Guild Wars -Factions- Original Soundtrack
Guild Wars -Factions- Original Soundtrack
April 28, 2006
Buy at DirectSong
Following the success of the original campaign, Guild Wars: Factions introduced a new scenario and continent to the vast world of Tyria. Jeremy Soule returned to create an additional score for the title and focused mainly on hybridising orchestra with traditional Eastern instruments to capture the Asian-inspired continent of Cantha. Following the release of the collector’s edition soundtrack, Jeremy Soule made the soundtrack available for download through DirectSong, complete with four bonus tracks.
The soundtrack immediately reflects the hybridised sound of Guild Wars: Factions with a new main theme. Soule combines a solo performance from an koto — a bowed Japanese string instrument — with the suspended strings and cinematic percussion typical of the original game. It’s a stereotypical combination, but the melody and performance are so beautiful that they penetrate the heart of listeners. There are hints of the original Guild Wars main theme integrated into the piece, ensuring there is continuity between the campaigns, but these are sufficiently subtle for the Factions theme to stand up in its own right. The recurrence of this melody in tracks such as “Harvest Festival” and “Shing Jea Monastery” further emphasises the personality of the soundtrack.
The soundtrack builds on these stylistic elements to portray the scenery of Guild Wars: Factions. “Assassin’s Theme” conveys more personality than other tracks on the soundtrack thanks to its deeply expressive woodwind performance. Like the main theme, the backing orchestration is little more than some moody string samples on high reverb, but the strength of the lead makes up for this. Arborstone” is also a very special track, given it integrates further traditional soloists with choral samples that are a throwback to the original Guild Wars. The focus on meditative percussion drones of “Ritualist’s Theme” is also quite creative, emphasising that Soule wanted to explore Eastern elements without being intrusive or melodramatic.
Despite this novelty, it is clear that the music was principally intended to set the mood, rather than stand out. The fluttering flutes of “Kaineng City” certainly sound abstract, but they are little more than a supplement to the dark string-heavy soundscapes that Soule builds. Experimental use of woodwinds also contribute to the ambience of “Tanglewood Copse”, but it is too understated and underdeveloped to leave an impact. The taiko drums that introduce “Unwaking Waters” are also striking, but the final composition is all build-up and no action. In context, these compositions all flawlessly match the visuals and enhance the fantasy mood. Yet it is entirely clear that they were never intended for stand-alone listening and will prove tedious for most.
The soundtrack is a particularly challenging listen en masse. The 20 tracks here are almost exclusively soft, dark, and mystical, with various features that ensure they still match their respective purposes. Those that enjoy diverse soundtracks like the original Guild Wars shouldn’t expect a rousing action theme or lively character cue to break up the experience. There isn’t a single such theme here. The bonus tracks on the DirectSong release add little to the experience and don’t even have names of their own. Mixing together intense polyrhythms with a recapitulation of the main theme, “Bonus Track 4” is a genuine highlight. However, it’s too little, too late to redeem the soundtrack.
The Guild Wars: Factions soundtrack was composed for a new campaign, not an entirely new game, and it sounds like it. While the soundtrack does have a defining theme and style, it lacks the diversity and drama required for an immersive stand-alone experience. These deficiencies are not resolved in the digital version, even though the final track is solid. Those that want more music from the Guild Wars universe are advised to check the superior soundtrack to Guild Wars: Eye of the North instead.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.