Adventures of Lara Croft are pivotal to gaming history and the idea of Lara Croft, in this iteration or other, still lives on. As I was playing the newest game last year, I felt a bit homesick, though.
It’s more about replicating the past instead of re-making it.
It might be that the majority of my early childhood gaming experiences was watching my father play one Tomb Raider game after another, and a certain magic typical not only for the mind of a child staring at the screen with fascination, but the convention used in „early” Tomb Raider games.
Peter Connelly was one of those composers that helped shape those older games into New Adventure Cinema with their magical scores. Specifically, The Last Revelation, Chronicles and Angel of Darkness. After a shaky kickstarter campaign and a few long years, his re-recording project of his soundtracks was finally released. So how does it sound?
Adventures of Lara Croft are pivotal to gaming history and the idea of Lara Croft, in this iteration or other, still lives on. As I was playing the newest game last year, I felt a bit homesick, though. It might be that the majority of my early childhood gaming experiences was watching my father play one Tomb Raider game after another, and a certain magic typical not only for the mind of a child staring at the screen with fascination, but the convention used in „early” Tomb Raider games.
The main themes separate the album into three chunks.
The entire Dark Angel Symphony (buy) consists of 38 tracks of 70 minutes, hand-picked by Connelly himself. The main themes separate the album into three chunks, each of which includes a dozen or so tracks. All of them filled to the brim with elegant-action-flick bravado, poetic moments, adventure cinema sounds. Coming back to them is a really strange journey back to the „older” game music.
Considering how purely orchestral scores are not that popular now, The Dark Angel Symphony takes us back to hear how cool such music in a videogame can be. Brother Obscura, the main themes, Jeep Thrills and many others bring back a certain nostalgia with them. The playful nature of those tracks, which sound like they drew many inspirations of adventure cinema composers, bring us back to a certain mindset of games being fascinated by technological possibilities of including orchestral scores, figuring their identities out as an art form and, lastly, making it all about fun.
It cuts both ways, though. The collection highlights the composer’s knack for orchestra, it sounds refreshing and gives you the satisfaction of hearing your favourite themes played „better” (by this I mean that I never disliked the older versions). As such it will most likely please the fans of the scores and games (like it did for me).
On the other hand, I feel like such collections do little to encourage possible fans to experience older music. Mix of short tracks, some of which sound a bit campy and old (Minotaur Battle), may deter some after a couple of tracks played. Of course that boils down to the philosophy of the project and the target group, but I think that despite me being pleased with re-experiencing those tracks, some may feel different.
I can’t help but think of The Dark Angel Symphony as a set of impressionist letters.
This collection is an excellent lesson on history of game music as well. Shorter tracks fit within shorter in-game scenarios or shorter cutscenes are the opposite of today’s longer, drawn-out sequences, and tracks like Just in Time or Dance of Lux Veritas accentuate each specific gameplay sequence with a different theme, differentiating it from others. I can’t help but think of The Dark Angel Symphony as a set of impressionist letters that bring back those separate, fleeting moments back from my memory.
Stylistically, I’ve always had a soft spot for Angel of Darkness and I think this is where the collection shines the brightest, with live strings adding a whole new level of subtlety and elegance to Periapt Shards or Broken Glass. That part might just be the best on the album, but I’m biased here, There is also a sort of a single here, The Last Revelation which opens the album with Tina Guo’s cello part, and it’s one of the best tracks on the album.
I feel so conflicted about this album. I love the premise, I enjoy going back in time, notice the production value and respect Connelly’s choices of the tracks, but the album may be a bit too dated for some to fully enjoy. The construction of the material, what it was made for, and some stylistic choices seem to replicate the past instead re-making it.
I love the premise, I enjoy going back in time.
As such, I think it will please the fans and fans alone, those who backed the campaign and/or feel nostalgic towards these games (like me), but to break through the generational gap it would need more work. I recommend it to all who like anything Tomb Raider and wish to see how the times were back then.