Michael Giacchino returns with an entertaining score for the video game Medal of Honor: Underground, the sequel to the successful Medal of Honor, both first person point of view action games taking place during the second World War. The score for the first game was also composed by the then quite unknown Giacchino, whos name, thanks to the popularity and success of that very score, soon was to be found in the subject lines in many film music forums, newsgroups and mailing lists. His music for Medal of Honor was praised by both critics and fans, and people just couldn't believe that a composer that talented "only" wrote music for video games. Big budget games, sure... but there had to be a large film for him to score, waiting around the corner!?
Unfortunatly, this has yet to happen, but in the meantime, the composer scored Medal of Honor: Underground, and once again, thanks to DreamWorks, a soundtrack has been released, with a playing time of over 65 minutes. Yummy.
Before I continue, I just have to say this: I love scores that entertain me. As long as it's playful, lively, melodic and lyrical, you can be sure that I'm enjoying it. And you know what? Medal of Honor: Underground is playful, lively, melodic and lyrical and I just love it! And track nine, "Labyrinth of the Minotaur", might just be one of the best action cues I have heard in a very long time. The secret? Low, bouncy strings, strong brass, lively woodwinds and percussion. Ethnic influences. And a great theme, or motif, repeated througout the entire cue.
While the first score was heavily influenced by John Williams' adventure and action music of the 80's, such as the composers' scores for the Indiana Jones films, the sequel score seems to rely more on Giacchino's own style.
The orchestra - once again The Northwest Sinfonia - seems to be of normal size, so there's nothing special about that, really. But the addition of a small boys choir - about 25 kids, according to the liner notes - gives this score that special epic, adventurous and grand sound. Add to this some French influences, such as the use of an accordian in a couple of cues, and you've got a score that is at least as good as its predecessor. If not better.