Soundtrack Central The best of VGM and other great soundtracks

Please sign up or log in for the best forum experience!

    Pages: 1

Jon Turner Dec 11, 2015

Sometime earlier this year I posted my review of XENOBLADE CHRONICLES on SoundtrackCentral and Adam was generous enough to publish it.  Given that I was so blown away by this soundtrack, I had high hopes for the sequel.

I have to admit that handing the job over to a composer better known for his work on Anime series like ATTACK ON TITAN was a rather curious move from the start, but I had hopes nonetheless.

As it turns out, XBCX is a nature of a different beast in terms of music.  While there are some beautiful tracks to be had, Hiroyuki Sawano's score is otherwise mostly bombastic, pounding, and heavily aggressive rock-flavored fare.  For the most part, considering the (literally) alien nature of the game's atmosphere, it seems well suited to the primal themes of survival against wild beasts.  Having said that, his score has a wildly rebellious attitude to its style, mostly in the form of providing vocal tracks to situations where one wouldn't expect them.  "Black Tar", in its attempts to sound gritty and hard-edged, ultimately comes across as goofy, especially in the rap lyrics which come across as the opposite of mature with lines such as "this world sucks!"  Reactions may be similarly divided about the theme for New Los Angeles, which again tries to use vocals to provide a similar tone.  Again, it comes across as unintentionally silly.

In spite of its occasional misfires, though, this isn't to say that XBCX isn't capable of turning out an occasional standout tune or two.  The opening theme which begins the score, "MONO.X" is a brilliant and epic piece, especially the choral driven moment toward the end of it.  And while "The Key We've Lost" is yet another vocal track, this one gets a pass for achieving a similarly epic tone with its rock-heavy flair.  Although part of it might be that I'm overly familiar with these two pieces since Nintendo used both of these songs to hype the game during the trailers at E3.

The tracks I liked best were some of the quieter ones, notably "Sylvalum"; this piece in both its daytime and nighttime versions is utterly gorgeous, painting a mystical, ethereal quality from the start.  Oddly, my favorite tracks might have to be the piano ones on Disc 4.  Although not as instantly recognizable or memorable as the original, these tracks are a refreshing break from much of the score's rambunctious flavor.

That's not the entirety of my review as I will be spending time on it before I decide it's ready to be published here, but my opinions on Sawano's work is that it is a rather curious and simultaneously fascinating work.  It's an interesting effort for a debut score from an Anime composer, but its experimental and sometimes overeager nature may understandably divide people expecting another score in the same caliber as XBC.  I can't say I'm disappointed with the soundtrack; it fits the atmosphere of the game well, but I wouldn't elevate it to the same level as the original.  That said, its gorgeous tracks do make it worth a look.

avatar! Dec 11, 2015

Jon Turner wrote:

Given that I was so blown away by this soundtrack, I had high hopes for the sequel...
I can't say I'm disappointed with the soundtrack...

Basically, for those of us that have no interest in the game nor series this is one to stay away from if the best fans can say of it is "I'm not disappointed" smile

Thanks for the review!

jb Dec 11, 2015

avatar! wrote:
Jon Turner wrote:

Given that I was so blown away by this soundtrack, I had high hopes for the sequel...
I can't say I'm disappointed with the soundtrack...

Basically, for those of us that have no interest in the game nor series this is one to stay away from if the best fans can say of it is "I'm not disappointed" smile

Thanks for the review!

It's typical Hiroyuki Sawano -- bloated, pompous and difficult to digest.

Jon Turner Dec 11, 2015

I hope you're not speaking for everyone, because Xenoblade DOES have a huge cult following.  That was an absolutely fantastic game that deserved every ounce of praise.  I haven't played Xenoblade X,  yet, but I will this Christmas, and I'm sure it'll be just as good.

I didn't say that it was one to avoid, just a curious mixture, that's all.  But there ARE some beautiful noteworthy tracks.  Anyway, my review isn't totally "finished" yet.  It's just a sample.

But I DO think this OST has grown on me somewhat, it's just important to know that it takes a radically different style than the original.

avatar! Dec 11, 2015

Jon Turner wrote:

I haven't played Xenoblade X,  yet, but I will this Christmas, and I'm sure it'll be just as good.

Why are you so sure? Most of the reviews I've read from Xenoblade fans seem to indicate that the game is mediocre or just down right poor in comparison. I've never understood the mentality of "oh, I'm sure it'll be great even though I've never seen/played/touched this before"!

Jon Turner Dec 11, 2015 (edited Dec 11, 2015)

avatar! wrote:
Jon Turner wrote:

I haven't played Xenoblade X,  yet, but I will this Christmas, and I'm sure it'll be just as good.

Why are you so sure? Most of the reviews I've read from Xenoblade fans seem to indicate that the game is mediocre or just down right poor in comparison. I've never understood the mentality of "oh, I'm sure it'll be great even though I've never seen/played/touched this before"!

I've seen just as many who find it just fine.  Depends on who you ask.  Hey, one of my pals is really in love with the game.

Ashley Winchester Dec 12, 2015

Jon Turner wrote:

But I DO think this OST has grown on me somewhat, it's just important to know that it takes a radically different style than the original.

I don't know. I was listening to the battle themes and while nothing was bad per say I couldn't help but think I''d appreciate what I was hearing more if I heard in in context. I'm not saying that's a bad thing but I'll probably never play the game.

I love both versions of Black Tar though. It's so cheesy it's good.

Jon Turner Dec 12, 2015

Perhaps when I get my chance to play the game (and I will this Christmas) I'll have a better take on it.  My friend at Playeressence is totally in love with the game, and trusting his judgment, I'm sure I'll enjoy it since I loved <i>Xenoblade</i> unreservedly.

Amazingu Dec 12, 2015

Jon Turner wrote:

I hope you're not speaking for everyone, because Xenoblade DOES have a huge cult following.  That was an absolutely fantastic game that deserved every ounce of praise.  I haven't played Xenoblade X,  yet, but I will this Christmas, and I'm sure it'll be just as good.

It's not.

It's nowhere even NEAR as good as the original in any respect, except the HD graphics.

I didn't dislike the soundtrack of the sequel as much as I expected I would (the music works surprisingly well in-game), but it doesn't hold a candle to the first game's OST.

Qui-Gon Joe Dec 12, 2015

My thoughts on Xenoblade X so far are that I can ABSOLUTELY understand why someone who liked the first game might not like the second.  The first one was kind of like a mashing up of a Takahashi story-based RPG and a western RPG or MMO structure.  This game, despite the opening taking a page directly out of other Xeno~ games leans vastly farther toward the latter.  The story exists just as an excuse to send you out exploring the planet.  As someone who loves environmental exploration in games (pathfinder division! Woo!) I'm having a lot of fun ignoring the plot and just seeing what Mira has to offer.  It really doesn't have the same feeling at all as the original Xenoblade, though.

Also, somehow despite the vivid color palette, the game FEELS much darker and "I'm trying to be mature for the stereotypical western 'gamer' audience" than the first game.  I can't quite put my finger on why, though.

The soundtrack?  Still super mixed bag.  The environmental music as you're exploring the planet works very nicely to give an exotic and alien feel, but there's just SO MUCH bad stuff in the OST overall.  I cringe when the vocals kick in during most battles and I'm pretty sure I'm going to start muting the TV every time I go back to New LA.  Yuck.

Ashley Winchester Jan 13, 2016

Qui-Gon Joe wrote:

The soundtrack?  Still super mixed bag.  The environmental music as you're exploring the planet works very nicely to give an exotic and alien feel, but there's just SO MUCH bad stuff in the OST overall.  I cringe when the vocals kick in during most battles and I'm pretty sure I'm going to start muting the TV every time I go back to New LA.  Yuck.

I don't know... I got the copy I ordered for my friend (I'd freakin' wish we'd work the same day already so I could give it to him) gave it a listen and I'm pretty indifferent on this one.

I can't help but feel that the fervor over the vocal tracks is somewhat overblown. I'm sure they can be annoying if heard too often in a short time but a lot of what I'm hearing kind of feels like it would work in context.

Still, I like some of the cheese so something like "Black Tar" is kind of up my alley.

Jon Turner Mar 5, 2016

Amazingu wrote:
Jon Turner wrote:

I hope you're not speaking for everyone, because Xenoblade DOES have a huge cult following.  That was an absolutely fantastic game that deserved every ounce of praise.  I haven't played Xenoblade X,  yet, but I will this Christmas, and I'm sure it'll be just as good.

It's not.

It's nowhere even NEAR as good as the original in any respect, except the HD graphics.

Having played through the game in question, I beg to differ.

I do think the original XB does have the more interesting storyline in terms of a single-player experience, but otherwise XBCX still absolutely deserves my highest rating.  It's addictively engrossing and a simply breathtaking achievement on WiiU, always fun to play and never boring.  I enjoyed every second of it.  The characters are fun and enjoyable, especially during the affinity missions and side quests (ironically, I found those more interesting than the main plot, but that's not to say I didn't enjoy the game's story at all; on the contrary!)  The voice work is also excellent, especially Cassandra Lee and Caitlin Glass.

I've spent about 200+ hours with this game and every second I really felt that the world of Mira is alive in more ways than one.  Musically, Sawano's score has grown on me, and I do like most of it, but I do wish the music was mixed lower in the cutscenes AND, in some cases, eccentrically chosen!  I didn't mind the NLA themes, even though they are more goofy than effective, but I found the use of rap/vocal tracks during the cutscenes distracting, especially during the cutscenes.

Other than my quibbles, though, I absolutely enjoyed XENOBLADE CHRONICLES X, and frankly, nothing about it stops me from giving it my highest rating.  It's an equally fantastic game, albeit for different reasons.

Latest Updates

Board footer

Forums powered by FluxBB