Guild Wars Battle Pak
Guild Wars Battle Pak
October 3, 2005
Buy at DirectSong
While Jeremy Soule’s score for Guild Wars was met with acclaim, space limitations meant that there was little over an hour of music featured in the original release. To compensate for this problem, Jeremy Soule liaised with developer ArenaNet to establish the digital download service DirectSong. In addition to providing commercial soundtrack releases for the franchise’s existing music, the service provided the opportunity for gamers to supplement the music in the game with new tracks. The Guild Wars Battle Pak provided an hour of music to supplement the game and, most importantly, enhance the combat experience.
Right from “Ice Cave Confrontation”, Soule demonstrates he means business on the Guild Wars Battle Pak. The fantasy orchestration and chorals from the original Guild Wars are featured here. However, they’re quickly overwhelmed by intense string passages and formidable brass leads. The dichotomy of the rhythms and textures here makes for a peculiar stand-alone experience, but fits the portrayal of intense combat in a beautiful location. Another aspect of the composition that stands out is its tremendously broad development. There are plenty of twists and turns during the 4:24 playtime here and it comes across as a fully-fledged work, rather than a brief cue. Equally impressive in this regard is the ever-changing symphonic movement “Once More Into the Breach”.
Soule maintains the highbrow approach throughout the other battle tracks. “Return to Ascalon” and “Fort Ranik March” are major orchestral tutti with a strong rhythmic drive. The militaristic renditions of the Guild Wars main theme makes these tracks all the more immersive. “Entanglements”, “A Test of Strength”, and “The Line in the Sand” only feature percussion parts, but the tracks prove compelling thanks to its layered forces and asynchronised rhythms. However, they are best listened to in context than en masse in this soundtrack release. “Prisoners of War” compensates for this with one of the most melodically potent and dramatically structured tracks in the entire franchise.
While the focus is on battle tracks, there are some quiet moments on the score. “Riverside Province” demonstrates Soule’s romantic inclinations with its soft piano-laced orchestration. It’s such an effective piece for depicting a country village and really ought to have been incorporated into the original game. “Arrival in Silverwood” has a more cinematic flow and wouldn’t sound out-of-place in The Lord of the Rings. A further highlight is “Tomb of the Primeval Kings” with its haunting choral emphasis. Those that enjoy Guild Wars primarily for its fantasy orchestration, rather than its thematic elements, are bound to love this track. The soundtrack concludes with “Rebirth”, a rousing march based on the Guild Wars main theme that arguably exceeds the original version.
DirectSong was quite an innovation back in the day and this release demonstrates that Soule primarily intended it to be a creative, not commercial, venture. It does cost six dollars to purchase this soundtrack, which is a sizeable amount for a downloadable product. However, this may be worthwhile for those wishing to supplement the in-game experience for those that notice the lack of in-game tracks. Even stand-alone listeners should consider this download, since it features some of the very best music of the franchise. Note that, while officially called ‘Battle Pak 1’, there was no follow-up to this release.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.