Saturday, January 14, 2012

Soundtrack Suggestion: The Devil's Advocate - James Newton Howard

The Devil's Advocate
Composed by James Newton Howard

"Vanity is definitely my favorite sin."

With an opening quote that powerful, one would need a score so compelling that it can capture the grandeur of New York City, the seductiveness of beauty, the ominous presence of a danger lurking in the shadows and the gentle innocence of hope still being present.  James Newton Howard succeeds in all these in the soundtrack for the movie, "The Devil's Advocate."

With 26 tracks in the album, the musical pieces stand in nice contrast against the more disturbing pieces that build up to a threatening peak.  Adding a touch of variety is the single track that stands out and gives a light-hearted feel to the album: the elevator music piece on track 05 called "Rendezvous."  But definitely this album deserves to be part of any gaming library that sets scenes in New York City.  Tracks such as "New York" (track 03), "Milton" (track 04), and "Apartment Building" (track 08) very beautifully capture the atmosphere of being in a massively impressive and intimidating city.  Check out the samples available in Amazon here.

Then you have tracks like "Baby" (track 12), "Suicide" (track 16), and "Baka" (track 18) which definitely throw a horror curtain over one's game.  ("Baby " gets special credit for having a crying baby as part of the background music!)  Nicely, the soundtrack also has "Air on the G String" (track 20) which has a catherdral electronic organ feel which can be invaluable in games where the Player Characters might consider contacting the church for assistance.    And of course, there's "Fire" (track 23) which is perfect for a climactic conclusion and "Ring" (track 24) which is a wonderful closing song to cap a game session in a positive or somber note with its soft piano keys.

Just be warned that the soundtrack has audio tracks from the movie itself.  "Vanity - Dialog" (track 01) opens the soundtrack with the movie's powerful quote and in the end of the disc are two more dialog tracks called "Surprise - Dialog" (track 25) and "Finale - Dialog" (track 26).  While they are very lovely pieces of dialog with Al Pacino playing the most convincingly evil and logical Satan, they might end up disrupting a game if his recognizable voice suddenly pops out of your speakers mid-game.

The Devil's Advocate track suggestions
WTF moment: Geddes/Weaver (track 11), Baby (track 12), Suicide (track 16), Fire (track 23)
Introspective/calm moment: Main Theme (track 02), New York (track 03)
Tense/mystery moment: Milton (track 04), Lovemaking (track 06), Christabella (track 07), Apartment Building (track 08),
Combat music: Barzoon (track 09),
Hopeful moment: Rendezvous (track 05), Finish the Story (track 13), Baka (track 18), 57th Street (track 19), Church (track 21), Ring (track 24)
Drama/sad moment: Montage (track 10), Time (track 14), Can't Have Children (track 17), Air on G String (track 20), I Rest My Case (track 22)

Best Used In: Any game that features grand cities or massive structures.  While it may be impossible to incorporate tracks like "Rendezvous" in a game set during the medieval period, other tracks can still be used to enhance scenes set in the shadows of an ancient city.  Just be mindful again of the shifts in the tracks when tension rises and falls.

I've beautifully used this soundtrack for everything from a zombie uprising game, to a game about fallen angels, as well as a game about ghosts that are actually people who can use powers to be like the dead.  Very versatile, so long as you want a dark game.

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