It is interesting to see videogames soundtracks arresting the attention of both film music fans and video games fans. Michael Giacchino, whose notable scores for the Medal of Honor videogame series has paved the way and incidentally created new career potential for composers other than the basic television and cinema outlets. Close on the Medal of Honor’s heels is BAFTA Award-Winning Composer Jesper Kyd (“Hitman: Contracts”, “Freedom Fighters”, “ Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory”) whose acclaimed scores to the smash hit videogames Hitman: Codename 47 & Hitman 2: Silent Assassin are regarded as some of the best music ever recorded for the genre. These scores deliver all the Hollywood blockbuster-style thrills.
The Hitman: Codename 47 score is presented here in its first official CD release and the re-mastered Hitman 2 is expertly performed by 110 piece Budapest Symphony Orchestra and The Hungarian Radio Choir. It’s a must for all videogame and film music fans.
The first disc, which showcases Hitman: Codeman 47, is more in the vein of electronic-based rhythms, blending both Euro-techno sound and orchestral strings. Various themes for 'Hong Kong', ‘Hospital’ and ‘Harbour’ are represented as lengthy suites. There is also the inclusion of bonus 'demo' cues and an alternate slower version of the "Main Title" theme.
The first disc also contains 3 bonus tracks; two of the best tracks of music from the original "Hitman - Codename 47" game (which are otherwise not available outside the game), and one brand new unreleased music track from Jesper Kyd, produced in his studio in New York.
While Hitman 2: Silent Assassin is as different from the first original Hitman as night from day, I found the music of the second disc more engaging and exciting. The music is a fully fledged orchestral with a choir adding a more epic depth. The composer wanted to give the game a more cinematic, heroic atmosphere while at the same time reflecting the ambience of the countries Mr. 47 visits around the world. There is a healthy infusion of Russian, Indian, Japanese and Middle Eastern music styles (their native scales are respectively acknowledged) with percussion conjuring the musical exotica of these varied locations. Ethnic vocals add further atmosphere especially in the bonus track " Dreams of Istanbul". Among the most notable tracks are "Desert Sun" and "Japanese Snow Castle"; both are very cinematic.
The music swings from ethnic, to percussive action set pieces, to bold thematic statements in their full orchestral exuberance, which is even rarer for most Hollywood films. It’s quite a revelation that the level of scoring in video games has reached such epic proportions.
The sound recording is spacious but then it is closely designed to reflect its use in the medium of computer games. This 2-CD set comes with a colour booklet showcasing the notes from the composer and graphics from the game. Recommended for the game fans and the casual listeners as well.