Dino Crisis Original Soundtrack
Dino Crisis Original Soundtrack
August 21, 1999
Buy Used Copy
Dino Crisis was a classic survivor horror game by Capcom for the PlayStation. It was almost identical in format to Resident Evil except, of course, that dinosaurs replaced the zombies. The score followed suit by reuniting Resident Evil composers Makoto Tomozawa and Akari Kaida and introducing newcomer Sayaka Fujita. The music was largely well-received by gamers for the way it made the settings more atmospheric and encounters more frantic. As a result, quite a few people who enjoyed the game decided to buy Suleputer’s soundtrack. I was one of them, so why did the album end up being the item in my collection that I’m least likely to choose to listen to?
There are quite a few atmospheric tracks on the soundtrack. “You Have a Mail” initially soothes listeners with a warm repeating synth pad and atmospheric overlays, but takes a sinister turn with the prolonged repetition of an augmented descending three note motif. “Set You at Ease” is another track that revolves around repetition of a single note and addition of some treble frills, but is comforting like a Resident Evil save room track. However, most are far from peaceful. Used to make two divergent missions more agitating, “Where’s the Doc” focuses on adding low string runs to bells and vocals while “Where’s the Survivor” features unsynchronised pizzicato string and brass utters. “The Place is Deserted Though” conveys the feeling of an isolated technical facility with a repeating motif of random technological note interspersed with suspended strings, low brass, and cymbal and timpani rolls to create a slight rhythmical groove. Similar technological figures also make appearances elsewhere in the score. While the use of atmospheric noise in “Dark and Deserted” is effective, the piece is let down by a superficial tuned percussion motif running throughout. There are other dark ambient pieces like “Underpass”, “Heading for the Port”, “Suspicious Shot”, and “A Wiretrap” that offer absolutely nothing interesting.
Almost everything being so derivative and underdeveloped doesn’t make the soundtrack unlistenable. The action themes do. These tracks refreshingly depart from the Psycho influences of most Resident Evil soundtracks in favour of influences from atonal art music. Around half of the 66 pieces on the soundtrack incorporate rasping string, brass, and piano runs and eruptions of timpani use at high tempo. There is nothing artistic about the sheer majority of these pieces, however. They represent nothing but panic and chaos, are composed simply of thoughtless notes, and are articulated with extremely piercing synth. Computers can run very crude algorithms to produce random notes on these instruments with sometimes more enjoyable results. Of all these themes, only the T-Rex theme “A Rowdy in Ancient Ages” stands out as having some coherent compositional ideas. It’s still dominated by ear-piercing brass and strings at ridiculous high tempo, but at least the passages have some sort of shape to them. The fact there is such a large number of bombastic compositions means that the soundtrack never really has anything to build towards. Is it possible to find “Final Battle” anything other than a triviality with its sequences, rolls, and random notes on the same old ensemble? Their multiplicity also ensures that the soundtrack soon becomes an overwhelmingly unpleasant listen.
Moving to the remaining tracks, “Dino Crisis” is a short but effective title screen track featuring an action-packed progression and two loud dinosaur roars. “Welcome to the Genocide Island” is an effective cinematic track. It creates a massive amount of tension in the first 30 seconds with a combination of suspended strings, atmospheric synth, and penetrating beats. The theme takes the first of several sinister turns with the entrance of aggressive timpani rolls, but it’s with the emergence of some exotic percussion to accompany the passage through the jungle that especially jarring progressions emerge as dinosaurs take down the team one by one. There are plenty of other event themes on the score, but most are so transient and stereotypical that they become mere filler in the soundtrack. Tracks like “A Secret in the Poisonous Gas” and “Lamentation” feature nothing more than suspended strings while others like “Giant Fang” and “Stick to the Belief” are built on repetition of tense three or four note sequences. Occasionally, there are themes like “The Wounds are Pretty Bad…” and “Starting Up” with some musical merit, but they’re very brief. Even the six track ending sequence is an interruptive mess with the exception of the relatively convincing if completely generic slow strings composition “Reminiscence”.
The Dino Crisis soundtrack is an asset to the game given it genuinely adds to the tension and panic of its scenes. However, it is a particularly obvious example of a video game soundtrack that is just not intended for listening on a stand-alone basis. There are handful of cinematic cues and ambient tracks that are effective outside the game and acceptable to listen to in the background. However, there is a far greater number of frenetic action tracks that exhibit the same completely abominable composition style. Out of all the video game soundtracks I’ve listened to, this is the most difficult for me to listen to from start to finish. This is not the result of me finding dissonant music intolerable — bear in mind I love Shostakovich’s 4th and most Resident Evil soundtracks out there — but rather I cannot stand music that is simultaneously ugly, repetitive, and mind-numbing. The fact that everything else is so hackneyed and sloppy just adds insult to injury. I therefore think I can speak for fans and haters of dissonant music alike in not recommending this soundtrack.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.