Composed and performed by Pierre Estève, the Atlantis II Soundtrack features ethnic flavored music, played with synthetic and (mostly) real instruments that you’ve probably never even heard the names of. The CD-ROM section (MacOS and PC) on CD 2 features some photos of the instruments used here, as well as some top-notch hand-painted artwork from the games production design team. Again several sound examples from other Shooting Star Game Soundtracks are included as well (music also plays in MacOS).
In contrast to the first game, Atlantis 2 had four different regions to explore – Tibet, Mexico, Ireland and Sky – which are all reflected in the musical styles. Some tracks are over 7 minutes long; most pieces have been re-recorded and extended for the CD; only some tracks from the FMV sequences in the game feature the original sound-FX as well. Once again, most of the tracks are rather contemplative in nature, but there are some dramatic tracks as well (some sounding a bit like music from Myst 4 or Peter Gabriel). “UnderWorldWide Web” is a strange tribal chant. “Illumination” is an excellent track for meditating, with ethereal bell sounds cascading over deep bass drone pads, complemented by some choirpads, before a harp-like instrument cuts in.
My favorite track is “Knees Up”, taken from one of the movie sequences, an Irish flavored tune with syncopated rhythm… Also quite nice is the dark and brooding “Fintan’s Tree”, with guitar and some deep choir ambience (in the game this is heard on a little island, on which the crazy guy Fintan lives…mysterious – although the synthesized violin in the second part somewhat lacks convincing sound).
The “Tibet” track makes heavy use of gongs and bells. Some tracks of the “eastern” section go on for a long time without much happening, so this CD is more of a background music than something easily accessible to impress you’re friends with. Nonetheless “It’s Big If You’re Small” is perhaps the most melodic piece on this CD, and wouldn’t have been out of place in Shenmue, for example.
The last few tracks on this soundtrack are from the Sky Garden. A very fine track is “The sunken Isle”, with its harp arpeggio and (real) voice; sounds like straight out of a movie (just listen to the sound samples). The voice is hear only for 2 minutes though, the last 6 minutes of this track are a strange mix of various effect sounds…”Child” is from the very strange ending FMV in the game, synth-strings and a haunting flute melody bring this soundtrack to a satisfying conclusion…
Sound quality is fine, and the variety of real instruments (flutes, bells, gongs, guitars) make Shooting Stars OSTs unique in the gaming world. CD one is a little better than CD 2, but then this soundtrack isn’t for anyone to start with. I prefer the Atlantis II Soundtrack over the Atlantis -The Lost Tales- OST, but in the end both CDs are fine examples of how good game music can sound. If you have played the game, the music will bring back memories of locations. This CD is still available (at least in Europe; you can order it from the composer’s site or from Synsoniq Records webshop).