H.A.W.X. 2 Original Game Soundtrack
H.A.W.X. 2 Original Game Soundtrack
November 8, 2010
Download at iTunes
Ubisoft’s H.A.W.X. 2 largely stayed true to the core arcade-style flight gameplay of its predecessor, but added a range of new features and mostly took place in the Middle East following the events of the first game. Fresh from his involvement in Red Steel 2 and Prince of Persia, Tom Salta returned to create this soundtrack as a more versatile and experienced composer. His soundtrack for this title is more diverse, extensive, and refined in every sense from the H.A.W.X. score, despite still retaining the Hollywood-influenced essence of the original. Now available as a digital download, does the album fully satisfy?
The main theme from the first game remains the centrepiece of the H.A.W.X. 2 and proves as commanding as ever. To ensure that the theme remained interesting, Salta arranged it in a variety of ways and added some new passages. “Eagles Rising”, for instance, begins the soundtrack with a slow variation of H.A.W.X.‘s main theme in brass, to give a rich and heroic introduction of the fighter pilots. The theme slows down and fade outs in subsequent portions of the track, allowing secondary melodies to enter in a cinematic manner. The piano then finishes the track with some beautiful melodies to reflect the personal tone of the adventure.
The fast and adrenaline-pumping scores begin with “Going to Guns”. This is a rather typical Hollywood-style cue, dominated by tense strings and heavy percussion; in fact, some parts seem inspired by Modern Warfare 2 and Inception, though Salta does not mimic them directly. Even so, the track is executed in an exceptional way — with smooth transitions and subtle reprises — ensuring an immersive accompaniment to the gameplay. The most noticeable action track is “Turn And Burn”, which uses drum beats and electric guitars to give the insane feeling of flying fast at extreme altitudes. The main theme in brass kicks in through half way off the track and raises the tracks feeling even more. The other outstanding action cue is “Winter War”, which captures the feeling of revenge using fast violin motifs, slow brass notes, and piano infusions, all mixed together in an exquisite way.
“The Crusaders Sword” is the perfect example of the Middle Eastern element. Demonstrate his experience from Prince of Persia, Salta uses many authentic instruments and vocals here to give a feeling of flying above the desert. The electronic beats make this track all the more mysterious and dangerous, again showing influence from Remote Control Productions. “The Blood of the Faithful” is also unique due to its use of both plucked and bowed string instruments to evoke the Arabian feeling, while “No Man’s Land” is worth mentioning for its evolution from its slow opening towards its intense conclusion.
Though most elements of the score are implemented with cutting-edge samplers, there are several performers featured, including a live choir. The choir especially introduces some nationalistic elements suitable for a war score on “Over the Caucasus” and “The Red Line”. Both of these tracks start with exactly the same sequence, creating a bold feeling with Russian choir. Subsequent sections of the duo are distinct, with the former focusing on vocals throughout and the latter taking a more ambient approach; however, not all parts of these tracks feel right out of context due to the sudden changes in ambience.
The stealth scores are also major new elements featured in the score. “Night Ops” is a slow track, which uses Middle Eastern percussion beats and high pitched strings to give a very stealth approach to the score. While it’s stereotypical, it is composed and implemented in such a professional way that it is by no means a pale imitation. “The Old Guard” also uses a popular formula of suspense to take the soundtrack towards its climax; it’s particularly impressive how the main theme on strings and brass is synchronised here with the chorus variations featured in “Over The Caucasus”. However, “The Last Stand” is certainly the most beautiful track in the entire score. The slow-paced violin solo here indicates the end of the journey and inspires reminiscence of the casualties. It’s so powerful that it has the potential to even make the suspectible cry.
This soundtrack is certainly impressive. Whether Russia, the Gulf, or Indian Ocean, each track in the game perfectly fits the context. The action-packed tracks will make you stand and fight, while the slower-paced ones can inspire great suspense or sadness. What’s more, this soundtrack is also satisfying on a stand-alone level due to its thematic richness, stylistic diversity, and professional mixing. Admittedly, there are times when the soundtrack becomes repetitive or uses the same formula as the first game, so don’t expect anything new or special. Nevertheless, the soundtrack is enjoyable both as a whole and thanks to highlights such as “Turn and Burn” and “The Last Stand”.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Harris Iqbal. Last modified on August 1, 2012.