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Star Wars: The Old Republic by Mark Griskey

Star Wars: The Old Republic

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Star Wars:  The Old Republic (Soundtrack) by Mark Griskey
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Star Wars:  The Old Republic (Soundtrack) by Mark Griskey

Star Wars: The Old Republic
Lead Composer by Mark Griskey
EA Collectors Ed. Release (2011)

Rating: 7/10

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“Accessible to any Star Wars fan, [Star Wars:  The Old Republic] honors many themes we know and love while establishing new ones which emulate the sense of excitement that Star Wars had in the first place.”

New Music for an Old Republic
Review by Thomas Midena

 

BioWare’s mammoth online game enlists a massive team of composers to create an authentic Star Wars soundtrack. But can they produce quality entertainment to rival John Williams? Lennie Moore, Jesse Harlin, Gordy Haab, Wilbert Roget II, Steve Kirk, Jared Emerson Johnson and Peter McConnell unite with MARK GRISKEY (composer of the previous game in the series, Knights of the Old Republic II) to conquer this task.

The game, which was released in December 2011, is a Massively Multiplayer Online game created by BioWare - a studio renowned for their Mass Effect and Dragon Age games. Said to have cost $200 million to develop, Star Wars: The Old Republic is certainly one of the largest video games ever created. Players can create and customize their own character then jump right into this massive Star Wars universe with thousands of other online gamers.

A soundtrack disc containing 17 tracks was released with the Collector’s Edition of STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC, and another 30 pieces were released online for free download. This totals a whopping 47 tracks of original music from MARK GRISKEY and his team. And as an avid follower of the game since its announcement in 2008 and a dedicated player since its launch in 2011, I’ve listened to every beat of the soundtrack to delusion. Here are my thoughts.

Where better to begin than with the opening track, for both the CD and the game. “Clash Of Destiny” grumbles in gently, then builds as the whole orchestra joins in. By the time the choir gets going, it is obvious that this soundtrack has enormous scope. This piece manages to encapsulate the conflict and grandeur that we all love about Star Wars. It also has many similarities in style to “Battle Of The Heroes” from Revenge Of The Sith, which was obviously an inspiration.

“Glory, The Galactic Republic” is a triumphant piece filled with hope, fervour and that classic sense of adventure we all love about Star Wars. The latter half of the track descends into darker territory, and then unleashes a rollercoaster of intense orchestration; all bells and whistles blazing in a truly rousing manner.

Then there’s “Domination, The Sith Empire”. Uptight and methodical, it is the perfect culmination of what the Empire has meant to us since the original trilogy of films. A lovely little hopscotch of a theme dances throughout this piece. And once again things escalate at the halfway mark, rolling into a moment of action, followed by a brooding sense of mystery - to be expected when there’s Sith involved. If you listen closely you might notice some hints towards Jeremy Soule’s “Knights of the Old Republic” from the game of the same name in 2003.

And all of a sudden we’re back in the sunshine with “Justice, The Jedi Knight”. This pieces opens with a lovely variation on Yoda’s theme from the original trilogy, climbing into exclamations of pure triumph. Around the middle of the track we hear a cue which agreeably reminds me of Back To The Future, a cue which encapsulates the nobility of the Jedi Knight.

We remain in the light with “Bravado, The Smuggler”, introduced by a confident march oozing with pure-heartedness. Later on the cue develops into the inevitable mischief and action we would expect from a scoundrel. Swirls of orchestration reflect the daring and heroic nature of the Smuggler.

The dark side is immediately present in “Deception, The Sith Warrior”. This deep, grunting melody backed by a ominous choir signals the brutal, shadowy quality of the Sith. A tentative fear creeps into the latter section of the piece. This feels like the perception of the Sith from their victims, as they cower before the immense evil power. Immense evil power which reappears for one last powerful expression in the final thirty seconds.

On the opposite side of the spectrum of morality is “Peace, The Jedi Consular”. Gliding between mixtures of Yoda’s Theme, the piece highlights the nobility, mystery and heroism of the Jedi. It is a rather remarkable little compilation of familiar themes from the original trilogy that is sure to spark the excitement of any Star Wars fan.

Then there are some tracks released online for free which I couldn’t finish without mentioning. “The Mandalorian Blockade” is constantly stellar, but the last 90 seconds of the track is absolutely incredible and will make you want to jump into a starship and travel off into an unknown world. Don’t do so just yet, though! First I have to tell you about pieces such as “Alderaan, The Throne”. This is a change of pace, opening with sweeping beauty and moving into a very light tone that you might expect more from a fantasy world than a science fiction. “Balmorra, The Forge” triumphs with a rousingly majestic military theme that reminds me of Star Trek. By the end, though, it has melded into a dark and somber chorus worthy of Return Of The Jedi.

“The Occupation of Balmorra”. It’s probably my favourite track in the entire game, and it’s filled to the brim with action, triumph and finesse. The full scale of the orchestra truly comes together in this piece, as strings and horns team up to get your adrenalin going. Once again, it picks up even more in the last several minutes as the choir joins in. If nothing else, make sure you grab this piece for free over on The Old Republic website now!

Unfortunately, the massive 47 track-count I mentioned earlier isn’t as exciting as it first seemed, as 15 of these tracks are ‘Cantina music’. And don’t expect 15 iterations of the legendary “Cantina Band”. Most of this new Cantina music isn’t a great standalone listening experience. Sure, it’s very creative, and it ranges interestingly in style (much of it reminiscent of 70s Sci-Fi, and some is very Tim Burton). There are a couple of standout Cantina pieces which I do get some enjoyment out of, such as the entirely silly “Doe Azalus Ootmian”. But on the whole, though these pieces may set a great atmosphere in the game (and are better than a couple of dull orchestral pieces such as “Hoth, The Frozen Wastes” and “Belsavis, The Ancient Prison”) they aren’t what most of us want in an orchestral soundtrack. They remind me of the techno remixes we have been seeing a lot of in album releases lately (I’m looking at you, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”!).

But although the Cantina music may bring down my average score, there is still enough pure orchestral adventure here to rival any film score. This is an incredibly successful soundtrack in many respects, and it would feel wrong for me to not rate it highly.  Accessible to any Star Wars fan, it honors many themes we know and love while establishing new ones which emulate the sense of excitement that Star Wars had in the first place. Though it was always destined to be a level below any of John Williams’ film soundtracks, I believe STAR WARS: THE OLD REPUBLIC has earned itself a very special place in a galaxy far, far away.


Rating: 7/10


Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
  COLLECTORS EDITION SOUNDTRACK    
1 Clash of Destiny 2:20  *****
2 Glory, The Galactic Republic 6:03  ****
3 Domination, The Sith Empire 5:52  ****
4 Justice, The Jedi Knight 5:40  ****
5 Bravado, The Smuggler 5:26  ***
6 Deception, The Sith Warrior 5:10  ****
7 Scum, The Bounty Hunter 4:38  ***
8 Hope, The Republic Trooper 5:13  ***
9 Villainy, The Imperial Agent 4:12  ***
10 Peace, The Jedi Consular 5:28  ****
11 Treachery, The Sith Inquisitor 5:40  ***
12 Shake That Wampa Down 2:38  **
13 See You on the Dark Side 2:25  **
14 Smeeleeya Whao Tupee Upee 2:50  ***
15 Run Kessel Run 2:34  **
16 One Chuba Too Many 2:29  **
17 Shapa Keesay (Shape-Shifter) 3:01  **
  Total Running Time (approx) 72 minutes  
       
       

Track

Track Title Track Time  Rating
  DIGITAL TRACKS    
1 The Mandalorian Blockade 5:26  *****
2 Korriban, The Homeworld 5:20  **
3 Yesterday's Jawa 2:45  **
4 Average Brown Wookie 2:57  **
5 Ord Mantell, The Battleground 6:22  **
6 Nal Hutta, The Glorious Jewel 6:02  **
7 Tython, The Wellspring 7:00  **
8 Dromund Kaas, The Seat of Power 5:26  ***
9 Coruscant, The Capital 6:39  **
10 Do the Holos Show Up on the Bill? 2:38  **
11 Kayfoundo Naweea 2:35  ***
12 Balmorra, The Forge 6:12  ****
14 Taris, The Plague 6:42  **
15 Nar Shaddaa, The Playground 6:04  **
16 Tatooine, The Desert Sands 5:30  **
17 Alderaan, The Throne 6:30  ***
18 In the Escape Pod 2:09  **
19 Doe Azalus Ootmian 2:44  ***
20 The Occupation of Balmorra 4:32  *****
21 The Battle for Coruscant 6:18  ****
22 Hoth, The Frozen Wastes 6:26  *
23 Belsavis, The Ancient Prison 6:18  *
25 Voss, The Mystic Garden 5:30  **
26 Cut the Phobium 2:29  **
27 The Slippery Little Hut of Mine 2:37  **
28 Corellia, The Shipyards 9:39  ***
29 Credits Where Credits are Due 2:35  ***
30 The Siege of Alderaan 5:16  ****
       

 

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