Saturday, 9 November 2013

Batman: Arkham Origins Video Game Score Review

Title: Batman: Arkham Origins

Composer: Christopher Drake

Year Of Release: 2013

Score Themes: Darkness, madness, heroic

Game Synopsis: Years before the Arkham incidents, the neophyte Dark Knight finds himself the target of an open contract courtesy of Black Mask that draws the likes of Deathstroke, Deadshot, and Bane.

Hello! I'm very excited to review the score for Batman: Arkham Origins! Batman is one of my favourite heroes in the comic book world, and scores relating to Batman usually turn out in fairly good shape! Take Hans Zimmers wonderful Dark Knight trilogy, one of my favourite score trilogies! This time, Christopher Drake has been recruited to tackle the next installment into the Arkham setting, and he has to handle a younger and less experienced Batman. Christopher Drake has done some magnificent scores in the past, most noticeably the score for The Dark Knight Returns Parts 1 and 2!  So, it's no surprise that this is one of my more anticipated scores of the year, so lets see if it delivers!

Arkham Origins Main Theme starts us off, and it sounds a little like Zimmer's work for The Dark Knight trilogy. There is a heavy emphasis on strings and brass throughout the entire piece. It certainly sounds like a Batman theme, and one of the better ones out there! Not many negatives within the piece, to be honest! The Night Before Christmas is a haunting and harrowing piece. It has a distinct reliance on the percussion here, and it brings worth sounds which perfectly replicate the Christmas kind of feel. Black Mask Escapes is faster and more dangerous than it's predecessor. There are some brilliant riffs lying all through this piece, but the piece lasts for a mere 0:47 seconds, so we don't get much! Killer Croc is something of a longer version of Black Mask Escapes, with a little higher intensity and pace, which really has a big effect! There are various edgy and distressing riffs that fire all throughout the piece, and it makes for an interesting ride. Christopher Drake never lets any come off as lazy or 1 dimensional. There are so many aspects to this piece, and whilst it is filled to the brim with constant, original riffs, it never feels too overwhelming.

Croc Arrest has much more of a distinct theme to it than our last Killer Croc themed piece had. It's short, but awesome, as is our next piece, Batwing Storm Damage, which only lasts 0:39 seconds! It's a strong piece in the brass and percussion areas, but it doesn't do much in it's running time, for obvious reasons. Assassins is one of the more infectious pieces in the score so far. It's got some heavy percussion, and some really powerful brass. It goes to so many places in it's running time, and not a second is wasted! Weapons Deal is a softer, Christmasier piece. It's short, but it manages to capture some aggression and the feel of Christmas. The Final Offer starts off with either a heavy synth riff, or a single note being played over and over again on an electric pedal guitar. Either way, it's a slightly irritating piece due to this continuous riff. It's not stacked with much, and it is one of the more dull pieces on the score so far. The piece Deathstroke, in my opinion, perfectly replicates Deathstroke himself in music. It's fast, it has a heap of aggression and grunt and it never relaxes. All these points are so perfectly captured! An uneven beat makes for an impressive first few minutes. The strings and brass, once again, are a main focal point in this piece. The piece surprisingly never feels like it drags on for too long, despite the fact that the same rhythm and beats are used for fairly long durations.

Winter Comes To Gotham returns to the Christmas vibes. It's slow and manipulative, and it almost reminds me of some 80's horror film! More recently, Marco Beltrami's Carrie score, as a matter of fact. It's a dark piece, that keeps your interest the whole way through! Carols Of The Bells doesn't feel like it has a specific mood to it, which is a little confusing. It's light and bubbly, mixed with a dark overshadowing of brass. It feels so much like The Joker, so unpredictable and strange! G.C.P.D returns to the heavy brass and percussion we got in Deathstroke, to create a faster and more infectious beat to begin with. This piece in particular feels so much like Zimmer's Dark Knight. The amount of power in the percussion is insane towards the end! Can't You Just Play Along? is incredibly dark and unfocused in it's direction. You don't know where anything is going, what's happening until it happens. It's quite exciting, to be honest! It's thrilling climax is perfect for the kind of piece Drake wanted to create. Merchant Bank Escape is a fast and direct piece and doesn't take it's time on finishing up and ending with a bang! Copperhead is slower, more methodical, more dangerous. It constantly reinvigorates itself, recreates itself, with a stop start kind of format that I usually hate, that strangely works here! Hallucinations is a piece which screams madness! You can almost hear The Joker laughing as the piece ramps up! It's edgy, twisted and demented. Every second of it's 2:57 are so incredibly intense, so brutal, that the piece will leave you physically drained.

Snake In A Box is a charming yet mischievous piece. I feel like it ends much too quickly, with a running time of 0:40 seconds. Night Patrol has an heroic tone to it, mixed with an edgy and fierce riff that plays the entire way through. Regent Hotel uses most of it's playing time to build to a less than appealing climax. The piece doesn't offer too much, unfortunately. Bane plays to the effect of Bane, like I expected. It's heavy and powerful, and sets itself to an almost marching beat, which I personally loved! As of this point, Drake has managed to perfectly recreate most of the main characters into music! Why Would You Save... Me? is a mixed bag. There are some key moments which are done to perfection, mixed with some moments where the tone is really undefined. The Thieving Magpie is such a strange piece in the context of this score! It's so chirpy and wonderful! If I hadn't have seen the cutscene this piece is included in, I would've been completely lost! If this doesn't bring a smile to your face, there is something truly wrong with you! It's a great composition by Drake that will stick to your memory for sure!

The Bridge is not nearly as exciting than many of it's previous pieces, and it's full of an uninteresting melody, to my dismay. Firefly is the longest piece on the score, clocking in at 6:00, and showcases some of the more intricate and powerful riffs and melodies within the score. Despite it's length in comparison to a lot of the other pieces, it continually stays fresh and very energetic, to my delight! It runs the line between darkness and heroic, with some aggressive and brutal riffs, mixed in with some strong Batman themes. It's climax is one of the better riffs this score has to offer! I won't state the full name, just I Have Left, is a short piece full of some saddening and touching moments. Like a lot of the rest of the score, I don't know the tone of the piece, and it's hard whether to say it's dark or quite the opposite. Allies is an incredibly sad and sombre piece. It manages to hit the emotional mark quite well, and it's got some heart wrenching moments, to be brutally honest. It ends with a big change in tone and pace, and turns itself into a dark and brooding piece in a matter of seconds. Electric Chair is much like a lot of The Joker's themes. Edgy, raspy and dark. The underlying theme to this whole score, darkness. It's a little slow, but it's got enough smart and interesting riffs to keep you invested. One Of Us Will Die sounds like Bane, Batman and The Joker, all in one piece, and that it should be! The cutscene this piece is titled after includes all three of those characters. It's threatening, edgy and almost brooding.

Shadow Of The Bat is quite obviously The Batman's theme. It's fast, cunning and sane. It's the very opposite of The Joker! You sense there is a complete sense of control in the music, that Drake is certain for what is to come next, unlike The Joker's themes, at which were unpredictable and random! Arkham Origins End Titles is a very smooth and dark piece, that perfectly sums up the experience that has been the Arkham Origins score! It's heroic and brutal, which makes for a perfect ending! But, we're not finished yet. Arkham Origins Suite is pretty much a showcase of some of the best riffs from the score, and this makes for a very interesting piece. Drake mixes so many melodies and riffs into an almost perfect standard! It's ending is sublime, and I'm glad to say I really do approve this score!

Christopher Drake has knocked it out of the park here! There are a couple of points in which the score turns a little dull and silly, but these are clearly overshadowed by the dark tone and incredibly fast and aggressive power that this score showcases. It's one of Drake's best scores on it's own terms, and I can say for sure that this score plays into the game incredibly well. It's an hour and 4 minutes well spent, in my opinion. If you're a fan of superhero scores, this will certainly be to your liking!

Arkham Origins Main Title*
Killer Croc
The Thieving Magpie*
Arkham Origins End Titles*
Arkham Origins Suite*

Individual Piece Scores:
Arkham Origins Main Title-100*
The Night Before Christmas-95
Black Mask Escapes-80
Killer Croc-98
Croc Arrest-90
Batwing Storm Damage-79
Weapons Deal-87
The Final Offer-73
Winter Comes To Gotham-97
Carols Of The Bells (Jokers Theme)-86
Can't You Just Play Along?-90
Merchant Bank Escape-82
Snake In A Box-78
Night Patrol-83
Regent Hotel-75
Why Would You Save.... Me?-80
The Thieving Magpie-100*
The Bridge-70
I Have Left Enough Life In Him For Some Final Words... If You Hurry-80
Electric Chair-87
One Of Us Will Die-90
Shadow Of The Bat-95
Arkham Origins End Titles-100*
Arkham Origins Suite-100*

Junkie Score: 89.84

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