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Assassin's Creed II Original Game Soundtrack :: Review by Steven Kennedy

Assassin's Creed II Original Game Soundtrack Album Title: Assassin's Creed II Original Game Soundtrack
Record Label: Ubisoft Music
Catalog No.: iTunes
Release Date: November 16, 2009
Purchase: Download at iTunes


Assassin's Creed II the follow-up to Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed, is the latest video game score from Jesper Kyd (composed of the popular Hitman series). The game launched in November 2009 for various platforms. The first Assassin's Creed score was well-conceived, but didn't sustain enough interest as an album. This time around, Kyd moves in a more adventurous direction, adding symphonic and choral components to a diverse array of acoustic instruments, inevitably lending a grander scope to the music. It should come as no surprise then that the score is already receiving critical notice from within the industry and from fans of the game; Assassin's Creed II recently won the Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Original Score.


"Earth" opens the first disc with a plaintive female vocal on a beautiful melodic idea. It eventually develops into pulsing action music. This major concept recurs throughout the following tracks. Percussive, rock-like beats tend to drive the music forward, while Kyd's beautiful melodic writing weaves throughout the textures. The score is made all he more compelling by a vairety of folk-like melodic ideas and colors that feature intricate guitar writing reminiscent of Renaissance music. There are moments of ambient sound as well, but they are used far more sparingly than in other scores by the composer.

Other highlight of the first disc include "Home in Florence," an intricate coupling of piano and bass lines with strings that gives way to delicate harp writing. "Approaching Target I" works through subtle color changes to build tension, while the dance-like "Venice Escape" takes on more contemporary rock overtones and brings the disc to an upbeat close.

The second dic opens with the unsettling "Darkness in Florence," achieving a more mysterious sound and appropriately dark colors. "Sanctuary" follows with a dark, pensive feel in which different textures float over a string pedal. These blacker colors continue to flow through the better part of the disc. Disc Two also revisits scenarios from the first disc, here presented with some variation as befits their appearance in laer aspects of gameplay, where the goal is closer in reach. Overall, this disc features more drum machine work than the first, though it never really overpowers the acoustic instrumentation.


Assassin's Creed II is epic in scope and is probably the best score Kyd has written to date. Film score fans will find it a distant cousin to Howard Shore's music for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, coupled with Joseph LoDuca's Xena material. Overall, this album represents nearly two hours of fine music making.

Overall Score: 9/10