Grey Goo Original Soundtrack
Grey Goo Original Soundtrack
February 1, 2016
Download at Steam
Grey Goo took Petroglyph’s real-time strategy format into a new deep space setting. Once again, Frank Klepacki returned to create the game’s score and created most of the score by blending together orchestral and electronic elements. While the game’s initial soundtrack release was highly complete, following the release of the game’s latest DLC in February 2016, Petroglyph made the game’s full score available to download at DLC through Steam. The three-hour score is split into four parts used to represent each of the game’s factions: Beta, Humans, Goo, and Shroud. While the parts are approximately equal in length, they’re vastly different in approach and each have plenty of excellent material to offer.
Grey Goo‘s central themes effectively capture the elements of the game. The main theme itself captures the vastness of deep space with its huge orchestral and choral sound. Marking Klepacki’s second major collaboration with Dynamedion following End of Nations, all the orchestral elements of the soundtrack were recorded with the Brandenburg State Orchestra. While well-produced, the composition and orchestration isn’t quite as exceptional as those of Klepacki’s previous effort, however. The melody makes quite an impact with its horror sci-fi influences, but feels somewhat underdeveloped at the stand-alone level, while the string ostinato running throughout the track grows repetitive. The faction themes effectively portray the opposing groups of the game: “The Beta” is a motivating electro-orchestral military anthem, “The Humans” is an extended multifaceted composition, and “The Goo” provides a twisted horror-influenced main theme arrangement. Also featured is a powerful but mysterious choral theme to portray “The Shroud”, a faction introduced in the recently-released free DLC The Descent of the Shroud. While all four themes are solid enough, they verge on being a little stereotyped and underdeveloped. What’s far more interesting is the way that Klepacki elaborates on the concepts established in these themes with the gameplay tracks of the soundtrack.
Most of the themes used to portray the Beta shift away from the cinematic influences of the main theme in favour of pumping electronic tracks. Klepacki is at his best with the likes of “Battle Stations”, “Beta Formation”, and “Wall Defense”, all dense but uplifting fusions of orchestral textures and driving electronic beats. He also brings plenty of his personality to “On the Hunt” and “Crush Under Foot” by convincingly incorporating his signature funky bass licks into the cyberpunk timbres. Also impressive is his integration of the Beta theme throughout the disc, particularly “Base Expansion” and “The Hand of Ruk”, both are which are more creatively satisfying and meaningful than the original rendition itself. The majority of the themes to portray the Humans also have a strong electronic influence . From the soothing chillout sounds of “Exploration”, to the colourful technopop vibes of “Increase Production”, to the deeper sci-fi moods of “Materialize”, there’s a tonne of music to love here. There’s also incredible mélange of orchestral and electronic elements in “Assemble and Attack”, “Human Confrontation”, and “Agile Maneuvers”, the latter which Japanese VGM fans might describe as a fusion of DoDonPachi’s overdriven beats with Ace Combat’s soaring orchestrations.
After the exhilarating electro-orchestral fusions to portray the heroic factions, things often slow down in the discs that portray the destructive Goo and Shroud factions. Several of the Goo tracks, notably “Spreading” and “Evolve”, firmly transition the score into horror territories. “Spreading” is particularly effective in capturing the cyborg nature and sinister intentions of the race, a weird concoction of ambient sounds, electronic noise, and maleficent chants. Several of the Shroud themes are similarly ambient — “Cultivation” and “Propagation” both slow-building ambient electronic soundscapes reminiscent of Klepacki’s adaptations of Blade Runner and Dune. There are nevertheless plenty of action tracks within the Goo disc to break the tension, the best of these being “Power Growing”, a vast track that builds upon its space horror roots into a climax for orchestra, chorus, and drum kit. And just as with the Beta theme, the use of the Goo theme in tracks such as “Protect and Destroy” and “War is Evolving” gives some meaning and impact to a track that was a little too expository in its first rendition. The latter provides a crowning moment on the soundtrack as Klepacki’s electric guitar — otherwise near-absent from the rest of the score — suddenly erupts into the forefront.
There’s also plenty of cinematic cues on Grey Goo that bring forward. Many of them are no frills underscore, for example “We Are Ambushed”, “Change Tactics”, “System at Risk”, “War Has Given You a Voice”, and “Analyze Hostile Forces”. They set the scene fine, but are too thin and stereotyped to appeal on any stand-alone basis. However, there are multiple tracks that immerse players into the game’s rich storyline, from the emotionally-nuanced “Abandon Ship” to the horror-influenced “Prisoner Negotiation”. A particularly impressive early track that draws players into the experience is “We Have a Breach”, which metamorphoses from its gentle introduction to its horrifying climax with some fascinating chord progressions. For a soundtrack as colossal as Grey Goo, it’s easy to overlook the great intricacies of so many of the tracks here. The last half hour of the soundtrack are appropriately its heaviest. It features five action-packed compositions, “Vexation”, “Disruption”, Exceed the Enemy”, and “All Will Be Silenced”, featured in orchestral and metal versions. While the orchestral versions are impressive, the metal arrangements provide some of the most entertaining moments of the score and will prove favourites among Klepacki’s Commnd & Conquer fans. Everything comes to a close with “All Will Be Silenced”, a melee of rock, chorus, and orchestra presenting one last variation on Grey Goo‘s main theme.
Whereas all too many soundtrack today feature excellent main themes but sparse main content, Grey Goo essentially provides the opposite. While the central themes and cinematic cues of the score are fairly average, the gameplay themes feature so much diversity, intricacy, and above all entertainment value. While hardly Klepacki’s most cohesive soundtrack, it features numerous masterpieces and plays especially strongly to his strengths as an electronic composer. A highly recommended purchase for those looking to play the game.
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Posted on April 27, 2016 by Chris Greening. Last modified on April 26, 2016.