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Soundtrack review: XCOM 2: War of the chosen (Tim Wynn – 2017)

Game scores

Soundtrack review: XCOM 2: War of the chosen (Tim Wynn – 2017)

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XCOM 2 is a turn-based tactics video game. The War of the Chosen expansion makes changes to XCOM 2’s campaign structure and adds new enemies, new hero characters, modifiers, and more behaviors for characters. The expansion introduces a new set of enemy aliens called the Chosen, three elite alien warriors tasked by the Elders to defeat XCOM and recapture the commander; the Assassin, which uses stealth and is able to kidnap the player’s soldiers directly from the battlefield, the Hunter, an alien-human hybrid that uses long range rifles, and the Warlock, who uses psionic powers and can summon additional enemies during battle. As the game progresses, the Chosen gain new exclusive abilities over time, and eventually become able to launch a direct attack on the Avenger. The Chosen continue to appear occasionally during missions even after being defeated, and can only be killed for good once their base is destroyed as well. Tim Wynn wrote the score.

When I listen to a game score like this I expect epic and emotional. A lot of game scores are supposed to be immersive, atmospheric even to help and enhance the gameplay experience but in war games like this I want to hear bold, thundering epic and the opening theme comes close. The composer immediately introduces the emotional theme as well in “Shen’s hope” and even if I am not hearing anything new I am enjoying the music because it’s in a game score comfort zone for me. A short and sharp trailer music level intense cue like “Metal and steel” shows me that I should have no worries about this score; it gets my blood pumping and makes me imagine myself playing this violent game.

I can hear this score has a lot of potential and when I hear cues like “Call to arms” or “Lethal assault”, solid, epic pieces I can only imagine how they would have sounded with a full orchestra; it’s the sensation that the composer achieves maximum epic and adrenaline with the tools at hand and that there would have been place for even more; it’s a nice sensation because it means the score makes me want to hear more and hasn’t peaked yet.

I get more with almost every cue and really this is what I wanted to hear in “XCOM2: War of the chosen”; cues like “Shadow domain” where the composer just goes with it without pulling any stops and giving me epic, action, adrenaline and music to wake me from my chair ready to do big things. The score is spectacular most of the time and it makes me want to look for the other scores from the franchise to see if they will be just as exciting. For game score fans and not only, this one is a treat.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 26 / 47

Album excellence: 55%

Highlights:
Shen’s Hope
Metal and Steel
Call to Action
Hope Is Lost
Friend or Foe
Shadow Domain
Last Gift
Hidden and Deadly
Warlock
Enemy Territory
Lost Evac
Deadeye
Bad Robots

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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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