game score

Soundtrack review: Commandos Soundtrack Collection (Mateo Pascual – 2014)

In a year dominated by epic and majestic game score releases, the Commandos collection is the stealth green beret who doesn’t make much noise, but is the most effective.

 

Music is my favorite and most used time machine. If people are still complaining that time travel hasn’t been invented, it means they are not using music right. I have placed musical bookmarks in many instances of my life and the main theme from the first Commandos is one of the strongest. When that beautiful, almost whisper like synth motif starts, emotions overflow me… I just hop in and there I am, greeting my younger self from November 1998. See how easy it was? It’s the same month as now… He’s at his desk, in his overheated room, leaned over the keyboard, studying the screen and carefully moving one of his few men, trying to hide the footstep marks from the snow. I am not greeting my younger self, of course, because I might break his concentration. I just watch him for a little while and once he saves his progress, I cause a computer reboot so he’d have to load the game again and I’ll get to hear that main theme.

“Commandos” were the smartest and hardest games available. They weren’t graphically spectacular like other games of the time, they weren’t explosive, but when “Behind enemy lines” and ”Beyond the call of duty” were released, they set themselves apart from any other game out there. Hands down, the first “Commandos” is my favorite game ever and the one I remember most vividly. I remember drawing mission maps in class so I could prepare my strategy for when I got home… I remember the Green Beret crawling, the noises, the voices, the mission briefings and hours spent simply planning one move. I remember hours of talking to my friends about how to solve the missions… it was the coolest thing we had ever seen. I remember “Commandos 2: Men of courage”, the most difficult game ever. I was done with college and working by then, but my first ever summer vacation from work I spent finishing that game. I had three weeks and two days and completed the last mission right at the end of it.

“White death” is playing in my ears now and I can see that grueling mission in my mind… ”Target Burma” is one of the cues that I wanted to have the most. That mission had a special feel to it. “Death caravan” is one of the highlights of this collection. The music of “Commandos 2”, just like the game, is more grown up than the one from “Beyond the call of duty”.

“Commandos 3” gets even more intense and epic, the progression of the sound is obvious. ”Strike force” is a beautiful head of the family, married and with children. “Ready of battle” and “A few good men” are epic orchestral anthems and I love listening to them…

…and yet it’s the sound of the beginning that I’ve been waiting to hear for so many years. That’s the one that echoes deeper within me and that’s my time machine… the simpler and more tender cues from the first score are the dearest to my heart.

Nostalgia and emotional connection aside, the music is brilliant. What’s not to like? We get the gentle and magic synth, we get inspirational female vocalizes, we get suspenseful tracks that remind me of the hours spend avoiding the view radius of the enemy soldiers and exciting electronic pulses that are among my favorites. I know these games were released at the very end of the 90s and beginning of the 00s, but the music is the younger and spoiled sister of the 80s and early 90s synch action scores. It fits right there with Commando or Terminator or even Zimmer’s early 90s scores. I love this sound, it’s probably my favorite ever, and Mateo Pascual brings it full force. This score is the kid who always hides and sneaks up on you. He likes to play hide and seek more than anything. Then he grows up and he doesn’t hide anymore.

The best year ever for game scores just got better and I received the most unexpected and wonderful bonus of 2014. In a year dominated by epic and majestic game score releases, the Commandos collection is the stealth green beret who doesn’t make much noise, but is the most effective. I wasn’t expecting this release and its impact is stronger because of it.  What would have made this release even more amazing would have been to have some of the sound effects at the end: the immortal “Finally, some action!” or “Yes sirs” we’ve all heard thousands of times while playing the game… I missed those, but I’d rather not have them here than ever hear the  “Alaaarm!!” cries again…

 

…I’ll run now and install “Behind enemy lines”… I’m sure my younger self from 16 years ago will help complete some missions…

Cue rating: 79 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 120 / 181

Album excellence: 66%

Highlights:

 

Main Theme (From “Beyond the Call of Duty”)

The Allied Forces Advance (From “Beyond the Call of Duty”)

The German March (From “Beyond the Call of Duty”)

The German Forces (From “Beyond the Call of Duty”)

Briefing (From “Beyond the Call of Duty”)

Dying Light (From “Beyond the Call of Duty”)

Eagle’s Nest (From “Beyond the Call of Duty”)

Peace Treaty / Enemy Threat (From “Beyond the Call of Duty”)

Waiting for Action (From “Beyond the Call of Duty”)

Thor’s Hammer (From “Beyond the Call of Duty”)

Studying the Battlefield (From “Beyond the Call of Duty”)

Credits (From “Beyond the Call of Duty”)

Beyond the Call of Duty Suite

Road to War: On the Road (From “Commandos 2”)

Road to War: Deployment (From “Commandos 2”)

Road to War: Attack (From “Commandos 2”)

I Don’t Want to Remember (From “Commandos 2”)

River Kwai (From “Commandos 2”)

A Storm Is Coming (From “Commandos 2”)

Night Guard (From “Commandos 2”)

In Memoriam (From “Commandos 2”)

Flying On the Water (From “Commandos 2”)

White Death (From “Commandos 2”)

Target: Burma (From “Commandos 2”)

Castle Colditz (From “Commandos 2”)

Danger Awaits (From “Commandos 2”)

Death Caravan (From “Commandos 2”)

Dawn At Savo Island (From “Commandos 2”)

Return of the Warrior (From “Commandos 2”)

Nightfall After the Battle (From “Commandos 2”)

Ambush (From “Commandos 2”)

Look Into the Shivering Horizon (From “Commandos 2”)

Dreaming Home (From “Commandos 2”)

Ready for a Dive (From “Commandos 2”)

Uncommon Men – Commandos III Main Theme

Dead Calm (From “Commandos 3”)

Der Wintersturm (From “Commandos 3”)

The Station (From “Commandos 3”)

Railway to Victory (From “Commandos 3”)

Uncommon Men (Short Version) [From “Commandos 3”]

Ready for Battle (From “Strike Force”)

A Few Good Men (From “Strike Force”)

A Battle to Fight (From “Strike Force”)

Nightmare or Reality? (From “Strike Force”)

In the Mood for War (From “Strike Force”)

The Touching Harangue (From “Strike Force”)

Silent, Skilful and Deadly (From “Strike Force”)

A Few Good Men (Live) [From “Strike Force”]

Turbulent Nightmare (Live) [From “Strike Force”]

Fighting the Battle (Live) [From “Strike Force”]

 

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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