The Lost World Original Soundtrack "from the Playstation and Saturn Games" is Dreamwork's first game soundtrack release, purportedly the first original game soundtrack to consist entirely of a live orchestral score, and one of the few movie license games to use solely original compositions. That's right, none of John Williams' music is present here. Instead the score is composed and conducted specifically for the game by Michael Giacchino.
While William's music may not officially be a part of the game soundtrack, his influence can certainly be felt. I was struck at first by how similar some of the music here sounded to Williams'. In particular, some of the orchestral transitions between themes are quite reminiscient of Williams' work in the Star Wars trilogy... probably too much so.
As for the themes themselves, well, no specific terms come to mind to describe them. As can be read in Dreamworks' production notes, Giacchino takes the approach of creating themes for the various characters/dinosaurs in the game and varying them for the different stages. My problem with the themes is they fail to conjure any strong feelings. I don't get the emotions of fear or danger that I would expect for this type of game, nor do I experience mental images of the game scenarios. Now there are exceptions. "Base Camp Rampage", for instance, is pure adrenaline all the way. Frantic strings and blaring brass combine to create sufficient sense of danger and excitement, in perhaps the most powerful performance of the score. Meanwhile, "The Sulfer Fields" shoots for a slower, more ominous sound instead, and succeeds.
Most of the tracks, however, fail to match that sense of excitement or danger, nor do they really hit the opposite end of the spectrum in creating ambience. The best I can do to describe my problem with the themes is they are too "bouncy". I almost get the image of these happy little dinos bopping along in the forest. Since much of the game appears to be of a slower-paced, adventure-type nature, the music possibly works fine in that context. But alone on a CD, it's a bit mundane.
The other problem with the CD is the arrangement of the tracks. Each track runs slightly above the two-minute mark, no doubt in order to fit the constraints of the game. Unfortunately, this leaves little room for Giacchino to develop his themes. Put the character's theme in there once or twice, diversify it a touch for the stage, throw in some Williams'esque transitions in between, and you've got the scenario for pretty much every track. The constant, immediate jumps from one track to another make it difficult to really delve into the music.
There is an exception to the short-track rule as well, and that comes at the end of the disc. After yet another short arrangement in track 19 come a few hidden arrangements. They run for about four minutes each, and the benefit of the extra time (almost double) is enormous. These pieces combine some nice steady jungle percussion with *well-paced* developments of a major character theme or two.
Performance-wise, it's all orchestral and all good. The performance is solid, the recording quality is crisp and clear, and the orchestration is superior to some Japanese orchestral game arrangements I've heard. But a strong performance alone isn't enough for most listeners.
The Lost World soundtrack tries to bridge the gap between game and film music, and although it's a nice attempt, it's more hurt by the limitations of the two than it is boosted by their strengths. The restricted track length turns out to be the major culprit. The CD is perfectly listenable and the domestic price is right on the money, but don't expect to come away with anything particularly memorable from the experience here.