Nobuo Uematsu, once the sole composer for any game in the Final Fantasy series, has been handing over the title to different composers. First, Uematsu teamed up with Masashi Hamauzu and Junya Nakano for Final Fantasy X. He teamed up with Naoshi Mizuta and Kumi Tanioka for Final Fantasy XI. Noriko Matsueda and Takahito Eguchi took hold of FFX-2 on their own. Now, the expansion for FF XI, “Rise of the Zilart”, has new music composed solely by Naoshi Mizuta. How does it fare?
I hadn’t heard any of Naoshi Mizuta’s work up to this point (I hadn’t heard the FF XI OST), and I wasn’t expecting much; I certainly wasn’t expecting what I consider to be the “Final Fantasy” sound. I was definitely taken aback, however, when I first stuck this soundtrack in my CD player. What I expected to be trite and boring turned out to be somewhat entertaining, and certainly more-than-suitable during gameplay.
The “town” and “overworld” songs use a lot of instruments associated with the “ethnic/world” music genre (various flutes, plucked string instruments, marimbas, etc.). The battle themes are catchy, some of the best battle music I’ve heard for a next-gen RPG. The new Chocobo arrangement is stellar, replacing some key notes in the melody (the mixolydian mode has been cut for a more “natural” and less “jazzy” sound). Musically, it’s all good. The synths used sound natural, and are all I had hoped would come from the recent FF titles.
The length of each track is…well…long. Each track is looped through once, but each composition in itself is also considerably lengthy, which is good. We’re not talking about little one-minute melodies here. These are all well-developed compositions. In this regard, I am once again pleased.
What we have here is a solid OST to what I’m told is a fairly solid game (or expansion to a game at that). As of the writing of this review, the soundtrack is widely available and sells for a fairly low price (its Japanese retail is 2000 yen, a little less than $20). If you’ve been keeping up on your Final Fantasy soundtrack collection, do NOT miss this one. It’s pretty good, though Uematsu had nothing to do with it.