband, Loga Ramin Torkian, and his scoring team starring Clint Bajakian (who is credited in the liner notes with composing the “stringers and transitions”), Jonathan Mayer, and Scott Hanau to the production, and the team succeeds mightily. “Secret Orders” encapsulates the collaborative feel of the soundtrack as well as the entire feel of the game into a three-minute gem and is worth the soundtrack’s weight in gold.

I had always felt that Drake was a character far too whimsical for such a serious, noble, and dark-toned soundtrack as was delivered in the first two games. The musical depth and value of the soundtrack was never in question – simply its application to such a scoundrel of a character. In the case of Uncharted 3, the character and game have taken a shift to the darker side while Edmonson turned the volume up on every facet of its music and production. The resultant effect is a fine marriage of drama, music, and action worthy of being alongside the year’s best.

Greg Edmonson’s Uncharted 3 score is an organic, earthy, and arousing score that adds as much to the setting and flavor of the series as the sand in Drake’s face. Clocking in at just over two hours, this two-disc set is limited to only 3000 copies. Pick it up!

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