Prototype 2 Official Soundtrack
Prototype 2 Official Soundtrack
April 24, 2012 (Collector’s Edition); May 1, 2012 (Commercial Download)
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Prototype 2 largely maintained the apocalyptic open-world concept of Prototype, though it switched the main character in shocking fashion. Alex Mercer wasn’t the only individual to exit during the production of the game — Prototype‘s composers Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan also didn’t return. Unlike the predecessor, there was no well-orchestrated PR campaign to unveil the new composer of Prototype 2. Instead, it was revealed on the day of the game’s release that the sound director of the original, Scott Morgan, had also assumed composition duties on the title. While a bizarre switch, Activision continued to display confidence in the game’s soundtrack. They included the soundtrack with the collector’s edition of the game and also prepared a separate digital commercial release.
The Prototype 2 soundtrack generally continues the relentless action focus of its predecessor. But whereas Dikiciyan and Velasco’s approach was highly textural, Morgan’s is much more rhythmical. “Operation Flytrap” exemplifies the approach used by most tracks here. It’s formed entirely from string ostinati, electronic beats, and percussion samples; these components are repeated in different combinations to create asynchronised rhythms and different intensities. There’s no melody or arch to speak off, just lots of grit and movement. The resulting piece captures the required tempo and intensity for the on-screen action, while emphasising the urban nature of Manhattan. However, it’s nowhere near as entertaining or fascinating as similarly percussive tracks from competitors such as inFamous, Chaos Theory, or even Crackdown 2. While the work is hardly amateurish, it’s clear Scott Morgan is simply not an experienced or individualistic as many of his contemporaries.
The score is completely dominated by rhythmically driven action tracks written like “Operation Flytrap”. There are occasional variations in the approach: “Feeding Time” incorporates a suspenseful introduction, “A Maze of Blood” and “A Labor of Love” have more piercing leads to capture the horrifying gameplay, and “Salvation” randomly and transiently throws an organ into the picture. However, the sheer majority of tracks feature the same strings/drums/beats combo and angular unmelodic part-writing. It is uninspired how each of these was written in such a formulaic way, especially after the rich musical direction of Prototype. On a stand-alone basis, the score quickly loses interest after a few tracks — there is too little variation in texture, and tempo, not to mention no melodies to speak of. The occasional ambient interludes, namely “The White Light” or “Fly in the Ointment”, are even more sparse and do little to reignite interest.
In addition to being compositionally barren, the score for Prototype 2 could have been better implemented. The samples used sound realistic enough and create the desired filmic feel. However, they’re incredibly limited in number — with the same strings and brass sounds being used ad nauseum. While a rhythmically driven score, it’s also unfortunate that Morgan adheres to a conventional percussion palette and does not use electronic manipulations as extensively as Sascha Dikiciyan did. As a result, Prototype 2 sounds less raw and urbanised than its predecessor. In a further step backwards, Prototype 2 fails to utilise an full orchestra like its predecessor did. The difference is clear when comparing “The Lab Rat” here with “In the Web” from Prototype — both action tracks featuring stabbing strings and booming brass. Samples simply don’t evoke the same rawness or humanity as a wonderfully articulated orchestral performance does.
The primary highlight is the main theme, “Resurrection”. Here, Morgan shifts away from a rhythmically driven sound in favour of a conventional filmic approach. The first half of the composition revolves around a pensive, hypnotic piano sequence. While a little basic, it’s a refreshing break from the usual scoring bombast and focuses gamers on the deeper aspects of the scenario. The track builds up into an emotional orchestral tutti at the 1:17 mark, with all the staples of the iconic film sound: slow strings, epic brass, sampled percussion. During the final moments, a series of build-ups reinforce the epic scope of the game and the determination of its protagonist. The end result is an emotional and satisfying track rather lacking in the originality department. The track makes a few enjoyable reappearances, most notably in the climactic “Murder Your Maker” — a more rhythmically driven arrangement with a Tron-esque arrangement — but it’s not enough to redeem the score. Worryingly, these tracks aren’t the most blatant film homages here: eager listeners will notice that one of the action tracks even quotes Requiem for a Dream.
Simply put, the soundtrack for Prototype 2 is a disaster. Though the music generally matches the pace of the gameplay, it really adds to the drama or enhances the location like the original did. It also has grave deficiencies on a stand-alone level: barren stylings, repetitive tracks, lifeless implementation, and derivative tendencies. While Scott Morgan did a fantastic job as sound director on the original game, he was clearly ill-suited for a role as composer here. Only experience this score in context, as the stand-alone experience won’t appeal in any way.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.