The Top 25 Soundtracks 2012: Number 22

Number 22: Ace Combat 6

One of my passions closely tied to gaming is music. Now that may seem obvious given the topic of discussion currently because after all who else goes through such lengths to find some of gaming's greatest music? But I point out my attraction and enjoyment of gaming soundtracks for a reason. To draw attention  to the question of how, in all the years I've been listening to game music and searching for new soundtracks, have I and every game soundtrack feature I've seen missed this soundtrack?

In fact, the only reason I reviewed this soundtrack was because it was one of the dozens suggested by many of my readers, and I'll admit I went into it expecting the usual: one or two particularly good and memorable songs with a lot of other decently good, but not epic, songs to listen to. Then the soundtrack started and I had the pleasure of being proven very, very wrong.

Ace Combat 6 is an arcade flight game. Picture high speed dogfights, jets and missiles, and you've got the right idea. With that in mind, you may expect (and I did expect) some sort of Top Gun styled rock music with screaming guitars. But no, Ace Combat instead gives you this. A militaristic, tension inducing piece that wouldn't be out of place in a Metal Gear game. But that's just the menu theme. When you actually get to the game itself, it greets you with this.

Ace Combat 6 defies the genre expectations (and the common expectations of most modern game soundtracks) by playing with a fully orchestrated emotional suite. Rather then attempt to capture the emotions of blink-and-you'll-miss-it-combat, Ace Combat 6's soundtrack instead focuses on extracting the tense feelings of emotion that accompany all of the other moments: the briefing, the takeoff, the form-up. 

What results is an orchestral soundtrack that at differing times is evocative of tenseness, determination, desperation, loss and victory, all in equal parts and moments. It is a testament to the composers that emotion comes across so strongly in their work. Carrying a powerful range of emotions and conveying them accurately is difficult for many soundtracks to achieve, yet Ace Combat 6 accomplishes this with almost a feeling of effortlessness. Some may find it to be a little on the heavy handed side, and rightfully so. As music tends to elicit all manner of reactions in people, for some the style of Ace Combat 6 may be a little much. But for many the sound of Ace Combat 6 will be a welcome addition to their collection.

Ace Combat 6 scored highest in Stand Alone Quality due to its excellent range, but lowest in it's Game Representation, although to be fair with these scores its not saying much, and has about as much to do with how the player plays the game as anything else. It also managed to pick up a bonus point in the form of Non-Gamer Approval.

Ace Combat 6
Enjoyment: 4.25
Stand Alone Quality: 4.5
Composition: 4
Emotional Reaction: 4.25
Game Representation: 4
Non-Gamer Enjoyment: 1
Nostalgia: 0
Total: 4.4

Ace Combat 6 earns a respectable place at number 22, especially considering its newcomer status and relatively unheard of nature. Do yourself a favor and track this one down.

Number 22--Ace Combat 6 by Keiki Kobayashi, Tetsukazu Nakanishi, Hiroshi Okubo, Junichi Nakatsuru, and Ryuichi Takada (Hereafter referred to as various)
Number 23--Grim Fandango by Peter McConnell

No comments: