Mercenaries 2 -World in Flames- Original Videogame Soundtrack

Mercenaries 2 -World in Flames- Original Videogame Soundtrack Album Title:
Mercenaries 2 -World in Flames- Original Videogame Soundtrack
Record Label:
Electronic Arts
Catalog No.:
Release Date:
October 28, 2008
Download at iTunes


Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction was one of many video games that featured work by Michael Giacchino (he wrote its main theme). Chris Tilton, one of Giacchino’s orchestrators, was given the opportunity to score that first version of the game in what would be be his first large-scale orchestral score. Tilton has continued to orchestrate for Giacchino and has developed into a major television and game composer in his own right. For EA and Pandemic’s sequel, Tilton amassed an 80-piece orchestra with expanded percussion and the addition of guitars for this intense gaming experience. The soundtrack was available as a pre-order bonus with the game and was later released as a digital download.


As was the case with Giacchino’s early video game scores, Tilton’s music often reveals a tremendous grasp of orchestral color and understanding of asymmetrical syncopation. This is on full display in the exciting opening “Main Theme” with an almost Goldsmith-esque heroic melody tossed about with swirling strings skitting around. It is a hint of the propulsive action to come and also reveals a wonderful thematic construction that will be used to hold the score.

There is a wide range of timbres on show throughout the score. The solo guitar idea appears in “Solano’s Villa” in a sound reminiscent of a Morricone Spaghetti Western. Dissonant brass writing is another intriguing hallmark of the score, often with horns hinting at melodic fragments, notably on “Bunker Busting” and “The A.N. Invades”. ubtle low woodwind writing appears in the subdued pause of “Big Oil Bender” displaying a real sense of instrumental color. Unusual soundscapes are also on display in the score in a modified ambient design, for example on “Streets of Venezuela”, that gradually adds in acoustic orchestral elements.

The music features several lengthy musical tracks that display the sense of shape that Tilton is trying to create for each game segment. Though this is a mostly relentless action score, the music is constantly of interest as little ostinato patterns come and go from intimate cello appearances to large driving rhythmic syncopations. This great cinematic evolution of “Taking Out the Rig” are excellent examples. What’s more, it can often be surprising just how much Tilton hybridises into one track, with “Freedom Fighter Free-For-All” combining epic orchestration, electric and acoustic guitars, and South American percussion all into a potent one minute cue.

The recording here allows for interesting imaging between channels. Sometimes the brass acoustic is not as ambient as it should be, sounding a bit too dry. The string sections can be thin at times for the conception that Tilton brings to the page, though this is not a detriment. The fact that comments like that can be made should help in understanding that this is a large-scale orchestral score that has a lot to offer in the mixture of approaches that form an amazing integral whole as the score plays out.

The various elements is combined in great variety and new ideas appear to make the score interesting on its own merits. These ideas are well-established by the midway point of the presentation and the rest allows for more of the same with continued variety. There is a seven minute end credits suite to help round off the score, another sign that Tilton thinks like an earlier generation of Hollywood film composers.


Mercenaries 2: World in Flames showed that Chris Tilton was more than talented enough to lead scores, not just support them. The thematic potency, timbral variety, and dramatic development all make this a powerful listen. This is highly recommendable to fans of orchestral action music writ large.

Mercenaries 2 -World in Flames- Original Videogame Soundtrack Steven Kennedy

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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Steven Kennedy. Last modified on August 1, 2012.

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