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Dead Rising 2 Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Dead Rising 2 Original Soundtrack Album Title: Dead Rising 2 Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Sumthing Else (North America); Suleputer (Japan)
Catalog No.: SE-2099-2; CPCA-10229/30
Release Date: November 16, 2010; December 1, 2010
Purchase: Purchase at Amazon


The production of the zombie action game Dead Rising 2 and its spinoff Case Zero drastically differed from their predecessor, since Capcom outsourced development to Blue Castle Games in Vancouver. This move made sense, since the games primarily had a Western audience and were extremely American-influenced — from their characters, to their setting, to their music. Accordingly, the original Japanese composers of Dead Rising did not return and instead were replaced by a team led by versatile newcomer Oleksa Lozowchuk. The composer carefully blended licensed vocal tracks, ambient and action-packed underscore, and various game show gimmicks to complement the titles. A two disc compilation of music from the games was released through Sumthing Else in the West and Suleputer in Japan in time for Christmas. Is the soundtrack as effective as a stand-alone experience as it is in context?


The soundtrack mainly focuses on the instrumental compositions from Dead Rising 2 and the majority of the licensed tracks are omitted. Nevertheless, the popular main theme "Kill The Sound" by Celldweller headlines the soundtrack release. In line with modern zombie culture, this track is a full-throttle hard rock anthem, complete with Klayton's abrasive vocals and thrashing backing guitars. However, it stands out against most head-banging anthems with its memorable riffs, electronic infusions, and persuasive lyrics, all of which suit the scenario of the game. Co-composer Lozowchuk also managed to integrate the theme for the main character Chuck into parts of the track, setting a precedent for its unifying appearances across the soundtrack. There are some other vocal themes on the soundtrack, including the new age piece "Atlantica" to the disco parody "Diva Comeback Amore", but these are subsidiary to the experience.

Moving to the instrumental pieces on the soundtrack, Lozowchuk certainly takes the production values of Dead Rising 2 to the next generation with some headlining tracks. It is particularly interesting how the composer defines the score relative to Dead Rising. Thematically speaking, "Chuck Everyday Man" provides the full rendition of the main character's theme and gives some novel rock riffs to latch on to. More impressively, several tracks also give the soundtrack a unique voice stylistically: "Dead Rising II" with its minimalistic horror soundscaping, "TK Overtime" with its action-packed fusion of so many elements, and "Case Zero with its ever-evolving timbres and breathtaking climax. Clearly the music was written in the spirit of Dead Rising, yet it has a more authentic Western sound and production values comparable to Hollywood.

Among the guest contributors to the soundtrack, The Humble Brothers (Ken Marshall and Traz Damji) make the greatest impression. Reflecting their experience in the mainstream industry, their vocal offering — the dark electrifying anthem "Terror is Reality" — has already generated considerable acclaim. They also demonstrate their flair for cutting-edge electronic sampling on several collaborations with Lozowchuk. "Militiamen Rooftop" works perfectly in the game, setting just the right pace and intensity for these secret encounters without being overbearing. "Slappy" depicts a challenging encounter with a psychopath with brisk tempos and raw beats alongside more specific and exotic interjections. These mash-ups are just two examples of how the composers both depict the scenario and adapt to the gameplay of Dead Rising 2, and most of the other characters in the games have equally detailed portrayals.

Jeremy Soule's production company also make a surprising guest appearance here. "Mercenaries", in particular, makes a giant impact both in and out of context. Soule combines one of his trademarks — a dissonant reverberating string ostinato — with all sorts of ambient noise and distorted electronic sounds. The sudden intensification from the two minute mark takes gamers from the state of being 'on edge' to being 'truly petrified'. In accord with Soule's more artistic leanings, the abstract and emotional piano introduction of "Escaping Town" is also spectacular for setting the scene at the climax of the game. The way it metamorphoses into a gritty guitar-driven action theme by Lozowchuk offers one of the biggest 'feel good' moment of the entire score. Their contributions also include two of a handful of cinematic cues that are effective in the game, but too short to be worthwhile on a stand-alone level.

The supplementary second disc is dominated by incidental music used in specific events in Fortune City. Lozowchuk composed an incredible variety of music for these parts, while offering authentic music and considering contextual intricacies. His offerings range from classic instrumental rock in "Americana", to humorous folk dances such as "Bratwurst Polka", to parodies of various cinematic scoring styles, to, better still, some abstract chiptunes in "PubOGold". Some tracks are even reminiscent of Dead Rising, such as a range of smooth jazz shopping music (e.g. "Super Shopper", "Speedy Expresso", "Mall Mavin") and hillibilly jingles (e.g. "Wild West Grill", "Mechanical Bull", "Rosie's Diner"), though these will be particularly annoying to many out there. I won't even elaborate on what to expect from "Peep Show", though the name gives it away...

It was an excellent production decision to distinguish the first and second discs of the soundtrack release. This ensures that the various novelty tunes don't distract from the main experience, while still being readily accessible for those who want to listen to them. Such a collection is so diverse and gimmicky that few are likely to enjoy them en masse and most can be safely skipped. However, most are still likely to find favourites among this set. For me, the highlights are the nostalgic guitar wanderings of "Cucinna Italianna", the abstract jungle soundscapes of "Yucatan", and the colourful synth solos of "Wonderland". However, tastes will differ and I daresay some will even find those screechy hillabilly tracks endearing. The bonus tracks include prototypes and alternative versions of familiar tracks from the main soundtrack, including a string quartet version of "Kill the Sound" and a bonus rendition in the domestic release.


Overall, the Dead Rising 2 Original Soundtrack builds on the foundations of the original game's soundtrack while offering enhanced variety, intricacy, and production values. The Western artists involved here were clearly able to fulfil Keiji Inafune's image of the music for the game with authentic stylings, top-notch equipment, and impressive collaborations. Significant chunks of the soundtrack will be unappealing to particular groups of people — whether the abrasive vocal themes, the more cinematic tracks, or certain novelty tunes — yet this is inevitable given how important certain tracks are for defining specific scenes and the game as a whole. Conversely, there is bound to be something here for every consumer and it will depend very much on the listener whether such material is sufficiently dominant in this chaotic release. Those who enjoyed the abundant instrumental tracks and defining ending theme while playing the game will find the stand-alone experience particularly worthwhile and should seriously consider purchasing the import soundtrack.

Overall Score: 8/10