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Soundtrack review: Starcraft II: Wings of liberty (various artists – 2008)

Game scores

Soundtrack review: Starcraft II: Wings of liberty (various artists – 2008)

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“StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty” is a military science fiction real-time strategy video game developed and released by Blizzard Entertainment. The game revolves around three species: the Terrans, human exiles from Earth; the Zerg, a super-species of assimilated life forms; and the Protoss, a technologically advanced species with vast mental powers. Wings of Liberty focuses on the Terrans, while the expansions Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void focus on the Zerg and Protoss, respectively. The game is set four years after the events of 1998’s StarCraft: Brood War, and follows the exploits of Jim Raynor as he leads an insurgent group against the autocratic Terran Dominion. The game includes both new and returning characters and locations from the original game. Usual suspects Russell  Brower, Derek Duke, Glenn Stafford, Russell Brower and Neal Acree wrote the score.

I like the title theme of this game because it has a “Top Gun” sounding opening  with the testosterone filled guitar motif. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though as the spectacular choirs make me think of epic legends. I am hooked on this score from the first minutes as I can almost imagine the scenes and game play. Both thrilling and emotional, “Wings of liberty” takes its place firmly among the best Blizzard game themes ever. This cue transcends game music and is closer to Star Wars level.

I imagine that Jim Raynor’s presence in the game is punctuated with Western style guitar motifs as they appear first time in “Public enemy”. We go from “Star Wars” to “A fistful of dollars” within seconds. As I listen to “Heaven’s devils” I feel as if this story follows a group of biker outlaws instead of various alien races.

There is a bit of imbalance between the quiet exploratory cues and the thunderous action tracks, and it’s not just the mood. For me pieces like “The deal” pale in comparison to the choral feast of “Escape from Mar Sara”. Once I’ve acquired the taste for epic I am not satisfied with the subtle from this score. The middle group I like; the mystic part of the score attracts me and makes me want to play the game. Cues like “The prophecy” and “First born” are solid pieces that I imagine make the game very immersive.

You can’t go wrong with a monster cue like “I, Mengsk”; it’s 10 minutes of adrenaline with a warm core of piano delight. There’s actually an aria sung by someone who sounds like Andrea Bocelli in the middle of this explosion of sound. I wonder how this music fits in the game, especially that strange interlude. The entire theme feels like an opera.

“Starcraft II: Wings of liberty” is a vast improvement over the first Starcraft score. That one had the retro element but the sequel is a spectacular blend of action and emotion that will satisfy every fan.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 31 / 67

Album excellence: 47%

Highlights:

Wings of Liberty

Escape from Mar Sara

The Prophecy

I, Mengsk

Better Tomorrow

Card to Play

Fire and Fury

 

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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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