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Armored Core 2 Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Armored Core 2 Original Soundtrack Album Title: Armored Core 2 Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Absord Music Japan
Catalog No.: ABCA-69
Release Date: September 21, 2000
Purchase: Buy at eBay


The PlayStation 2 launch title Armored Core 2 featured many technical advancements. Facilitated by the console's enhanced specifications, the soundtrack for the title streamed a range of experimental electronic music. Testifying how far video games had become, it was even headlined by a major professional DJ. But beyond making a statement, is the music actually enjoyable and effective?


The soundtrack opens and closes with major guest contributions by German DJ Mijk van Dijk. "RoboComBat" instantly captures the dark and futuristic nature of the game with its moody soundscaping before building into an action-packed techno track featuring pounding electronic beats and scenic treble frills. It's pretty mainstream in its approach, but it is nevertheless convincingly composed and beautifully implemented. Reflecting that the series featured cutting-edge electronic music even in 2000, this track is up there with van Dijk's greatest hits.

"Theme of Armored Core" offers a further testmanet to the artistic ambition of the series' music. It's not thematic in the slightest — featuring interesting arrays of beats rather than any memorable melodies — but it still creates a soundscape quite definitive of the series' music: hard yet soothing, mechanised yet ethereal, direct yet subtle all at the same time. However, those interested in just Mijk van Dijk's contributions should note that the artist released an EP featuring extended remixes and an additional track inspired by the game.

The numerous contributions by the From Software sound team feature a more experimental electronic sound than that presented by Mijk van Dijk. This is instantly reflected by "Opinion of the Way", a dense, distorted, and urbanised composition that makes quite a big impact in context and will divide listeners on a stand-alone basis. Other fascinating contributions include "Atom Smasher" with its highly robotic samples, "Mint" with its audacious voice samples, and "Lynch Law" with its raw threatening sound. Of course, the series' recurring theme "Shape Memory Alloys" also receives a suitably impacting arrangement here.

There is an impressive diversity in the electronic music featured here. More ambient compositions such as "tick-tack-toe" and "U-turn" are reminiscent of Aphex Twin with their deep yet colourful approach. They definitely aspire to be more highbrow than other game music out there, while still fitting the serious game scenarios. Towards the end of the soundtrack, there are some deviations from the electronic focus, such as "Boiled Wars Man" with its slick jazz links and "Beatmask" with its bizarre voice samples. Though a little gimmicky on the soundtrack, these tracks have their place in the game at least.


Armored Core 2 certainly represents the peak of the series' electronic scores. The majority of the music aspires to be more unconventional, serious, and intellectual than the vast majority of electronic game music out there, aspiring particularly to the likes of Autechre. It's debatable whether the music has more substance than other game scores, though it is impressive how this more unconventional approach to scoring still fits wonderfully with the scenes. Overall, a potentially enjoyable experiment.

Overall Score: 8/10