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City of Heroes Going Rogue Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

City of Heroes Going Rogue Original Soundtrack Album Title: City of Heroes Going Rogue Original Soundtrack
Record Label: NC Interactive
Catalog No.: iTunes
Release Date: June 9, 2010
Purchase: Download at iTunes


Going Rogue is the latest expansion of NCSoft's ongoing MMORPG City of Heroes. The scores for the franchise have received little attention in the past and have not been released in album form. The developer intended to change that on Going Rogue by hiring Hollywood composer Jason Graves to offer an all-new score for the expansion and create a more epic, cinematic feel for the game. The results were proudly released in a digital soundtrack earlier this year.


The prologue theme "Welcome To Nova Praetoria" immediately reflects the superlative nature of Jason Graves' scores within the music-for-visuals industry. The musical elements and features used in this track will be familiar to most Hollywood score buffs: dark choruses, belligerent brass, heavy sampled percussion, sweeping chord changes, etc. However, this approach was desired by the producers and Graves is still able to demonstrate much creativity and originality. Simply put, everything sounds more refined, artistic, and multifaceted than the sheer majority of cinematic themes out there and it's impressive how much is seamlessly integrated into one theme. Transitions such as the one at the 1:40 mark sound magical and the conclusion of the track perfectly blends a sense of epicness with mystery.

In addition to offering cinematic epics, Graves produces several cutting-edge action themes on the score. Tracks such as the ironically titled "Just Another Day In Utopia" and climactic "The Dark Side of a Perfect World" demonstrate his approach well. Both have incredible rhythmical energy due to their emphasis on compelling bass and percussive figures. In addition, through Graves' bottom-up approach, they offer a fulfilling and ever-changing timbre. Somewhat unique to this score is the integration of electronic elements with orchestral samples. The hybridisation of these elements is no doubt is intended to convey the 'good versus evil' concept of the game and is particularly pronounced in the final cues in the score. This is always skilfully done, both from a compositional and technological perspective.

Another remarkable feature of the score is Graves' approach to slow atmospheric cues. Graves is able to offer a range of novel soundscapes on the score and, unlike many game scores, these tend to develop rather than stay static. Some tracks such as "Beyond the Shadow of Doubts" portray an evil lurking in the shadows before calamity breaks out. Others such as "Beyond The Horizon" have the reverse effect, building from uncertain origins to an uplifting electro-acoustic segment. A particularly fine ambient fusion is "Ghost in the Machine", which mixes the horrifying dissonant strings approach of the Dead Space score with pulsating electronics fitting for City of Heroes. Regardless of the specific elements and circumstances, the resultant cues are always immersive and emotional in and out of context.


On City of Heroes: Going Rogue, Graves has developed a hybridised sound scheme that perfectly embodies the concept of the game and is also delightful to listen to on a stand-alone basis. He does not provide a particularly thematic score, but makes up for it by offering richness and dynamism. Those who enjoy cutting-edge cinematic scores are advised to sample and download the City of Heroes Going Rogue Heroes Original Soundtrack from iTunes. It won't disappoint.

Overall Score: 9/10