Welcome back to Jukebox Heroes, the column that dares you to close your eyes and unplug your ears. Well, after you're done reading this opening, of course. So what's the greatest tragedy in modern musical history? Everyone has an answer to that, but mine will be, "How much Runes of Magic's score is overlooked because it's a free-to-play title."
Sure, the game shares enough DNA with World of Warcraft that the two titles can never marry or else they'll have inbred children, but RoM's soundtrack is anything but a clone of WoW's. Runes of Magic actually goes toe to toe with some of the greatest music I've ever heard in MMOs, and that's no exaggeration. I have to thank Massively's Jeremy Stratton for turning me on to this particular score.
According to a few accounts I've read, Runes of Magic's music is both cobbled together from tracks of other video games as well as original pieces composed specifically for this. I honestly don't care where the music comes from; I just care to turn my speakers all the way up and feel epic when it's playing.
So here we go with my absolute favorite tracks from Runes of Magic, minus a couple that I've shared on Massively before!
Each one of Runes of Magic's chapters has its own theme, and each one is goosebump-worthy. It's hard picking favorites, so I won't. Instead, I drew one of them out of a hat: Chapter 4. In a tight two minutes, you've got something that sounds like it should be at the forefront of a summer movie blockbuster, not a mere MMO. It just keeps building and building, and by the end you can't help but want to be ripping off your shirt and making household objects into legendary weapons.
I wouldn't call this my absolute favorite Runes of Magic track, but it's got a nice quality to it. Makes me think of a grand entrance, like a conquering hero returning home to a throng of celebrating people.
I don't know what "cataclistic" means, but if this track is any indication, it's "a frantic and desperate motion as one scrambles away from the end of the world." The chanting choir transitions to an uplifting ballad by the end, and then this short-but-sweet piece crashes to a close. Love it.
This starts out as an almost-forgettable piece of generic fantasy music, all except for the non-stop thumping in the background. There's a quite urgent feeling to this piece that culminates in its crowning moment of awesome at 1:52. It's at this moment that the build-up pays off, and it would be a far weaker track if it didn't have two minutes to get there.
At first, the music in this piece is like little fireflies, dancing about all prettily but being nothing substantive on their own. But when the 1:00 mark kicks in, there's a crashing wave of symphony that envelops everything for a little while. While the wave settles down, it comes back a few times in lesser form during the remainder of the track. It makes me think of a grand, empty mausoleum that's seen better days.
I was warring between posting this or Adventure as a carefree tune to go with your general journeys. Truth is, they're both pretty excellent and far from the bombastic score that is seen elsewhere. In fact, Traveling Tale actually sounds like something that came from an inspiring movie drama than a video game. It also has the full backing of a symphony rather than a synthesizer, and that quality comes out in the sheer variety of instruments at play here. It's not just great MMO music; it's great music period.
That's it for this week! Put in a plug in the comments for the next soundtrack that you'd like to see me cover on Jukebox Heroes, and who knows? Your selection might just pop up.
MMOs aren't just about looks; they also have great soundtracks that often go unnoticed. Heroes don't stand for that! Every other 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!