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Jukebox Heroes: Firefall's soundtrack


There's something about militaristic science-fiction shooters that brings out the piano in the composer, isn't there? That's what I was thinking when I first heard one of the Firefall themes. Not that the track was bad, just that it made me wonder why these simple piano themes have been linked to such games. Oh, it's probably because of Halo, but I'd like to think that there are greater reasons than that.

So this week we're going to be taking a crash course on the Firefall soundtrack. As far as I know, composers Michael Bross and Boon Sim's score isn't available to buy or download anywhere, so the avid video game score collector is going to have to do a little digital yoga to coax those files out of the library. I think it's worth hunting around for it, as Firefall's music is an obvious labor of love and a desire to create a quality product.

"Initially, we experimented with something that was mostly synth-driven and atmospheric," Bross said in an interview, "but then there was a desire from the team to have something that leaned toward the orchestral. Over time, though, we settled into something that combined both orchestral and modern elements that lend very well to an epic but atmospheric feel."

1. Login Theme

This is one of several login themes for the game, but I think it's probably the best out of all of them. It sets the tone with a very somber, almost melancholy beginning before transitioning to low-key buildup. You know, it's that part of the movie when the heroes think all is lost until hope arrives and everyone gears up for the final fight. That's exactly what this track is giving.

It's just really beautiful and confident in itself that it doesn't have to be a balls-to-the-wall orchestral explosion to make an impact. I love hearing how all of the elements layer in and out, taking turns between instruments and varying levels of intensity. Great stuff all around.

2. Yet Another Login Theme

Ignoring the apparently arbitrary numbering of the login themes that I've found out there, here's another take on the intro to Firefall. It's even more low-key than the track above, delving more into synth and a techno-eerie atmosphere. I really dig the sound of the notes used here and how the synth and orchestra combine instead of parting ways.

3. Trans-Hub Incursion

This is a tricky track to recommend. A good portion of it is almost generic action noise, but the part I like is when that cuts the heck out and the horns come in for this slow, epic toot-fest. What? All good music reviewers use "toot-fest" once in a while! It's a perfectly cromulent word.

4. Accord Battle Lab

You're not in for any sort of awesome melody here, just a light, trance-like beat that reminds me a lot of the music from Mass Effect. And you know what? I loved the Mass Effect music. Sometimes giving the synth full permission to take the reins can do wonders for differentiating your title. Plus, it just sounds more high-tech than violins.

5. Thumper Repair

Here's something more action-packed if that's your bag. We start out with those Inception BLAAATs as the pace picks up and really urgent music suggests that you should be jump-rolling over barricades and shooting plasma rifles, not sitting in front of a computer while procrastinating on your latest TPS report.

6. Frame Garage

We'll wrap up with another techno-giddy track. I like the little pips and pops that come in and out. Reminds me of this old Casio keyboard I used to own that I could never play. It had these options for a demo and different beats you could lay down. Something like that or this track is not going to get into big-boy music clubs these days, but there might be some of us who quietly admit to liking the fun that it brings to the scene.

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!

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