|Final Fantasy XI OST|
|Catalog Number: SSCX-10069/70 (limited edition SSCX-10067/8, reprint SQEX-10017/8)|
|Released On: June 5, 2002 (reprint May 10, 2004)|
|Composed By: Nobuo Uematsu, Naoshi Mizuta, Kumi Tanioka|
|Arranged By: Nobuo Uematsu, Naoshi Mizuta, Kumi Tanioka, Shiro Yamaguchi, Hidenori Iwasaki, Hirosato Noda|
|Published By: DigiCube (reprint Square Enix)|
|Recorded At: Victor studio 301, Sunrise Studio|
|Format: 2 CDs (limited edition includes 1 DVD)|
01 - "FFXI Opening Theme" ~Legend - The Crystal Theme, Memory of the People, Memoro de la Ŝtono, Memory of the Wind~
02 - Vana'diel March
03 - The Kingdom of San d'Oria
04 - Ronfaure
05 - Battle Theme
06 - Chateau d'Oraguille
07 - Batallia Downs
08 - The Republic of Bastok
09 - Gustaberg
10 - Metalworks
11 - Rolanberry Fields
12 - The Federation of Windurst
13 - Heaven's Tower
14 - Sarutabaruta
15 - Battle in the Dungeon
16 - Sauromugue Champagne
17 - Mhaura
18 - Buccaneers
19 - Battle Theme #2
20 - Voyager
21 - Selbina
Disc Two01 - Prelude
02 - Regeneracy
03 - Hume Male
04 - Hume Female
05 - Elvaan Male
06 - Elvaan Female
07 - Tarutaru Male
08 - Tarutaru Female
09 - Mithra
10 - Galka
11 - Airship
12 - The Grand Duchy of Jeuno
13 - Ru'Lude Gardens
14 - Recollection
15 - Anxiety
16 - Battle in the Dungeon #2
17 - Blackout
18 - Mog House
19 - Hopelessnes
20 - Fury
21 - Tough Battle
22 - Sorrow
23 - Sometime, Somewhere
24 - Xarcabard
25 - Despair (Memoro de la Ŝtono)
26 - Castle Zvahl
27 - Shadow Lord
28 - Awakening
29 - Repression (Memoro de la Ŝtono)
30 - Vana'diel March #2
Final Fantasy X featured three of Square's (at least moderately) well-tested composers. For the next game, the first MMORPG based on the world of the Final Fantasy series, Square decided to have two of their newer recruits, Naoshi Mizuta (Parasite Eve II) and Kumi Tanioka (some tracks for various Square games) work with Uematsu on the score. But given the different style of game, as well as the relative inexperience of these two, how well did the score work?
Composed by Nobuo Uematsu, with orchestrations by Shiro Hamaguchi, "FFXI Opening Theme," opens with the strands of the prelude. It segues into a march, which is pleasant enough, but the real substance of the track is in the choral song "Memoro de la S^tono". The song is sung in Esperanto, which is a pseudo romance language. The song itself is very powerful, and the choir does a great job enunciating the lyrics. (I've heard some recordings of "Ode to Joy," for example, where you couldn't hear the words.) After the song ends its last foreboding notes, the track proceeds to a hopeful-sounding flourish, finishing with the prelude.
"Ronfaure," also by Uematsu, is a medieval styled track, from the percussion to the melodic structure. Running over 4 minutes, the track repeats its simple melody over varying percussion. The great thing here is that the melody line itself is even altered slightly, as if it were a live performance, giving emphasis at different points each time. The rest of Uematsu's tracks are quite good, with the possible exception of "Sometime, Somewhere". In particular, "Airship" is a nice electronic track that, although in a slightly different style, retains the feel of some of his classic airship themes.
There is quite a bit of repetition of the kind in "Ronfaure" in Mizuta's work on this soundtrack as well. He uses this style well in "Vana'diel March." It's an upbeat track with a great melody line, and the prelude is playing in time with the beat. "The Kingdom of San D'Oria," also a march, uses, surprisingly enough, bagpipes as its main instrument. The beat, as is common with most marches, stays pretty static throughout, but the melody line here varies quite a bit. The best part of the piece is where the beat quiets down, and some strings add a more solemn touch, before finishing off with the main section of the piece. Sometimes, however, the repetition does not work in Mizuta's favor, such as in "Sauromugue Campaign" and "Buccaneers", which are repetitive without using the form in an interesting way.
"Heavens Tower" is a pretty lengthy piece by Mizuta. The background uses a nice layering of a xylophone-like sound and chimes, while various woodwinds play in the foreground. The song has a layered sound to it, somewhat like Xenogears's "One Who Bears Fangs at God," but slower and more layed back. The instrumentation is something that isn't usually seen in an RPG, and the overall atmosphere of the track is quite pleasing aurally. I love these sort of tracks when they're done well.
Tanioka didn't write very much for the soundtrack, but her contributions are mostly noteworthy. "Gustaberg" is a calm and somewhat beautiful track, while "Metalworks" and "Ru'Lude Gardens" are just very nice melodically. She also handles the female character themes, however, and these are pretty uninteresting. Then again, so are Mizuta's tracks for the male character themes.
There are some nice lively tracks from Mizuta, such as "The Federation of Windurst" and "Selbina," but he also did a great job with the melancholy "Xarcabard" and the slow, plodding, very long "Castle Zvahl" (Its loop is over 8 minutes). His battle themes are decent, but they have extremely similar structures, and get tiresome before too long. "Tough Battle" on the other hand, is different. It's a very dissonant track, but the dissonance is well used, and it isn't inaccessible to the casual listener.
"Awakening" is the music for the battle with the Shadow Lord. Composed by Tanioka, this track is everything Mizuta's normal battle themes are not. The melody has Tanioka's rather odd style to it, which is complemented very well by the percussion line. The instrumentation is varied, the pacing of the track varies significantly with each section, and the entire thing is great.
The Final Fantasy XI soundtrack is very strong. Mizuta's music here seems generally fresher than in his subsequent FFXI efforts, and Tanioka and Uematsu's styles add some very nice variety. The style is slower, more repetitive than previous Final Fantasy scores, but the result is at the very least good is considered apart from its musical lineage.
Reviewed by: Ben Schweitzer
Despite the lack of interest in Final Fantasy XI Online, it doesn't mean there should be a lack of interest in the soundtrack as well. Not much was known at all about the score to Squaresoft's first online game other than that Nobou Uematsu would return; as well, Yasunori Mitsuda had been asked to contribute, as well. Unfortunately, as his schedule was busy with Xenosaga at the time, he was unable to do so. Like Final Fantasy X, the score was composed by three contributers: Uematsu himself, Naoshi Mizuta (who wrote the majority of the tracks), and Kumi Tanioka.
What we have in this two-disc soundtrack is an excellent set of songs. Though much shorter than any Final Fantasy soundtrack as of late (not many online games have a huge collection of tunes like a traditional Final Fantasy would), the score is impressive. Like any FF score, there are, as always, battle themes, opening themes, and even character themes. Without looking at track names, one can pick out the opening and battle themes easily. Whether FFXI overall has that Final Fantasy feel, is really left up to opinion, though I'd say Uematsu's own tracks maintain that feel better than the others. The 'FF Prelude', naturally, is present here, the only difference from the traditional Prelude being an ever so slight echo in the background.
As mentioned before, there are individual themes for each character class and gender; 'Elvaan Male', 'Hume Female', and at least a couple of other classes, as well. Though not exactly the highlight of the album, the characters' themes are all very much upbeat, especially the female classes. 'Elven Female' however, almost seems out of place here with its beat, which almost sounds like modern pop. Well, as modern as the early '90's, anyway. The album is well-balanced in both the pace and feeling of the songs, and the latter is truly there in quite a number of tracks. A very good example of this is Uematsu's 'Recollection', a very pretty medley of harp and strings.
Often you'll hear tracks that might remind you of past Final Fantasy songs, or even of each other. Mizuta's two Battle Themes are fairly similar, down to the instrumentation, with the first having a more upbeat feel, although both can be picked out as the battle themes without even looking at track names. 'Chateau D'Oraguille', while not one of Uematsu's tracks, starts out rather similar to 'Northern Crater' (FFVII), and 'Heaven's Tower' is a true Final Fantasy town (or field) theme. I loved the simplicity of 'Mhaura'; it has this peaceful type of charm, as do a few other slow tracks, but especially this one.
Even after Final Fantasy IX's (Uematsu's last solo score) rather disappointing soundtrack, this and Final Fantasy X both hold proof that he hasn't lost his touch completely. Although the female character class themes may stick out like a sore thumb, still, the three composer's works fit together quite well. Listening to this score over and over almost makes me wish it went on for as long as a typical Final Fantasy soundtrack. I wouldn't dare call it perfection, but in the end the length of this score itself just might be that. For those Final Fantasy fans who plan to pass the game up, I'd advise them not to pass up on the soundtrack. Honestly, I'd advise just about anyone not to. However, if you're looking for the Limited Edition, you'll be out of luck if you didn't pre-order or get your hands on it shortly after it was released.
Reviewed by: Liz Maas
I have to admit that with all of the negative and skeptical press Final Fantasy XI has received ever since being announced at Square's infamous Yokohama Millennium Conference in January 2000, along with the fact that I didn't consider myself a fan of Naoshi Mizuta, whose score of Parasite Eve II was a truly monotonous affair, made it rather hard to look forward to the game's soundtrack. Luckily, I ended up pleasantly surprised by this two CD set.
On the one hand, while the music is reminiscent of previous old school Final Fantasy installments (in particular the Super Famicom games and Final Fantasy Tactics), it also has a distinctive, special flair that should fit well into the virtual world of Vana'diel. Contrary to its predecessor's sometimes upbeat and creative tones, Final Fantasy XI's soundtrack offers its listeners more mysterious and darker tunes while never getting monotonous. Anybody who doesn't know what kind of soundtrack he or she is listening to could easily mistake the first 40 seconds of the Opening theme as well as the "Prelude" (both composed by Nobuo Uematsu) for tracks from a previous installment. Of course Final Fantasy's infamous battle theme makes its return, this time in several different versions. Even though I would refrain from calling any of them a favorite of mine, they still sound as great as ever to true fans of the series. Sticking to another Final Fantasy tradition, character themes are back. Eight different character themes are used to introduce the game's races (Humes, Elvaans and Tarutaru each have one theme for female and male).
Mizuta's "Vana'diel March," which features Esperanto vocals, is of almost epic proportions and shows that the man definitely is capable of doing better than his first solo project, Parasite Eve 2. More than half of the 51 tracks found on the two CDs are composed by Mizuta, among which I found the previously mentioned "Vana'diel March," "Galka" and the mysterious "Castle Zvahl" in particular noteworthy. "Tarutaru Male" is a more light-hearted track, which allows the listener to guess about the true potential Mizuta has.
The pieces scored by Kumi Tanioka are generally the most light-hearted on the soundtrack. "Hume Female" and "Tarutaru Female" serve as the best examples to that rule. Nonetheless, her work isn't confined to light-hearted tracks. By scoring what is apparently the game's final battle theme, "Awakening," and the gloomy "Shadow Lord", just like Mizuta she shows off some of her talent. Last but not least, let's take a look at the tracks scored by the grand master of Final Fantasy music, Nobuo Uematsu. The few tracks he has scored (only 11 out of 51) are as solid as ever. This is particularly true for the Opening Theme and "Repression."
While I was rather skeptical about this soundtrack prior to purchase, I can only recommend it to any fan of game music. Mizuta and Tanioka have both proven that they can indeed deliver great game music and Nobuo Uematsu has once again produced a more than solid Final Fantasy soundtrack. After Yasunori Mitsuda's recent work on both Tsugunai and Xenosaga left me rather unimpressed, this soundtrack was a welcome and positive surprise. Whether Kumi Tanioka and Naoshi Mizuta can close the gap that still lies between them and composers like Nobuo Uematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda or Yoko Shimomura remains to be seen. Final Fantasy XI Original Soundtrack was at least a huge step in the right direction.
Reviewed by: Chris Winkler
First and foremost, that DVD thingy; don't expect too much. It contains three versions of the opening video: one in Dolby Digital, one in Surround, and one purely as a music clip. Next there's a short clip containing Uematsu's comments on the main theme (it's sung in Esperanto this time) plus a remix of that theme accompanied by some pictures of Uematsu. The Limited Edition packaging looks great though, regardless of whether you like Amano or not. It's very stylish, a bit reminiscent of Final Fantasy VIII's Limited Edition OST, but with more black. Nice.
As for the music itself, it is composed by Nobuo Uematsu, Naoshi Mizuta and Kumi Tanioka. Take note that Uematsu only did 11 out of 51 tracks, so if you're looking for "The New Uematsu OST," this is not it. All his work is immediately recognizable as being Uematsu, and you can take that as you please. Most of the soundtrack is done by Mizuta who has his ups and downs. I never knew he did Rockman & Forte and Parasite Eve 2, and you definitely can't tell when listening to this soundtrack. Some of his music tends towards ambient though. Tanioka's efforts were quite dull in my opinion.
The first CD contains the opening theme, which is very very good, your classic Uematsu meets Hamaguchi kind of stuff, which I still can't get enough of. It also contains all Town/Castle/Field themes and most battle themes. Battle themes (not done by Uematsu this time) are pretty good and serve their purpose. Castle/Town themes sound appropriate if slightly dull, and most Field themes are rather nice. Most of it is very laid back, not really emphasizing melody, but just music that's easy to listen to. There's a lot of variety in here though, which is definitely the strong part of this soundtrack. There's march music, Celtic, ambient-ish music, jazzy stuff, and lots of other things. My main gripe though is that there aren't really any strong melodies here. I found a lot of the music to be very reminiscent of Suikoden II, using the same kind of instrumentation, but just not reaching up to its high standards.
The second CD contains Character and Event themes, plus music from the final stage of the game. The game is divided into several species, each of which has a unique male and female theme (which is very useful from a pro-creational point of view); Mizuta has done all the male themes, Tanioka the female ones. None of it stands out though, and even the final scenes from the game don't sound very exciting or thrilling or suspenseful or whatever.
The absence of Masashi Hamauzu and minor involvement of Uematsu means that there are NO Piano themes on this soundtrack, which is a shame (say what you want, but "At Zanarkand" saved most of Final Fantasy X's boring ass), although it has plenty of themes that sound like they may result in a nice piano collection.
Overall, a nice laid-back soundtrack, nothing really special, but not particularly bad either. I just hope Uematsu's meager involvement implies that he is currently using his full force on a really good soundtrack, because I know he can do it, he just refuses to. In my humble opinion, Final Fantasy IX showed that he's still "got it," but I think the problem is that Square is just not giving him enough time what with Final Fantasy's popping out like young rabbits nowadays.
Reviewed by: Tim Van