Need For Speed -The Run- Original Videogame Soundtrack

Need For Speed -The Run- Original Videogame Soundtrack Album Title:
Need For Speed -The Run- Original Videogame Soundtrack
Record Label:
Electronic Arts
Catalog No.:
Release Date:
December 13, 2011
Download at iTunes


The latest underground racing title from EA Black Box, Need For Speed: The Run combined a licensed game soundtrack with intense orchestral soundtracks for cinematic and chase sequences. No stranger to portraying illegal street racing, Brian Tyler — composer of the Fast and the Furious franchise — was scooped as the composer for the game. His score is full of raw power, but not much else…


The main theme for Need For Speed: The Run emphasises that the score is not Tyler’s most creative racing score. The track focuses on a series of simple suspended brass motifs that are embellished with heavy electronic beats and stabbing string figures. With this approach, Tyler ingrains a heavy cinematic sound and an appealing hook into the game experience. But the motifs and textures are so commonplace in Hollywood scores that they disappoint compared to, say, his equally dense but more creative main theme for Fast Five. Scores such as Paul Haslinger’s Undercover have demonstrated that the Need For Speed franchise is ready for much more and Tyler should be challenged to provide this.

There is no doubt that Tyler’s compositions on The Run enhance the gameplay. “The Limit” generates panic during intense sequences with its heavy beats, thrashing guitars, and crisis orchestrations. The contrast between the frantic beats and measured motifs is especially effective. Others prolong the anxiety, such as “Insane Face” with its booming percussion and siren-like portamenti, while the prolonged cinematic buildup and anthemic melodies of “Sicker Than You” motivates through the race. Their high quality implementation — albeit principally using samplers rather than full orchestra — further assures their success and they at least compare to Tyler’s Fast and the Furious scores in terms of production values.

While functionally effective, the soundtrack lacks the features needed to appeal on a stand-alone level. The aforementioned compositions lack the daring fusions or unusual rhythms to compare to past Need Need For Speed or Fast and the Furious scores. And many of them are heavy and relentless that they will evoke few positive emotions from listeners and will have the faint-hearted reaching for the stop button. Even thematically, the score is too barren to be particularly memorable. The central motif returns at several other sections of the score, for example on top of the tense soundscapes of “Think Thrice” or emerging out of chaos during “Overunder”, between the exploration of other lyrical figures in “Apex” and “The Limit”. But rarely do these reprises convey much meaning and instead seem like shallow decorations atop stereotyped compositions.

A further problem with the soundtrack is the lack of variety. Most of the tracks capture all-out action and those that deviate fail to make a deep impression. For example, “Into the Warehouse” and “Crusher” serve as effective moody underscore, but are too uninteresting to warrant stand-alone listening. The unsettling prepared piano work in the latter, in particular, is nothing more than an inferior imitation of John Cage. The clock noises on the slow ambient track “Palms of Sweat” are yet another superficial — and entirely unappealing way — to prolong tension. Less expected are “Scrappy Rubber”, “Gas Station Dust”, and “Front End American” with their heavily Americanised electric guitar performances. These tracks complement the licensed pieces to offer an authentic sense of place, but are too brief to be significant interludes.


After producing creative boundary-pushing scores for LEGO Universe and Modern Warfare 3, Brian Tyler failed to score a hattrick on The Run. He certainly complements the American setting and intense gameplay of the title, but relies on clichéd Hollywood techniques to do so. What’s more, the score lacks the melodic weight and stylistic variety to entertain from start to finish. Stick to Brian Tyler’s other racing scores instead.

Need For Speed -The Run- Original Videogame Soundtrack Chris Greening

Do you agree with the review and score? Let us know in the comments below!


Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.

About the Author

I've contributed to websites related to game audio since 2002. In this time, I've reviewed over a thousand albums and interviewed hundreds of musicians across the world. As the founder and webmaster of VGMO -Video Game Music Online-, I hope to create a cutting-edge, journalistic resource for all those soundtrack enthusiasts out there. In the process, I would love to further cultivate my passion for music, writing, and generally building things. Please enjoy the site and don't hesitate to say hello!

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