Uncharted 4 -A Thief’s End- Original Soundtrack
Uncharted 4 -A Thief’s End- Original Soundtrack
Sony Interactive Entertainment (Digital Edition); La-La Land Records (CD Edition)
N/A; LLLCD 1390
May 10, 2016; June 10, 2016
Buy at Amazon
Naughty Dog and Sony Entertainment has a pretty strong track record with producing a solid soundtrack to accompany their games. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, the latest (and last) installment of the Uncharted franchise, is no different. While Greg Edmonson composed for the original three games, Henry Jackman did the score for this one. Jackman is known for mainly his work on movie soundtracks such as X-Men: First Class, the latest two Captain America films, and Big Hero 6. While the Uncharted series has always played out like a movie, it’s still a game at the core. Jackman used many of his film score soundtrack skills to make a fantastic soundtrack. The 24-track soundtrack is available as both a digital download and physical CD now.
While Jackman is a different composer from the first three games, he does sound at home with the series. Nathan Drake’s new main theme can be heard distinctly in the first track, “A Thief’s End”. It sounds much different from the Uncharted 3 theme, which took a much more romantic and elegant approach. The new theme comes across much stronger, more defined, and aged. This fits well into the story of Uncharted, and helps work with the game even more. A key portion of this soundtrack revolves around the theme. It can be heard throughout the entire soundtrack, with portions of it being used and altered for the scene, just as with the leitmotif usage in the Lord of the Rings franchise helped to draw you into the world.. When this theme plays, you know when Nathan is going to do something bombastic, outlandish or the action is really going to get into high gear. A few examples of where this theme can be heard are in “Race to Libertalia”, “For Better or Worse”, and “Epilogue”. The latter two tracks have the theme much more drawn out and played softly, while “Race to Libertalia” does the exact opposite, using the main theme as a baseline to build action and speed upon.
Jackman’s film influences can definitely be heard in many occasions on the soundtrack. A great example of this is “The Twelve Towers”. This track starts off very subtly with a simple beat that starts to build as the tension in the game did. A very faint and almost disturbing flute is played in background to help build tension. As all of the instruments build to a climax, then the real “Hollywood sound” appears right after the 1:30 minute mark. A second “action theme” appears around the 2:35 minute mark. You can easily place this piece on any number of movie action scenes and it would work. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however, as the track has everything needed for that section of the game. It builds emotion, tension, and excitement for getting through the area. These action moments in the game are further amplified by this soundtrack.
This album not only emphasizes on the outlandish and strong jawed character of Nathan Drake, but also digs into his emotional side. Two tracks that are integral to this album are “For Better or Worse” and “Epilogue”. The former is my favorite track on the entire album, an amazing piece on a stand-alone level and a masterpiece when partnered with the game. Not to include any spoilers in the game, but this piece is played at a very high tension moment between Nathan and Elena. The track may be only a hair over 2 minutes long, but it’s easily the most emotionally charged. “Epilogue” is a very emotional track as well. Again without any spoilers, this track would not be what it is without the game and hence might lose some of its effect out of context. The story, scenery and writing make this song and emotional wrecking ball.
A critical view on the album does have one flaw. The flow from all tracks isn’t what you may expect from a cinematic score experience. The flow is good, but when listening to it in a continuous session, there are tracks that don’t always pair back to back. One example is “For Better or Worse” and the track following it “New Devon”. While the first track is a solemn, slow, and emotionally charged track, it is sorely interrupted afterwards by the very strong and harsh strings of “New Devon” that almost snap you out of the melancholy of the previous track.
The Uncharted 4 soundtrack is the perfect companion to the final game. Not only does it capture all of the highest moments, but really hits you hard with it’s softer side. It stands alone as a great soundtrack, but changes into something motivating and moving when paired with the game. Would the game be the same without the soundtrack? Inversely, would the soundtrack be as good without the game? Both would suffer if they weren’t on the same project. Both the action and calm moments would not have the same strength or emotion attached without the story compelling you. I would therefore recommend first experiencing this soundtrack in context and then reliving the moments through the stand-alone experience.
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Posted on July 1, 2016 by Colby Bell. Last modified on July 3, 2016.