Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is the latest adventure outing for this exciting franchise for PlayStation 3. It is already garnering many accolades for its design and gameplay. The music, by returning series composer Greg Edmonson, had many heading to iTunes for downloads on its initial release, covered here. However, note that a superior physical release was made by Sumthing Else Music Works in February 2010 and features three bonus tracks.
It's been a while since Greg Edmonson crafted such perfect scores for the short-lived Firefly series. So it was good to hear the opening strains of "Nate's Theme 2.0" and see that the composer's penchant for strong melodic content and great action music is still so engaging. There are some intriguing electric violin melodic ideas that are somehow blended with a vocalist to create almost a totally new instrumental sound. This time he is even able to offer a fuller orchestral backdrop to his writing.
Ethnic instrumental combinations, reminiscent of the blends the composer used in the aforementioned score, are also a highlight of this score as well. "Breaking and Entering" is an especially great example of this and stands among the finest of the Uncharted series' cues. "Desperate Times" meanwhile features one of the more heartbreakingly beautiful melodic settings and shifts into an intriguing semi-Middle Eastern sound towards its final bars.
But it is the superb action music support that Edmonson provides that will make listening to, and playing, Uncharted 2 an exhilarating experience. The variety of how the various thematic threads appear help keep the music itself from losing steam and there is less electronic and design elements in the music also allowing specific instrumental colors to show through. "Bustlin' Chops" and "Warzone" are among the finest examples of such orchestral action cues with their brassy leads and percussive drive.
Fans of the Firefly scores will hear plenty of close musical cousins in this music that can be big and ballsy and instantly shift into intimate folk-like musical sounds. The soulful erhu solos add a haunting quality that plays well against the unsettling minor mode melodic ideas that often feel bittersweet. Some intriguing percussion and other effects in "Broken Paradise" create just enough of an unsettled feeling and begin several minutes of music that continues to grow in intensity. A concluding urban mix of musical ideas, "The Road to Shambhala" by Carmen Rizzo, rounds off the release.
It still boggles the mind that some of our best action scores are being written for video games, but as long as the music is available to track down lovers of this sort of music will have plenty to enjoy. This superb release is easily one of the better game scores of the year and certainly deserves its recent award accolades. It's well worth purchasing, whether in the original digital form or the full physical release with its three bonus tracks.