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Rift Collector's Edition Soundtrack :: Review by Harris Iqbal

Rift Collector's Edition Soundtrack Album Title: Rift Collector's Edition Soundtrack
Record Label: Trion Worlds
Catalog No.: N/A
Release Date: March 4, 2011
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Rift is a MMORPG with an interesting scenario: beasts invading the players' world through rifts in the space-time continuum. Known for his work on RPGs such as Dragon Age, EverQuest, and Fallout, Inon Zur was selected as the composer for this title and, once again, composed a fantasy orchestral score. A soundtrack was available with the exuberant collector's edition package, featuring 17 tracks.


The title theme for Rift features Inon Zur's music at his most cinematic. More brutal than his thematic material for Dragon Age: Origins, Zur portrays the invaders of Telara's beautiful world with belligerent horns and merciless percussion. An ethnic chorus is featured towards the climax of the cue and keep the fantasy element intact; however, their beautiful voices exclaim desperate cries rather than elvan hymns in a further contrast to Zur's other scores. But the scenario is not without hope and the last piano-laced passage of the composition reflect the uncertain fate of Telara's beautiful world.

Following the title and introduction themes, Zur presents the beautiful central theme for Rift, "Guardians of the Vigil". Once again, this track uses vocal elements in an emotional matter. While the male chorus at the introduction serves as a portent of doom, the soprano voice at the centre of the theme — while not as striking as Aubrey Ashburn's performances — bring a very personal aspect to the game's drama. Blending fantasy staples with a surprising classical tilt, the orchestration only magnifies the emotional effect of this exceptional MMORPG.

The setting themes in Rift continue to build on the tradition of fantasy scores. For example, "The Silverwood" uses romantic interplay of radiant woodwinds and earthy cello to capture an exotic location, whereas "Stonefield" more akin to Zur's bombastic works on Crysis with its brassy orchestration and choral chants. While such tracks are derivative, Zur elaborates on their cores to offer more personal and fascinating compositions. A particular highlight is the theme for "Moonshade Highlands", which emphasises the core concept of 'darkness invading beauty' with its conflicted orchestration and development.

In terms of the development, each of the scores in the setting themes undergo a number of dramatic shifts to reflect emergence and dissipation of conflict. Zur built an interactive music system to achieve this in the game, partly based on building riffs. However, the shifts are often quite sudden in the collector's edition soundtrack and many tracks come across as compilations of several themes, rather than a cohesive overall piece of music. This will be troublesome to some listeners, though the scope each track encompasses is still impressive. A further issue is that a number of major themes from the soundtrack were cut from the stand-alone release.


Despite being built on the foundations laid by Howard Shore and other cinematic composers, Inon Zur still makes the Rift soundtrack his own. It's particularly impressive how he ensured the title adapted to the extended gameplay in the various areas of the game. That said, the collector's edition soundtrack does feature some presentation problems and notable omissions, reflecting that the best way to experience Zur's soundtrack is to play the game.

Overall Score: 7/10