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TimeSplitters Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

TimeSplitters Original Soundtrack Album Title: TimeSplitters Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Free Radical Design
Catalog No.: N/A
Release Date: January 1, 2006
Purchase: Download at Official Website


Following the success of Goldeneye, a four person team left Rare to form their own video game company in Nottingham, Free Radical Design. One of these was long-time game composer and sound director Graeme Norgate. For their first title, the PlayStation 2 launch title TimeSplitters, Norgate built on the approach of his earlier first-person shooter scores while offering plenty of unqiue goodies.


Right from the main menu, Norgate reflects the electro-orchestral stylings to expect from the soundtrack. The theme is abstract enough to reflect the time-travelling scenario, but groovy and lyrical enough to still be fun. Some of the samples sound dated over a decade on, yet still achieve the desired effects. However, it's with stage themes such as "Cyberden" and "Docks" that Norgate really demonstrates his talent. Mixing the punchy orchestrations influenced by Goldeneye with electronic stylings reminiscent of Perfect Dark, these tracks really define Norgate's FPS sound. The sheer exuberance of both compositions is impressive — with their rich texturings and multifaceted development — ensuring the environments are portrayed in a detailed and immersive way.

That said, the soundtrack for TimeSplitters is much more diverse than the soundtracks for Rare's own shooters. For example, the earlier stages "Egyptian Tomb" and "Chinese Restaurant" feature the distinctive tonalities and instrument samples stereotypical of the represented nations. Later in the experience, listeners are presented with lightest piece of music on the soundtrack — the jazz-flavoured "Mall" — right before being blown away with gothic chorus and organ at their most bombastic in "Graveyard". These major shifts in style are more reminiscent of the approach of old-school action games than modern cinematic shooters, demonstrating Norgate's roots. It may make the score somewhat less subtle than its counterparts, but the result is so much more accessible and entertaining.

Thankfully, Norgate ensures TimeSpitters isn't a hotchpotch of musical styles. Even with the more derivative compositions, the composer introduces features conserved in the rest of the score — for example, offering a moody orchestral support throughout "Egyptian Tomb" and introducing military snares at the climax of "Graveyard". However, it's certainly the electronic tracks that Norgate asserts his own identity most firmly, whether with the twisted espionage grooves of "Chemical Plant", the uplifting trance beats of "Spaceship", or the dark dreamy soundscapes of "Virtual Tileset". While very different, each of these tracks are so detailed and creative that they aren't quite like anything else featured on a game score. It is perhaps these tracks that most define the soundtrack of TimeSplitters.


Overall, Graeme Norgate offers plenty for consumers with his score for TimeSplitters. Mixing classic scoring techniques with more modern and individual methods, the final score fits the game's diverse environments and excellently. For those who enjoyed the music of Goldeneye or Perfect Dark, the TimeSplitters soundtrack is a must-have. It can be downloaded for free at Norgate's official website.

Overall Score: 8/10