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Red Steel 2 Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Red Steel 2 Original Soundtrack Album Title: Red Steel 2 Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Ubisoft Music
Catalog No.: Promotional
Release Date: July 12, 2010
Purchase: Download at Amazon MP3


Red Steel 2 was the more critically acclaimed yet less commercially successful sequel to Ubisoft's East-meets-West action game. This time the game set an unnamed hero against a gang of psychopaths in the dusty wasteland of the Wild West. The composer Tom Salta considerably modified his approach for the Red Steel score to depict the change of scenario. He evoked a feeling for the setting with references to all sorts of western movies, yet nevertheless retained an emphasis on Asian elements due to the origins of the main characters. The Red Steel 2 Original Soundtrack features 24 tracks from the game and is now available digitally.


Right from the main theme, it's clear that Tom Salta has significantly modified the concept of Red Steel 2's score. This time it is much more western-influenced and has plenty in common with Ennio Morricone's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Listeners are presented with a composition dominated by the rustic guitar performances of Steve Ouimette. Its colours are continually enhanced with evocative use of flute, whistling, chorus, and other Wild West instruments. This culminates in the segue from the suspenseful ambient opening section into a full-blown action-packed anthem at 1:55. The theme is extremely tight stylistically — evoking memories of several westerns while still having a unique voice. It also introduces a memorable melodic core to the soundtrack and the theme is reprised several times in the soundtrack to rousing effect.

Nevertheless, Salta still keeps the distinctive Eastern flavour of the original score alive, to represent the persisting clash of cultures. Listeners will be dazzled with evocative performances from pipa performer Min Xiao-Fen throughout the score. It's especially fascinating how her performances provide a new level of energy and aggression to action cues such as "Ninjas in the Mine" and "Into the HQ". There are also powerful performances from the shakuhachi, fue, and a spectrum of Chinese percussion instruments. These instruments are used in everything from haunting scene-setters like "Enforcers' Mood" to action cues such as "Caldera Trap" through to divine creations such as "Back to the Old Centre". Through a combination of expert writing and performances, the use of both Asian and Wild Western instruments on the Red Steel 2 score is highly refined and effective.

I wanted to bring as much color and life to the score so I hired a variety of instrumentalists. The primary instrument was the guitar, and so I enlisted veteran studio musician Steve Ouimette. He was an amazing guy to work with for crafting very specific guitar tones and getting stellar performances. The main Eastern color came from Min Xiao-Fen, a world renowned Chinese Pipa player and vocalist. - Tom Salta

Overall, Red Steel 2 has a much more consistent sound than its predecessor and focuses almost entirely on 'Wild West meets Asia' fusions. This might be disappointing for those expecting something as eclectic as Red Steel and the sources of contrast and diversity are generally more subtle this time. However, it ensures a more consistent underscore to the game and allows Salta to really focus on a particular sound. Nevertheless, there are some interesting deviations into more contemporary elements once more. Listeners are offered everything from a wild bluegrass performance in "Let's Dance" to experimental electronica in "Roofs at Night" through to more Hollywood-influenced sounds in "Ambush". Fortunately, even these themes integrate some regional influences, ensuring the score is a cohesive one. The conclusion nicely closes the various thematic and stylistic threads of the score, fading out to the meditative piano grooves of "Tamiko".


The Red Steel 2 score is clearly very different from its predecessor, due both to its spaghetti western influence and its greater cohesiveness. The resultant score is a fine complement to the game and one that many players have already fallen for. As a Wild West score, it doesn't quite top fan favourites such as Outlaws or Wild Arms 5 as a stand-alone experience, but it makes up for that by offering interesting fusions with Asian forces too.

Overall Score: 8/10