Crackdown 2 Original Soundtrack
Crackdown 2 Original Soundtrack
Kevin Riepl Music
September 1, 2011
Download at Official Site
While Crackdown 2 didn’t offer much different to its predecessor, one change was the incorporation of plenty of original music to support the licensed soundtrack. Kevin Riepl was eventually asked to create an ambient score for the title, focusing on electronic and percussive elements. While the soundtrack didn’t receive an official release, it can be streamed through the artist’s official website. While a creative soundtrack, it lacks somewhat in variety…
The main theme for Crackdown 2 is a fine fit for the dark, gritty metropolis. The soft electronic synthpads and edgy percussion rhythms instantly give the track an urbanised, futuristic vibe. Comprised of four descending notes, the central motif here is hardly a complex. Yet it is effective on a number of levels: its shape makes it instantly recognisable, its metronomic rhythm adds a suspenseful elements, and its siren-like quality stimulates the senses. Riepl keeps things subdued throughout the development — a more expressive secondary theme and a few new layers are introduced, but nothing particularly rocks the boat. Ultimately, it’s an ambient cue that reflects the possibilities of the game’s open world. And indeed, with this motif popping into most of the themes here — even a handful of jingles — many of these possibilities come to light.
Though Crackdown 2 features plenty of dark atmospheric music, its soundscapes are entirely different to those Riepl concocted on Gears of War and Hunted: The Demon’s Forge. Riepl shifts away from orchestration altogether in favour of his own brand of moody electronics. “Freaks Cave” almost completely rejects melodic elements in favour of raw percussion hits and prepared cello motifs. It’s certainly a chilling and suspenseful track that matches the dark location. Inevitably, it’ll be too repetitive and alienating to garner much appeal on a stand-alone basis, though. One of the main highlights on the album, “Freaks of Nature” is a much richer track thanks to its rich percussion polyrhythms and eccentric electronic sampling. In fact, it is comparable to Amon Tobin’s tracks on Chaos Theory and inFAMOUS, but still features Riepl’s signature musicality.
Observant listeners will notice that most tracks incorporate four simple stems: melody, ambience, percussion, and bass. In the game, these stems are layered in and out in an adaptive manner to shift the intensity of the gameplay, though in the soundtrack the tracks are developed in a more linear manner. “Industrial Freaks” is a particularly impressive example of how Riepl brings plenty of drama to an enemy encounter; the lower-end establishes a fast pace and dark mood right away, though the ever-ripening treble elements and increasingly heavy percussion ensure the track keeps getting stronger. “Protect the Beacon” meanwhile demonstrates the effect layering in a melody can have. The first portion of this track immerses listeners with all its beats and bangs, but its the recapitulation of the main theme that yields the track’s best moment: heroic yet harrowing at the same time.
Sadly, Crackdown 2 isn’t a particularly exciting listen on a stand-alone basis. While tracks such as “Freaks of Nature” and “Industrial Freaks” introduce fresh ideas, others such as “Last Breaths” or “Golliath” labour them and offer little different. When stripped down, these tracks are little more than sparse reprises of the central theme above yet more urban percussion. Indeed, pieces like these reflect that Riepl stretched his thematic and stylistic ideas a little too thin while aiming for a cohesive accompaniment to the game. What’s more, there are tracks so subdued like “Dusk 02” or “The Hope Tower” that they tend to fade in and out of consciousness — they’re absolutely effective as soft underscore, but don’t deserve attention otherwise. In fact, the only truly exuberant track on the entire soundtrack is “Fly Through”. While still ambient, this piece features such a spectrum of timbre colours that it adds life and depth to the featured city. It’s a pity that Riepl wasn’t given the freedom to score more tracks like this.
The original music for Crackdown 2 matches the image of the game and fits several gameplay sequences excellently. That said, this soundtrack won’t have widespread appeal on a stand-alone basis. Riepl did a lot right by offering a flexible main theme, fascinating percussion and electronic samplings, and a stem-based development approach. However, his understated ambient approach and tendency to repeat ideas starves the soundtrack of variety. Indeed, the original music was only intended to accompany a portion of the game and there is also a large licensed soundtrack that takes a dominant role.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.