Sunday, 18 March 2012

Lost in the Music: Assassin's Creed 2

     When I first played the original Assassin's Creed, I was sceptical. Sure, the idea of an alternate history game set in the holy land during the Third Crusade could be interesting, but it could also be downright dumb. Well, after suffering through annoying beggers, repetitive missions, annoying beggers, super drowning skills, annoying beggers, fighting off the infirm and sick and have I mentioned the annoying beggars, I had realized, despite all of the above that I had a pleasant experience. The story hooked me, the atmosphere was breathtaking and the one thing I look, well listen to most, the music was absolutely beautiful. So I was wondering, how in the name of Those Who Came Before was Ubisoft going to top the Assassin's Creed 1 soundtrack.

    Much like how Assassin's Creed 2 was polished, blowing it's predecessor out of the water, the soundtrack is an even greater success. Jesper Kyd gave Renaissance Italy a sound unlike anything in the industry at the time. Whereas other sandbox games featured more heavy metal type sounds, real artists or a more subdued styling, it never really captured my attention the way Assassin's Creed 2 soundtrack did.

The eagle searches for his enemy..
     The way the assassin moves is much like how a predator will stalks his prey. He will use the environment as his defence. That bench along the wall becomes hiding spot. The target doesn't suspect the man in the robes is an assassin. All he see's is a monk deep in thought, possibly deep in prayer. When the mark walks past him, the last thing he will feel is cold steel entering the base of his neck, severing the spinal cord. But you cannot scream as his hand is clasped over his mouth silenicng his scream. The words, Requiescat in Pace, are whispered as the mark feels his life slip away. He never saw who it was, but now notices the priest on the bench is gone.

     That is the feeling that Approaching the Target 3 invokes. It stays very low key while the percussion beats in sync with your heartbeat. This song is very engaging and perfect for those late night moments when playing Halo against your best friend.

He will learn patience.
James Bond, Solid Snake and even Batman all have have a unique musical motif. Their respective songs fit with their personalities. With Ezio in Florence, it fits the younger Ezio perfectly. He has an element of boyish charm and is much more brutal in his ways of dispatching his foes. He has not yet mastered the subtleties of being an assassin and this song reflects that mindset. While the song has some finer, more civilized facets, it still starts off brutal. Much like the protagonist

Anarchy and chaos in the streets of Florence.
     Earth (or Heart) is a unique song on this soundtrack. It mixes the 15th century Renaissance music with an other worldly feel to it. It starts off slow but picks up speed and quickly evolves into a variation of the song Venice Rooftops. This is not a bad thing however as you'll see later.

     As much as I love this song, I did place it lower on the list because of how busy the sound feels. Unlike Venice Rooftops where it sounds more streamlined, this version they are trying to tie in the other worldly feel to it and it becomes quite messy. The song is still great and I enjoy, but It is still a bit of a mess when it tries to incorporate both melodies. Still, it is an enjoyable song.

Youthful love. In a time before an
     They say home is where the heart is. That warm feeling you get, as if wrapped in a blanket curled up in a chair by the fire place. All is silent but the fire. That is feeling one can get from Home in Florence. It is a song that makes you feel secure and safe and that the worlds ills cannot harm you. Home in Florence is a perfect way to balance out the more high spirited, high action songs. While the song is comforting,  there is an air of mystery about it, tying in the mystique of the Auditore family.

     I love this song for the fact that it does take a break from the  pulse pounding tunes. That even in the darkest of times, one can count on their family for strength and guidance. An excellent track.

Not Venice, but just as awe inspiring.
     If there was to be an official theme for the Ezio Trilogy, it would be this one song as it is possibly the most well known songs on the Album. Not only does it have it's place in Assassin's Creed II, but has also been featured in Brotherhood and when Namco Announced Ezio was the guest character for SoulCalibur V, they used this song for his reveal. If I were a betting man, I'd wager that this song will make an appearance in Revelations as well, the song is that good.

     Venice Rooftops is a song like Scott Pilgrim's Another Winter. It is a song that you would listen to at the start of an adventure. While the latter is a high energy chiptune, the former is heart pounding theme topped with vocals and percussion beats that seem to coincide with ones own pulse. When listening to this song, it does make it feel like you are are in 15th century Italy.

     In my previous article, I discussed how the songs were close in standing, where two songs are so close they can be changed in between each other. This time, there are no other song that can come close to topping Venice Rooftops. It has a perfect blend of stringed instruments, percussive beats and a slight touch of a church choir.


So there you have it, my top 5 list. You can find the soundtrack here at Amazon. Hopefully this list will help you think about getting the soundtrack and if not, well then remember one of the tenets of the Creed: Laa shay'a waqi'un mutlaq bale kouloun mumkin.

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