Commando 3 -Wolf of the Battlefield- Original Game Soundtrack

Commando 3 -Wolf of the Battlefield- Original Game Soundtrack Album Title:
Commando 3 -Wolf of the Battlefield- Original Game Soundtrack
Record Label:
Sumthing Else Music Works
Catalog No.:
N/A
Release Date:
April 14, 2009
Purchase:
Buy at iTunes

Overview

In the middle of 2008, Capcom revived its long-lost Commando franchise with a new title for the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network — Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3. Although the game was developed by the Western company Backbone Entertainment, Norihiko Hibino’s music production company GEM Impact was hired to compose the title. They were asked to preserve the feel of previous Commando games while modernising the game with their unique mix of jazz, orchestration, and rock. The conservative game wasn’t particularly commercially or critically successful, but its soundtrack was fortunately written to be enjoyable even outside of the game. With just seven tracks, it wasn’t a prime candidate for a physical album release, but GEM Impact thankfully treated us to an iTunes release in 2009. Is it worth purchasing?

Body

“Den of Wolves” is a nice way to expose the style of the soundtrack. The theme is pure Hibino — with jazzy semi-acoustic improvisations, wild flute wails, and even some 60s grooves reminiscent of the healing tracks on Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. It’s a very modest theme in terms of development, but that’s also suitable for the purpose of a game menu. Hibino saves the far-reaching and well-developed themes for the stage music. And the first of these, “Bullets for Breakfast”, is on par with some of his best Metal Gear works. The forces from the menu theme all return, but the timbre is much more varied this time — with gritty electric guitar riffs, carefully placed piano cluster chords, and punchy brass solos all making transient appearances. It’s a great way to motivate gamers while reflecting the dynamic nature of the battlefields. Despite going so far in the development, however, the loop of the theme is surprisingly abrupt and disrupts the flow of the soundtrack somewhat. Apart from that, it’s fantastic.

Hibino’s firm vision for the soundtrack is reflected by the continuous elements of subsequent themes. The heavy articulation and firm rhythms of “Sneak Attack” convey a sense of espionage through particular dangerous territory. Over its seven minute playtime, the theme gradually intensifies by adding new instruments and deeper chord sequences, though considerable fluidity is maintained. The occasional disruption from bellowing brass — in a rather similar way to “Against This World” from Hibino’s solo album Akashi — ensures listeners remain aware that danger lurks around every corner. This maintains the instrumentation and jazz style of earlier themes while achieving something very different in mood. “Gutteral Scream” ups the intensity quite a bit with discordant string jabs and heavy drum beats. Given Commando 3 was a collaborative effort, it’s probable that this one wasn’t composed by Hibino — the cutting edge drum kit and distorted guitar use are more characteristic of Takahiro Izutani. However, in another testament of GEM Impact’s strength as a team, Hibino’s jazz influence is kept very much alive.

Of all the compositions on the soundtrack, “Light ‘Em Up” is the most instantly memorable. Driven throughout by a catchy left-hand piano riff, the rest of the forces syncopate the main beat in an extraordinarily compelling way. The secondary sections are also instantly charming, especially the interplay of brass or the old-school synth solo just before the loop. The fusion of rock and orchestral elements is very well done here — creating a real head-banger yet something musically mature too. “Sly Foxes” also brings a lot to the table with commanding rhythms, dramatic chord progressions, and fantastic solos all coming forward. It’s one of those pieces that just keeps on getting better. “Guns Blazing” is a a fantastic boss theme to finish off the experience. The formidable foe is introduced with an sinister brass fanfare and more flute ululation. Subsequently the pace and aggression of the battle is conveyed with grungy rhythm guitar, edgy orchestral forces, and more flute cries. It seems to unite elements from other tracks while offering rhythms, progressions, and timbres even more intense than before.

Summary

All in all, the soundtrack to Wolf of the Battlefield: Commando 3 will be a treat for fans of Norihiko Hibino. It channels his distinctive symphonic jazz sound more than his other recent works, so will be very accessible to Metal Gear Solid fans. Similar ensembles are used throughout to maintain a musically continuous accompaniment to the game. Nonetheless, Hibino and co. expertly portray the various types of in-game action by offering a spectrum of intensities and a variety of fusions. In spite of the occasional abrupt loop and the modest development of the menu theme, every track is highly enjoyable, well constructed, and worth revisiting. The main limitation of the soundtrack is its length, but fortunately it’s still good value for money given it was released through iTunes. Those looking to hear Hibino’s sound in a distinct environment shouldn’t hesitate to pick up the seven tracks.

Commando 3 -Wolf of the Battlefield- Original Game Soundtrack Chris Greening

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!

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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.


About the Author

I've contributed to websites related to game audio since 2002. In this time, I've reviewed over a thousand albums and interviewed hundreds of musicians across the world. As the founder and webmaster of VGMO -Video Game Music Online-, I hope to create a cutting-edge, journalistic resource for all those soundtrack enthusiasts out there. In the process, I would love to further cultivate my passion for music, writing, and generally building things. Please enjoy the site and don't hesitate to say hello!



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