Call of Duty -Modern Warfare 3- Soundtrack
Call of Duty -Modern Warfare 3- Soundtrack
November 8, 2011
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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 inspired a popular backlash when it was released, but its sales still broke launch records — not just for video games, but for all entertainment. Keen to keep the series’ music cutting-edge, Infinity Ward overlooked Hans Zimmer’s company for this instalment in favour of Brian Tyler. While the composer has enjoyed a massive rise to fame through his involvement in Hollywood films and television scores, his attempts to break into the game industry were less successful through LEGO Universe and True Crime: Hong Kong. With Modern Warfare 3, the composer finally made the breakthrough he desired and his score was celebrated with a digital soundtrack release. Tyler doesn’t deviate from the modern military styles expected from him here, but develops these styles throughout to offer a highly satisfying final score.
With the title theme, Brian Tyler exposes the militaristic main theme for the game. Those that have heard Tyler’s main themes before, most notably on Battle: Los Angeles, will know how he stirs emotion with the repetition of long rich phrases. He utilises this technique once again here to simultaneously portray the proud nature and sad undercurrents of war. But perhaps more interesting is the way the melodic elements becomes overwhelmed at 1:05 mark with more percussive elements — showing the challenges and danger that lie ahead. The melody is reprised plenty of times in the score — spanning the preparatory military march “Prague Hostilities”, the dark ethnic soundscapes of “Warlords”, to the relatively liberated orchestration “First Contact” — to portray the mixed feelings of war. The melody isn’t flexible enough to suit all these incarnations, but it provides an appealing hook to unite some very different pieces together.
Contrary to the main theme, the majority of the soundtrack is more striking than it is moody. Tyler discards the understated electro-orchestral ambience of Modern Warfare 2 in favour of plenty of high-octane action cues. Whether the racing string runs and piercing brass flutters of “Russian Warfare”, or the heavy percussion and brutal discords of “Paris Siege”, this soundtrack packs quite a punch. In addition to showing prowess as a composer and orchestrator, Tyler — an experienced symphonic conductor — maximised the potential of the compositions at the performance stage. The weight that the Slovak National Symphony bring to the aforementioned compositions — as well as the more classically-oriented “Russian Deliberations” — is incredible. It is recordings like these that show what next-gen games should aspire to, in an age when samples are too often used as a substitute for orchestras.
In essence, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a truly hybridised score. The aforementioned orchestral performances are combined with vocal solos, ethnic instruments, electronic beats, and even electric guitar riffs to great effect. For example, the exotic wailing vocals of “I Stand Alone” emphasise the humanity behind the score’s most emotional cue. Meanwhile the sudden emergence of warped electronic beats on “Battle for New York” or the abstract ethnic strings of “Manhattan Assaults” has a disorientating effect when throwing gamers into the action. Some of these hybrids are based on Hollywood staples — and are also found in abundance in scores like The Expandable or Rambo — but they’re competently produced nonetheless and do exactly as was requested in the game. What’s more, they are integrated well enough that they feel like they truly belong in the soundtrack experience — not to mention the wider game.
It was a particularly daring move for Tyler to incorporate rock elements into cues such as “Special Forces” and “Hamburg Invasion”. After all, many argue that rock hybrids only belong in the cheesy action movies or first-person shooters from the 1990s. Nevertheless, such elements actually end up bringing plenty of grit and energy to already solid military orchestrations, and some will regret that they were not used more extensively. It’s refreshing to see with these guitars that — despite Modern Warfare 3 being portrayed as serious business — Tyler is prepared to let loose and have fun on plenty of these themes. And for the most part, the outward expression and diverse stylings of these tracks enhances the stand-alone experience after the much more understated scores of past instalments of the series.
While this is a game score, there are no one minute loops here — the cues are all so ambitious and expansive that they exceed those of most film scores. For instance, “Battle for New York” is a six minute action extravaganza that captures an ever-evolving combat scene with its twists and turns. The climactic “Undersea Warfare/Somali Payback” is even more extensive, taking a sinister turn following its tense electro-orchestral opening and moving into a wild percussive climax. Even relatively brief tracks such as “The Will of a Single Man” are much more striking than most filmic material these days and don’t ever feel supplementary or unnecessary. Packed with variety and dominated by a dramatic arch, the score also satisfies as a collective experience and offers a wholesome 80 minutes of music in total.
To conclude, the soundtrack of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is among the best of its genre. It adheres to many stereotypes of modern military scores — electro-orchestral stylings and bittersweet melodies among them — so won’t appeal to those looking for innovative stylings. Compared to Remote Control Productions’ scores for the series, it is also a little weak thematically. But with its action-packed focus, diverse fusions, and momentous production values, it develops this sound in a way that is effective in context and appealing outside it. Tyler has made a very confident breakthrough to the video game industry with this score and, with Need For Speed: The Run and Far Cry 3 to follow, he is now a major contender in the field. Simply put, there isn’t a dull moment on Modern Warfare 3‘s score.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.