Watch_Dogs Original Game Soundtrack
Watch_Dogs Original Soundtrack
Ubisoft (Collector’s / Digital Editions); Invada Records (Physical Edition)
May 27, 2014 (Collector’s / Digital Editions); August 1, 2014 (Physical Edition)
Buy at Invada Records
One company known for having a solid portfolio of impressive game soundtracks is Ubisoft, who have worked with many talented composers over the years from the likes of Tom Salta to Brian Tyler. Couple that with the fact that Watch_Dogs created a huge boom when it was first unveiled, I simply couldn’t wait to know who the composer for it was or how the music would sound like. But when Brian Reitzell was first announced, I was a bit skeptical as even though he is immensely talented (Hannibal), his scoring style is subtly minimalist and I wanted something heroic and thematic for our vigilante. However, I was still intrigued to find out exactly what the soundtrack would sound like, and I am glad that I was not disappointed.
It turns that what I wanted (epic orchestral/electronic hybrid) wasn’t what the game needed after all. The game is actually more of a tense thriller than an action-packed shooter. Under the lead of sound director Peter Connelly, Reitzell more than perfectly captures that aspect with his mysterious sounding score that could be mistaken as something out of an espionage thriller. So, with tracks like the menu theme “Creepy Caller”, you’ll hear mysterious jazzy melodies and a suspenseful electronic mix.
As always, Brian’s samples are all cutting edge and clear sounding. One of the best things I usually like about his samples is how well they work with percussion instruments. Take “Donovan” or “Ghost of the Past”, for example, where the percussion work very comfortably flows through his lead and other pad lines, providing with a very rhythmic and comfortable listen that most people are usually accustomed to. While “Donovan” is another tense thriller track, “Ghost of the Past” is more exciting and forward. Both, however, are enjoyable and boast their own unique qualities.
Another thing you’ll notice is how classic some of his samples in this soundtrack sound, reminiscent of the VHS area. There are some sounds and effects in tracks like “Vigilante” and “Computer Underground” that are a great throwback to the classic era, and even “Donovan” is paced to give that quality. In fact if you liked the soundtrack from Far Cry: Blood Dragon be sure to give these tracks a listen at least.
Unfortunately one thing it does lack are the main themes. Even though it didn’t need over the top hybrid of electronics and orchestral, it still deserves to have strong themes for the game’s characters who are each distinct from each other. The only thing I can associate with a theme is the latter half of “Revelation Number 3”. Although light, this track is absolutely gripping with a very heartbreaking three note melody. It is well used in the game during scenes whenever Aiden recalls the tragic night his niece died, so I assume this was created as a theme for her. I just wish it developed a bit more into a stand-alone track and that there were more pieces like this.
Still one thing I have to tip my hat over to is how masterfully Brian Reitzell has layered each track. I am pretty sure that a lot of the casual listeners will miss this, but enthusiasts will respect how every sound comes in and fills each track. Most composers (even big ones like Brian Tyler) often take a lazily approach to the production, by simply putting heavy noises or rely too much on deep bass lines to make a track sound full. Even though that does work, it usually comes off as monotonous and derivative. However, what you have got here are each effects and layers comfortably coming and going. The best example has to be “Elevated Trains,” where you can barely hear any unnecessary or repetitive noises. That is definitely one of Brian’s talents, one that was apparent in the hit TV show Hannibal as well where each layer of his was clearly thought out of to give edge to each scene and character’s interactions. You’ll definitely see the same during the cutscenes of this game as well.
Unfortunately, there are still some exciting tracks you get to hear during various parts of the game that aren’t present in the soundtrack. In both its digital and physical forms, this soundtrack contains the essential picks at 13 tracks. While this amounts to a well-rounded 45 minute listen, I would have definitely loved to see a bigger album.
Yes, the soundtrack isn’t exactly memorable or exciting. However, it definitely wouldn’t be fair to the composer’s hard work to shaft this off as just another boring soundtrack. After all, its minimalist but hard-hitting tracks are mixed to perfection, work wonderfully in the game, and are often intriguing on a stand-alone basis. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this to the average listener, but more those who are enthusiasts of Reitzell’s work or indeed minimalist music in general. Aspiring composers could also learn and appreciate much from the way the tracks are mixed and layered. Overall, a fine addition to Brian Reitzell’s portfolio and a refreshing approach to scoring.
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Posted on November 15, 2014 by Harris Iqbal. Last modified on November 15, 2014.