Crysis 2 Original Videogame Soundtrack: Be Fast!

Crysis 2 Original Videogame Soundtrack: Be Fast!. Front. Click to zoom.
Crysis 2 Original Videogame Soundtrack: Be Fast!
Composed by Борислав Славов / Ханс Циммер / Тилман Силеску
Published by E.A.R.S.
Release type Game Soundtrack - Official Release
Format 1 Digital - 16 tracks
Release date April 26, 2011
Duration 00:29:12
Genres Classical: Modern / Classical: Orchestral Music
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Another entry into one of the most acclaimed FPS franchises, Crysis 2 was met with particular anticipation after its predecessor Crysis had raised the bar for first person shooters and had set a new visual benchmark for PC games in general. Ultimately, Crysis 2 mostly lived up to expectations without garnering quite as overwhelming reviews as its prequel. Still, blockbuster sales ensured that more graphic bonanzas from developer Crytek would certainly follow.

Musically, the Far Cry/Crysis series of games has had a checkered history, going from the colourful world music of Far Cry 2 to Inon Zur's disappointing score for Crysis. Naturally, anticipation for Crysis 2 spilled over and build up interest in the game's soundtrack as well. Tilman Sillescu of German game audio company Dynamedion and Boris Slavov began work on the score, but after five months, they were joined by a third composer. His name was revealed only some weeks before the game's release in March 2011 and predictably, the announcement increased the buzz around Crysis 2's soundtrack tenfold: the additional composer turned out to be Hollywood score veteran Hans Zimmer. According to Crysis 2's Senior Audio Director Campbell Askew, this move was a “a natural response to our desire to achieve the best cinematic quality for the game” – although the additional press coverage following the announcement probably didn't hurt either.

Speculation ran rampant for a while about how big Zimmer's involvement in the score's creation had been and how much music he would actually contribute. Ultimately, his role turned out to be similar to the one he had held on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: Zimmer, in collaboration with Lorne Balfe, would provide the main themes, while Sillescu and Slavov wrote the bulk of the score. Zimmer's involvement was likely also the reason for Crysis 2's soundtrack to be released not just as a digital release, but also as a more extensive double disc album from soundtrack label La-La Land Records. Surprisingly though, only a month after the first digital release and on the same date the double album was made available, EA's game music label E.A.R.S. released a second digital album that covered more music from the La-La Land release. This review refers to that second digital album.


If you're not keen on a rant about music labels' release policies and are reading this to just find out about the quality of the music on Crysis 2 Original Videogame Soundtrack: Be Fast!, you better skip this paragraph, because it's impossible not to say a few words about the mess surrounding the various Crysis 2 album releases. When Crysis 2's first digital release (Crysis 2 Original Videogame Soundtrack) was published, game music fans had all the reason to believe that this soundtrack album was like most other score releases: a compilation of music from the finished product, ideally a kind of "Best of" selection. And for everybody who wanted more, there was always the La-La Land Records double album. But that idea of a "Best of" selection was called into question when a comparison between the track lists of the digital release and the double album revealed that the digital release was simply the first third of the physical soundtrack. And now, Crysis 2 Original Videogame Soundtrack: Be Fast! mainly covers the double album's second third, so it would have been more truthful to call the digital releases "Vol. 1" and "Vol. 2". It's not exactly false advertising, but it's definitely a simple money-making exercise that has created a rather messy situation. You can either get the double album for $14 or you can download the first two thirds of that album for $8, which effectively devalues the double album considerably. In either case, EA's release tactic leaves a bitter aftertaste.

The absurdity of the situation continues and manifests itself in this album's name. It may be called Crysis 2 Original Videogame Soundtrack: Be Fast!, but ironically, what the listener finds on this album is the majority of the double album's quieter, more atmospheric moments. Fortunately, that's a good thing, as these compositions were the stronger part of the physical release, outshining the album's mostly stale action tracks. These more subdued cues not only successfully communicate the bleak, downcast atmosphere the score as a whole was aiming for. They also develop some emotional pull that helped to sustain at least to a degree the double album's considerable running time. True, some of these quieter pieces fail to set themselves apart. “Dead Man Walking” meanders aimlessly between deep string ostinati, looming brass chords and alien electronica. “Where Is The Exit” has a non-descript piano figure lingering among a bed of echoing electronic beats and remains simply bland. Also, just to make things a bit more complicated, “Where Is The Exit” is an album-exclusive that's not available on the La-La Land release. Argh...

But these duds are balanced by some of Crysis 2's most interesting pieces and credit must be given to Be Fast! to isolate these cues and bring them together on one album – although that probably happened by mistake. “Contamination”, for example, elegantly generate tension out of the juxtaposition of clashing musical elements. The piece places a wandering, lonely piano melody amidst a hostile environment of suffocating, menacing electronic textures, communicating the tragedy that has befallen the destroyed and occupied New York. “Dystopian Nightmares” evokes an even stronger sense of unease, with its ear-catching use of modernist violin playing techniques such as layering natural harmonics and bowing behind the bridge. The resulting creepy tones are quite fascinating and actually a lot more effective than the dissonant sound effects that characterise Crysis 2's alien invaders. And then there are those tracks that put the focus on emotive string melodies, “Shadowzone” and “Nanosuit 2- Crynet Systems”. On the first piece, the melodic content is sometimes lackadaisical, but still manages to tuck at the heartstrings. And “Nanosuit 2 – Crynet Systems”' surprisingly layered, elegiac string melodies are backed by a decent amount of counterpoint. These compositions pack a considerably greater emotional punch than “Semper Fi”, whose portentous, overwrought string and brass chord progressions want to let you know that something really important is happening, without much success.

Crysis 2's full score suffered from a lack of a satisfying integration of interesting musical ideas. Often, these would come and go, without being developed sufficiently and impacting the score as a whole. A good number of the pieces that evidenced this issue are gathered on Be Fast! But since these isolated, interesting musical thoughts now occur on a 30-minute album – and not a 100-minute one – they shape the soundtrack a bit more and aren't as easily forgotten once the album finishes. And the listener will likely remember a number of such intriguing, albeit brief moments. “Rising Spear”'s swelling and ebbing opening violin figures effectively build to a powerful string chord progression over rasping brass, before the track ends rather soon. “Flooded Streets – Aquarium”'s generic opening segues into beautiful, shimmering Major string chord progressions that unfortunately don't have enough time to go anywhere. “In Obscurum”'s rambling atmospherics are interrupted by a light-hearted, bouncy woodwind motif that makes for a nice change of pace, but it's also a strange juxtaposition of moods. And then there are “Catastrophic Beauty” and “Devastation”, which feature melancholic, unexpected instrumental soli: on the first track on saxophone, while “Devastation” gives centre stage to a duduk. Neither track is hugely well developed, but they're both effective and provide colour and emotionality.

There are also some of Crysis 2's rather stereotypical action tracks to be found on Be Fast! They follow the rules of Remote Control film scores, with their hybridised electronic/orchestral sound, thumbing and slapping electronica, insisting ostinato string motifs, forceful percussion and melodic brass motifs. Most of them aren't more than just functional, but since they appear here in smaller doses than on the double album, they also don't wear the listener down as much. “Unsafe Haven” and “Alien Suite” are perfect examples of this kind of compositions. Their reasonably effective tones are set through with a number of hissing, whispering, sometimes guttural and generally unpleasant sound effects that seem to mimic the sounds that the alien invaders produce. It's hardly a novel idea, but these sounds give the compositions an edge they wouldn't posses otherwise, while not interrupting the music's flow too much. “Sinister Breed”, with some short pizzicato motifs at 1:25, is another example of a composition that includes a fetching idea without taking it anywhere. “Nano-Catalyst” is the album's most impressive – and briefest – action cue with its muscular, suitably dramatic rendition of Crysis 2's main theme. This album being but an excerpt of a longer release, of course one can't expect much thematic coherency or development during this album's running time. Then again, tight thematic structures weren't the double album's strong suit either.


Leaving all well justified misgivings about the release policy behind Crysis 2 Original Videogame Soundtrack: Be Fast! aside for a moment, this second digital Crysis 2 album turns out to be a more enjoyable listen than its predecessor and the more comprehensive double album. By focusing on the more emotional and creative compositions from that double album and leaving away much of the action tracks' tedium, the atmospheric Be Fast! is more diverting and engaging than its brethren. There are still significant issues with this album – intriguing ideas too often remain underdeveloped and even the best compositions here are simply "good" rather than "outstanding". But while nothing on Be Fast! will blow your mind, it's a step up from Crysis 2's other album iterations.


Music in game


Simon Elchlepp

Hans Zimmer (01)
Borislav Slavov (02, 03, 05, 07, 11, 15)
Tilman Sillescu (04, 06, 08~10, 12~14, 16)

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Album was composed by Борислав Славов / Ханс Циммер / Тилман Силеску and was released on April 26, 2011. Soundtrack consists of 16 tracks tracks with duration over about 30 minutes. Album was released by E.A.R.S..

Sounds like Classical - that's what we can say about this album.

CD 1

Hans Zimmer
Nanosuit 2- Crynet Systems
Borislav Slavov
Rising Spear
Borislav Slavov
Dead Man Walking
Tilman Sillescu
Borislav Slavov
Sinister Breed
Tilman Sillescu
Where Is The Exit
Borislav Slavov
Dystopian Nightmares
Tilman Sillescu
Catastrophic Beauty
Tilman Sillescu
Semper Fi
Tilman Sillescu
Flooded Streets - Aquarium
Borislav Slavov
In Obscurum
Tilman Sillescu
Tilman Sillescu
Tilman Sillescu
Alien Suite
Borislav Slavov
Unsafe Haven
Tilman Sillescu
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