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Prince of Persia The Forgotten Sands Wii Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Prince of Persia The Forgotten Sands Original Wii Game Soundtrack Album Title: Prince of Persia The Forgotten Sands Original Wii Game Soundtrack
Record Label: Ubisoft Music
Catalog No.: Promotional
Release Date: November 8, 2010
Purchase: Download at Amazon MP3


On May 18, Ubisoft released Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands at the same time as the film release for the franchise. The multi-console project actually comprised two games with differing gameplay, graphics, and, indeed, scores. It was announced some time before the game's release that Tom Salta (Red Steel, Advanced Warfighter) would be handling the score for the Wii, PSP, and DS version of the game, while Steve Jablonsky would lead the soundtrack for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 versions. Salta offers a considerably different approach to the franchise's music to create an authentic and cinematic feel for the game. Following an early physical release for review purposes, the Prince of Persia The Forgotten Sands Original Wii Game Soundtrack has now received a commercial digital release at last, which reflects the composer's accomplishments on the title.


Tom Salta's offerings significantly contrast from the previous scores for the series. Instead of Chatwood's gritty rock tracks or Zur's bombastic orchestrations, he offers a much more ambient approach featuring a percussive focus and ethereal soundscaping. Salta extensively uses world music instrumentation throughout the soundtrack, such as the doubek, kora, khangira, ney, bowhammer cymbalon, and even some custom-made instruments. The convincing writing and expert performances provide a far more authentic middle-Eastern sound than previous entries in the Prince of Persia series. Nevertheless, Salta still evokes the feeling of a contemporary film score too, due to his computer-based integration of the various sampled recordings. The resultant soundscapes are often comparable to Remote Control Productions' world fusions, though thankfully sound more veritable and sincere.

The Prince's Theme "Sacrifice" is a particularly striking introduction of the soundtrack. Salta passes a wailing motif between an Iranian vocalist and a ney instrumentalist to build up a sense of tragedy. Both performers offer exactly the desired qualities for the composition and have a synergistic effect when paired together. While ethnic chanting has become something of a laboured feature of film scores, Azam Ali's voice is sufficiently expressive and distinctive to overcome the stereotype. Although built using many of the same elements, the sorceress' theme "Breaking The Seal" creates a very different quality. The vocals of Judith Bérard have a much more ethereal quality to them and provide a sense of divinity. This theme is certainly a highlight on a stand-alone level and, in context, it is bound to be especially striking. Zahra's theme "The Peri" meanwhile reflects a more mystical side to the soundtrack with its perplexing harp arpeggios and overblown woodwinds. It develops into a more multifaceted entry than the previous themes due to its considerable development, while leaving a certain ambiguity central to the storyline.

Despite its ambient composition, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands is still evidently an action score. Most tracks on the soundtrack feature a focus on Arabian percussion instruments and are highly rhythmically compelling. "The Stranded Castle" and "Harbinger of the Gods" epitomise Salta's approach; like "Sacrifice", both tracks are led by middle-Eastern vocals and woodwinds, yet are greatly accentuated — perhaps even overpowered — by their underlying percussion polyrhythms. It's also fascinating how the compelling effects of these tracks is often subliminal. For example, the way "The Ancient Halls of Izdihar" evolves from its minimalistic origins into its percussive centre is firm yet subtle; it will take most gamers on a considerable journey without them even realising it. "Final Confrontation" meanwhile is incredible for the way it evolves through so many different rhythmical patterns and soundscapes during its five minute playtime, giving a sense of an ever-evolving final battle filled with twists and turns.

On superficial inspection, Salta's offerings for Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands have a homogenous feel to them, due to the focus on similar elements throughout. It is clear on closer inspection that each theme has been intricately composed to fit the specific game context. However, sometimes the contrasts will be too subtle to retain interest on a stand-alone basis and 36 similarly styled tracks will be overbearing for certain consumers. Thankfully, the score still has a solid thematic foundation that is reflected particularly in the character themes. There are reprises of the core themes throughout the soundtrack and the recurrence of the Prince's Theme — especially in the reflective "Loss" — that enhance the accessibility of the soundtrack on a stand-alone basis and also work well in context. Like he did in H.A.W.X., Salta also crafts an expansive nine minutes credits medley that recapitulates several of the core themes from the score in epic fashion.


Evidently, Salta offers an extremely serious and atmospheric score for Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, blending percussively driven action segments with sorrowful emotional moments. The music is highly effective in conjunction ith the storyline and gameplay, though can sometimes become samey on a stand-alone basis. Nevertheless, the thematic strength and musical intricacy score still makes it a potentially worthwhile listen. Until now, the soundtrack releases for Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands have focused on Steve Jablonsky's entirely different, but not necessarily superior, soundtrack to the next-gen version. It is excellent that Tom Salta's distinct soundtrack for the Wii game is now available commercially and it is well worth downloading.

Overall Score: 8/10