Hellgate London was a title that I was highly anticipating back in the day. It was a post-apocalyptic MMO action-RPG brought to us by the makers of Diablo, all with techno-warriors and jaunts through the London Underground. I was on board with that. Sure, we all know how it ended and will probably kvetch about it in the comments, but I feel comfortable in saying that the concept sounded pretty awesome.
Ironically, the sound is what remained with me long after my days in that game were through. It's no surprise, as the composing duo of Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan have tackled many other high-profile video game projects together, such as Prototype, Mass Effect 2, and Mass Effect 3.
This score is pretty easy to get a hold of these days (try Amazon). It's a solid pick that has a few great tracks, as long as you're willing to tolerate darker themes.
1. Main Title
Above all else, I love the theme for this OST. It begins with Exorcist-sounding bells and an eerie undertone that graduates into a full-fledged gothic jam. There are so many instruments at play here by the end, but apart from the bells, my favorite is the percussion. Some drummer is obviously having a ball in the background, and that gives this track a kick that pushes it over the top.
The theme strikes a perfect balance between setting the stage for a gloomy, demonic invasion and getting players pumped about being the people to fix that little problem. The final ringing bell on the track might as well be a starter's pistol.
Now, this isn't going to be a song that you'll put on the ol' Victrola when your neighbors come over for tea and crumpets. With a title like "Ambush," would you really expect it to be? Silly reader.
It's not the most noteworthy song of this lot, but it does give an adequate pulse-pounding chase track that's all about starting at a dead run and keeping up the pace.
3. Closing In
The evil harpsichord kicks things off this time for a tub-thumping little ditty that, for some reason, makes me think of Batman. Ironically, Batman listens to Starlight Vocal Band on his iPod when he's out on patrol.
Closing In brings back the title theme in bits and pieces, although it's played much more quickly and then tossed aside abruptly. That's fine. It works for me.
Like all of the tracks on this OST, Museum isn't a happy-go-lucky piece. It's just the nature of the game. Under much of this track is a growly, repetitive theme that is accompanied by other growly, repetitive notes. There's even a touch of a female voice in there, but it's gone so fast that you might have to rewind just to make sure you heard right.
The end result is a grungy, techno-industrial song that runs along the lines of the Terminator movie themes. Nothing so grand, mind you, just when it comes to the dun-un-dun-dun-DUN part. You'll understand when you hear it.
5. The Dawn of War
One of the difficulties I've had in reviewing this soundtrack is that so many of the songs sound alike. They're quite atmospheric and don't have a problem with throwing in a beat and some urgent tones, but they also don't provide stirring melodies or catchy bits.
That said, apart from the title theme, The Dawn of War is probably my favorite track. It's almost -- almost -- something that a house DJ could throw down and watch people thrash around to. It's definitely an exciting song with a crapton of energy and enthusiasm, and I have no problem listening to it over and over again.
6. The Covent Gardens
This track begins with noise, not music... and the kind of noise you might hear during an average day in hell. It's only at 1:06 when something like a song starts to play, although the industrial gurgling of the damned goes on and on.
Generally, I don't like purely atmospheric tracks, but I'm making an exception for this. It's just eerie in a Silent Hill-sort of way, and if I were going to make a haunted house, I might pick this as one of the background tracks to play.
That about wraps it up for Hellgate London. Which, if any, are your favorite songs from the game and why?
MMOs aren't just about looks; they also have great soundtracks that often go unnoticed. Heroes don't stand for that! Every Tuesday, Jukebox Heroes will check out a game's soundtrack and feature the best tunes to share and discuss. Your DJ for the hour is Justin Olivetti, and the request line is open!