Guild Wars -Nightfall- Original Soundtrack
Guild Wars -Nightfall- Original Soundtrack
October 27, 2006
Buy at DirectSong
Tyria’s third campaign, Guild Wars: Nightfall introduced further gameplay modifications and a new continent. Having dedicated much of the previous year to developing the Guild Wars universe, Jeremy Soule once again returned to create an additional score for the game, this time with assistance from his brother Julian Soule. Once again, Soule focused on hybridising orchestral underscore with traditional instruments to portray the new continent in the game. But unlike Guild Wars: Factions, he focused on integrating Arabian instruments than Chinese ones to demonstrate the Egyptian influence of Elona. Following a collector’s edition release, the soundtrack was digitally released through Jeremy Soule’s DirectSong service complete with several bonus tracks.
“Land of the Golden Sun” introduces the main theme for Guild Wars: Nightfall. With its fast pace and rousing orchestration, the track has a much more adventurous quality to it than the spiritual main themes for Guild Wars: Prophecies and Guild Wars: Factions. The incorporation of ethnic percussion and an oud soloistensures the track manages to capture the Egyptian-inspired lands of Elona, albeit in a stereotypical manner. However, the highlights are definitely the rich and melodious orchestral portions that prove a welcome departure from the series’ more ambient sound. Sadly, this theme isn’t extensively arranged like the series’ previous main themes were and instead is only loosely reference elsewhere on the soundtrack. This makes the soundtrack a little thematically barren as a result.
For the most part, Soule preserves his approach to dark ambient scoring throughout Guild Wars: Nightfall. Tracks such as “Haunted Ruins”, “Fortress of Jahai”, and “Web of Terror” exemplify his scoring approach at its most drab; they are made up almost entirely of deep suspended strings (with excessive reverb, of course). The only novelties are some repeating percussion rhythms and these are nowhere near as creative as those on the series’ battle pak. While “Descent into Madness” and “Turai’s Legacy” complement the twilight scenery, these pieces are nothing more than ambient noise and lack any true melodies, harmonies, or instruments. When prolonged for three minutes apiece, the score undoubtedly bores at times. This is not intellectual ambience, like Soule’s work on The Elder Scrolls, but merely functional underscore.
Unlike the previous campaign, there are plenty of more expressive themes to break up the soundtrack. For example, “Gathering Storm” provides a welcome relief from ambient nothingness with its thunderous string bass and dissonant brass cries, while “Sulfurous Wastes” provides an ethnic twist on the approach heard at Sorrow’s Furnace. Another memorable addition is “Resplendent Makuun”, which emerges from its percussive origins into a rich fantasy orchestration with a memorable melody. “Garden of Seborhin” and “Guardian Sunspears” are also reminiscent of Soule’s more expressive approach to the Prophecies campaign, combining intimate and personal instrumental solos with rich interweaving orchestration. Aside the main themes, these are the strongest pieces to be featured in Guild Wars since the original campaign.
A further issue with the music for Guild Wars: Nightfall is that it features an excessive number of short cues. Many of these break up the ambient underscore to provide some action-packed moments on the soundtrack, for example the intensely percussive “Invasion of Vabbi” or dissonant brass cue “The Garrison”. Due to in-game limitations, they’re simply too short to fulfil their musical potential and, as a result, end up being unnecessary interruptions rather than fully-fledged highlights. The highly repetitive “Into the Breach” also indicates that Soule approached some of these pieces with uttermost efficiency, without concern for the quality of the stand-alone experience. Digital exclusives such as “March of the Margonites” and “Elona’s New Hope” further emphasise this feature. At least the trailer music at the end of the soundtrack is exciting and recapitulates the main theme.
The close release schedule of Prophecies, Factions, and Nightfall clearly either exhausted or bored Jeremy Soule. The incorporation of Arabian instruments and percussive elements seems like a trite way to individualise the campaign and there is far too much ambient underscore to appeal to stand-alone listeners. With the exception of a handful of themes, the majority of the music on Guild Wars: Nightfall isn’t as memorable or evocative on those from the original campaign. The soundtrack is a more diverse listen than Factions, but that is not enough for it to be worthwhile.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.