Command and Conquer has always been one of my favorite PC game series, in no small part due to its excellent music scores composed by Frank Klepacki, one of the few America video game musicians that I'd rank up with the Japanese gods of video game music. Obviously, when the long awaited Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun was released, the new score was one of the biggest things I was looking forward to. The results, I'm sad to report, are a bit mixed.
The greatest asset behind the music in the C&C series was the sheer variety - there was hip-hop, rock, industrial, techno, even orchestral - and all of it fit with action of the game. Unlike the gameplay of Tiberian Sun, which remains practically the same as the previous C&C games (much to the chagrin of fans), the music style in Tiberian Sun has changed considerably (much also to the chagrin of fans). The style is no longer nearly as varied. As a whole, the music is far more ambient and rather unmelodic. Most of it is very electronic oriented and very dank. According to the liner notes included with the Platinum Edition of Tiberian Sun, the music was intended to lean more toward the atmospheric side, and it works excellently in the game given the post-apocalyptic settings. On their own however, the tunes really don't stand out.
That doesn't mean there aren't any good tracks. "Lone Soldier" is a catchy, adventuresome piece of music, done almost in a sort of trance style towards the middle of the song. There is one main melody that is repeated constantly, but the accompaniment of other instruments pulsates, sometimes leaving the melody on its own before it is once again rejoined by the sound of drums and synth voices. "Heroism" is one of the only tracks that reminds me of the original C&C style music, which beams with almost New Age fascination without becoming overly sappy - the drums still maintain a good beat. "Pharotek" is most noticeable for its cool Egyptian undertones.
But there's even a problem with these tracks: some sound like they're cut short. It seems like the music decides to fade right in the middle of a song without providing a true climax. This isn't a flaw in the soundtrack though, as the actual game music is like this too. The other complaint is that they left "Nod Crush", one of the cooler songs in the game, off this soundtrack, even though there's certainly space (it's a fairly short song).
There are certainly a few standouts on the CD, but other than that handful, most tracks tend to be rather unmemorable and sort of jell together. While the songs have their own distinctive flairs, they aren't interesting enough for it to really matter. And while the Tiberian Sun soundtrack certainly isn't an earsore, I can't help but want for the hard rocking guitars or techno beat from Red Alert. I guess this is one time where I can actually say that change is for the worse.