game score

Soundtrack review: World of Warcraft: Reign of chaos (V.A. – 2002)

wow_chaos

“Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos” is a high fantasy real-time strategy video game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment, and was released in July 2002. It is the second sequel to Warcraft: Orcs & Humans, and it is the third game set in the Warcraft fictional universe. An expansion pack, The Frozen Throne, was released in July 2003. Warcraft III contains four playable races: Humans and Orcs, which had previously appeared in Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, and the Night Elves and Undead, which were introduced to the Warcraft mythos in this installment. Tracy W. Bush, Derek Duke, Jason Hayes and Glenn Stafford wrote the score.

The beginning of the score is atmospheric. I always imagine the Warcraft scores as epic and violent battle hymns but the music was written for a game not a movie so it should help the gamer get a better feel of the worlds in which he will go through these adventures. “Arrival at Kalimdor” is a gentle and mysterious cue which includes oriental influences, woodwind instruments and vocal parts that remind me of James Horner’s “Avatar”. I like the feeling of settling in that “Awakening” gives to me; it’s a beautiful reflective piece I instantly connect with. I can’t escape the feeling of being in the jungle and I remember how this game is only played on open terrain, in large plains and fields. The music adapts to this and establishes a clear identity.

“Reign of chaos” is a quiet and mysterious composition. The music is mostly exploratory or investigative and keeps me alert, on the edge and eager to discover this world. Sometimes the music blends with the sound effects, other times exciting buildups like the ones in “Frostmourne” and “Lordaeron Fall” make me aware that something big is happening.

In a score like this a cue like “Cinematic suite” stands out. It comes at me from nowhere with chants and violent choirs that alternate with melodic and reflective motifs. This is the truly epic core of the album. I get a few goose bumps when almost Russian sound choirs invade the cue. This is Jason Hayes’ contribution to the album and for me it’s the best part; it’s a rewarding journey in itself and it’s the heart of the world explored in the rest of the cues.

For a fan of ambient and atmospheric like me, “Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos” is a fascinating exploration of sound. I like how it feels to listen to it and I got lost very easily in this composition. It’s a very comfortable sound for me and it helped me relax and gather my thoughts. Add to that the few well placed epic buildups and you’ve got a happy game music fan.

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 35 / 73

Album excellence: 46%

Highlights:

Arrival at Kalimdor

Awakening

Cinematic Suite

Frostmourne

Lordaeron Fall

Reign Of Chaos

The calm

 

 

 

 

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).

2 Comments

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  • You should listen to the opening cues of all World Of Warcraft scores. They are all like the cinematic cue but even better.

    Also the “cinematic trailer” cues are usually the second or third tracks on these albums and are amazing as well.