In the last few years Yasunori Mitsuda has established himself as one of the top videogame music composers in the industry. He is now being mentioned with the likes of Nobuo Uematsu, Koichi Sugiyama, and Noriyuki Iwadare as a legend in his field thanks mostly to his work on high profile soundtracks such as Xenogears and Chrono Cross. His latest work comes courtesy of Xenogears’ “sequel/prequel” from Namco, the much anticipated Xenosaga. Is Mitsuda’s latest effort just as good as his previous work or is it a step down from his previous compositions? Read on to find out.
Let me first comment on Mitsuda’s previous works a comparisons. Personally, I didn’t think Tsugunai’s soundtrack was that good. It wasn’t bad but in my opinion it wasn’t Mitsuda at his best. Because of that I was a bit concerned before listening to the Xenosaga soundtrack. I thought that maybe Mitsuda’s work would start to go down in quality like Uematsu’s work has been going down in quality in the last couple years (in my opinion). I hoped that wouldn’t be the case here.
My favorite Mitsuda soundtrack would have to be Xenogears. Some people seem to have preferred the Chrono Cross soundtrack, but I personally favored Xenogears. But, maybe that’s just because I have played the game and have the “nostalgia” factor. I have not played Chrono Cross, so maybe the music does not have the same effect on me for that reason. I thought that Chrono Cross had a larger amount of “filler” tracks that didn’t have the same quality as the rest of the best tracks. Then again, that could be normal given the amount of tracks in Chrono Cross compared to Xenogears. Xenogears also had a few tracks that were only average, but for the most part, Xenogears’ soundtrack was great and fit the game very well. It still ranks in my book as one of the best soundtrack for an RPG.
So, does the Xenosaga soundtrack live up to the hype and the prestige of Mitsuda’s previous work? I’m glad to say that it does. I have not played the game yet so this review is based solely on the music itself and I’m sure the enjoyment would be even higher if I had actually played the game.
The one thing that surprised me the most from the Xenosaga soundtrack is that out of the 45 tracks I can’t really find one that I didn’t think was good. That’s a pretty impressive feat. I can’t say that for any other OST’s that I’ve heard before. Most games have at least a few tracks that aren’t impressive or get on your nerves or something, but I personally can’t find anything like that on the Xenosaga OST.
The other impressive aspect is the sound quality and the instrumentation of the soundtrack. You won’t find any midi or chip-generated music on this soundtrack. It seems like everything is done by an orchestra or with real instruments like guitar, piano, violin, etc. The songs that aren’t done by a full orchestra still sound close to being done by a full orchestra, and I think they sound better than most Xenogears or Chrono Cross songs (in terms of instrumentation, I’m not talking about composition here).
I would say that this soundtrack sounds more like a movie soundtrack than an RPG soundtrack. That can either be a good or a bad thing depending on your taste. When you listen to Xenogears or Chrono Cross music, you can easily tell that it’s from a videogame, even though the quality is very high; it still sounds like music from a game (not that it’s a bad thing). Xenosaga has a more “epic” soundtrack that has more in common with an action movie score, or soundtrack from a game like Metal Gear Solid, than a normal classic RPG OST. Some people might be disappointed by the fact that there aren’t many “mellow” songs on this soundtrack. I had a hard time trying to find any village or “atmosphere” music as most of it is fast paced and very epic in style. You won’t find many (if any) happy, light-hearted songs on this soundtrack.
What this soundtrack is, however, is a fast, furious, epic, emotional soundtrack that sometimes feels like a movie score. The second disc does contain a few more mellow tracks, but they are more like “sad piano songs” than beautiful melodies; you won’t find any love songs in there. This isn’t that kind of game. However, this is a soundtrack that I definitely recommend as it has beautiful orchestration, great composition, and a great overall feel. Mitsuda is really cementing himself as the premiere videogame composer of the last few years with this soundtrack, and I can’t wait to hear some more of his work. I definitely can’t wait to play this game after listening to the soundtrack.
Reviewed by: Eric Farand