Archive for the ‘Unreleased’ Category

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Ultima X: Odyssey Soundtrack (Chris Field)

November 14, 2010

A few months ago, I posted a feature on the Ultima X: Odyssey (2003) song “Gothic Combat” by Chris Field of Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings fame. Shortly afterward, the composer’s studio contacted me to let me know if I wanted a copy of the soundtrack to share. Due to my schedule, it has taken me awhile to prepare the album for release, but here it is in MP3 format (a FLAC version will be coming as soon as I can figure out how to get my software to properly generate a cue sheet).

UPDATE: FLAC Version is now on MegaUpload.

Ultima X: Odyssey Soundtrack

UXO is quite the musical odyssey. Though the game was never released, its score provides a unique look into the aural journey of a quest never taken. Mr. Field takes us from rolling fields to the dark forests of Kingwood and up the ethereal slopes and dancing snow of Glacier Pass to Mount Bold, rising tall, majestic, and dominating. From here we reach the caves and fortresses of monsters, the looming darkness of “The Black Gate” and “Redfangkeep” with its minimalist, silent corridors and the brewing tension of ambush. While there does appear to be an epic confrontation in the “Mouth of Evil”, this opens up only a more distant land beneath the “Desert Sun” – there is no end to the quest of an MMORPG, no final credits, only more territory to traverse, more adventures to unfold.

The score of UXO is in many ways a step beyond Ultima IX: Ascension in that the score used an 81-piece orchestra conjuring sweeping vistas and epic adventures as opposed to the more intimate recordings of the smaller orchestra from Ultima IX. This is further enhanced by the tremendous acoustics of Bastyr University Chapel, whose architectural style is doubly fitting for the medieval themes of the score. The recording of this forgotten game was clearly a crowning moment in videogame history when art was exalted above all else.

Nobable is the “UXO Main Theme”, a proud, noble track opening the epic quest that lies before the player, beckoning them to follow this great odyssey through endlessly expanding lands. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Ultima X: Odyssey – “Gothic Combat” (Chris Field)

June 18, 2010

You might call this “the best music to games you’ve never played”. There are quite a few unreleased titles out there, some with better music than others. Ultima X: Odyssey, the ill-fated MMO sequel to the series’ less than stellar 3D debut, is one of them. Graphically on-par with World of Warcraft (this was 2003), Ultima X: Odyssey could have competed with Blizzard’s MMO had EA not been afraid of alienating fans of Ultima Online. The game also featured an orchestral score by film composer Chris Field (Lord of the Rings series, Pirates of the Carribean 3, Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus). Ultima X happens to be the only game soundtrack Field has composed for (which is a shame, considering it was cancelled but it’s so good). EA wrote off a LOT of money on this, considering the soundtrack was recorded by an entire orchestra in a cathedral (these places have great acoustics). The setting is also ironic, considering the featured song is “Gothic Combat”.

Ultima X: Odyssey – “Gothic Combat” (Chris Field)

“Gothic Combat” is short but sweet. A dramatic choral piece, it is full-on with the lowering menace of drums and brass, accompanied by flute and clarinet. There is a driving melody with nice layering and variations of the main notes. This is just the sort of music you would expect to listen to while when slugging it out with broadswords in blood and sweat and chainmail. Unsurprisingly, Field used ideas from his Lord of the Rings score, as “Gothic Power” (featured on his homepage), sounds remarkably similar. “Gothic Combat” was used as the soundtrack for a documentary on the game’s music.

The documentary states that the music to a game is usually overlooked, and Field seems to have succeeded in creating a wonderful score that has so much to it, you can always find something new with each listen. The documentary also states that the music can either make or break a game (a bold statement, but one that holds some truth – bad music can make a game unplayable, but great music can make a game’s poor graphics seem so much better). Sadly, the game fell through for reasons other than its music – so this statement would appear to not be entirely true. However, game gets minus points for crappy concept box art.

The Ultima X soundtrack is at least 23 songs in length (I only have six). They were originally hosted on EA’s website, but have since been removed.