Gothic 3 Original Soundtrack
Gothic 3 Original Soundtrack
December 14, 2006
Buy at Soundtrack Official Site
The third entry of the Gothic title was met with an enthusiastic response from the fan base. In the game, the story tells the tale of the epic battle between the Orcish tribes and the human population of the land of Myrtana. In each adventure you play the role of an unnamed man who ends up stuck quite by accident in the ever expanding adventure. Accompanying you on the journey through the completely destroyed kingdom by the orcish tribes is an epic score performed by the Bochum Symphony Orchestra, amongst others and I hope that after reading this review, that you will be convinced to listen to the score yourself and find the same level of enjoyment.
The opening track, which has two different titles depending on whether you own the premium edition of the game or the separate soundtrack release, is essentially the main theme of the score as a whole. Since much of the soundtrack contains uses of either fragments of this theme in variation (“Ruinfields”, for instance), or uses much the same style of composition with heavy use of brass and the addition of a choir and a solo voice, if you don’t immediately get captured by this piece, then perhaps the soundtrack as a whole isn’t worth your time or money.
The piece itself conjures much the same immediate image in your mind that Howard Shore’s score for the Fellowship of the Ring did upon me when I first listened to it with the bold use of a mixture of choir and orchestra. Taken by itself the A section of the piece (0:00-1:29) is a brilliant opening, starting with a low droning that crescendos and sharply cuts off then repeats for the first 20 seconds, and then with a flash the main theme starts in earnest with the choir leading the melody line and the orchestra providing the harmony. If you’re a fan of the brass section then 0:45-1:20, where the horns come forward and make a sharp contrasting harmony line with the choir creating a sharp impact.
The ‘B’ section begins in earnest at 2:15 and runs until 3:04, with the solo voice performed by Lisbeth Scott. This theme makes re-appearances throughout the soundtrack as well. It’s a serene vocal track that stands in sharp contrast to the boldness of the A section of the piece, with the soft tones of the vocalist. Though at 3:04-3:15, the brass led melodic fragment seems a poor transition from the serene vocals back to a variation of the A section to cap off the piece. But this fragment is later embellished and expanded to make up the theme of combat.
The next theme of note is the theme that accompanies the “Gandalf” of the gothic universe, the wizard Xardas and his mysterious tower. The piece starts off with a bold pronouncement and then from 0:10-0:53 does a slow build up slowly adding more layers of the orchestra and finally peaking. The piece doesn’t have a strong melody that you can easily latch upon to, but as a purely atmospheric piece, it has plenty of merit, as it conveys well the mysterious nature of Xardas and which side he represents in the battle over the land of Myrtana.
“Vista Point” represents one of the first themes related to the occupied towns of the land. Since the Orcish tribes have enslaved the human population after their conquest of the land, this theme is almost eerily calm considering you yourself are a human. The simple flute-led melody that runs for the first 40 seconds of the track shows up gently and leaves in much the same way. In contrast, “From Silden to Trelis”, another theme that accompanies a town, is much more stately with its horn led opening bars. This piece accompanies the towns that are much more heavily fortified with proper stone walls and it wears that distinction well as the brassy nature of the piece conveys a militaristic feel. Though at 0:40 the piece changes direction, with the flute taking over the lead briefly leading to a more graceful version of the same theme that was introduced by the horn section, but the piece ends with a large crash of the cymbals until it fades. The last of the so called town themes of Myrtana is “Vengard Theme”. It’s a short but bold theme that accompanies the castle of Vengard itself.
It’s interesting that they place “Sad Strings” at the end of the soundtrack as its themes first made a brief appearance at the end of Vengard’s theme. This of course is because it plays while exploring the ruins of the castle town of Vengard. The composer chose to break these two themes up in this manner as they are linked thematically. On the other hand, much like other pieces in the game, this one is just as half-baked with a strong melodic idea that never quite follows through.
Exploring the land of Myrtana itself is accompanied by the aptly named “Exploring Myrtana”, which contains a collection of themes that are performed by the orchestra alone. This track should be more correctly titled a suite, as there are a number of themes which are separate while in-game, but presented here as a long unbroken track. The piece starts off in an unassuming way, completely lacking any sort of the dominance of the brass found in other pieces. Basically this is primarily a string section/woodwind affair at first, but then suddenly at 0:44, the piece springs to life with a dramatic burst that almost seems out of touch with what has been building up thus far. Almost completely unneeded. A more sinister air comes forth at 1:20. It’s a variation on the main theme’s A section, but with a different key and the same brass-less, toothless theme. At 2:53 the piece changes direction once again with the third melodic theme of the piece. There is a second dramatic surge that appears at 3:44, but this time it feels a bit more authentic than the first time it occurred, but still suffers from the same garish transitions that have affected other pieces within this soundtrack.
“Revolution” is the battle theme of the game. It’s basically an excuse for the brass to be loud and booming, and for timpani to be banged with great force. Starting with the same fanfare that seemed out of place in the title theme, it morphs into a piece that lacks any sort of melodic pulse. It’s not until the piece is nearly over before the main theme resurfaces with a more militaristic variation. The biggest issue with this track is that it doesn’t go anywhere, it merely just ends. Without any sort of proper melodic hook or proper conclusion, the piece doesn’t draw you in, it merely annoys.
One thing I will note about this soundtrack is that while it sounds like a cohesive unit, it, like a lot of other scores produced, is recorded in chunks. The orchestra is provided by the Bochum Symphony Orchestra, the choir was recorded in Prague, the solo vocals were recorded in a studio elsewhere and even some of the more ethnic percussion and sounds were added later. This piecemeal effort in production embodies the maxim that my brother says is basically the rallying cry of anyone in media production “We’ll fix it in post”. Post in this case, meaning post-production, where the sound editors take snippets of sound and stitch them together to create something that sounds recorded as a whole, but where the performers are often not even in the same room. Some may not care, and I don’t to an extent, but if you are someone who isn’t a fan of this practice, you should go into this soundtrack eyes wide open.
There are other things about this soundtrack that I haven’t given much coverage to. There are a number of themes that accompany the northern section of the continent, Northmar which have a desolate feeling to them as it is a snowy and mountainous region. And the desert to the south, called Varant. The themes are very middle-eastern in style, featuring many interesting ethnic instruments mixed with some players from the orchestra. If you want the best example of this, look at “Desert Sun”, but it’s a one-time piece that while 6 minutes in length, is only a small percentage of the actual score. It’s an interesting diversion, but not the rule.
I’ll also now advise all listeners to this soundtrack to basically stop listening to it as soon as Track 25 is over. The first theme “In My Dreams” is a vocal setting of “Vista Point”, which doesn’t make an appearance within the game itself. And the same can be said of all of the remaining themes that follow. Perhaps they could be best described as inspired by the Gothic 3 Original Soundtrack and at worst as an excuse to pad out a soundtrack that is 9 minutes short of an hour run length.
Despite some of the more scathing points I’ve made throughout the review, I do love this score in much the same way as I loved the game itself. The game itself was a big and bold project featuring a huge world that at one level seemed inviting, but full of danger at the same time. Unfortunately, like most big and bold projects there were little flaws that got missed because of its sheer size and scope. While the flaws are noticeable, they weren’t enough to deter you from seeing the adventure through to the end. This soundtrack is much the same. It’s a big and bold project featuring many different elements brought together for a composer who hasn’t quite done anything like it before, and as such there are some flaws that mar it, but that doesn’t stop one from enjoying it fully. And hopefully after reading this review, you’ll discover the music of the world of Gothic 3 and enjoy it as much as I do.
Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Andrew Oldenkamp. Last modified on January 17, 2016.