When I’m writing, I put on music. When I’m playing RPGs, I put on music. I don’t know anything about music, really, but here’s something I’m listening to.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception was my first Uncharted game but I grabbed the soundtrack to Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune — the first game — right away. I picked it up because, as a fan of Indiana Jones and adventure scores and Greg Edmonson’s work on Firefly, I was curious what this new franchise was doing with its music.
Drake’s Fortune felt nicely atmospheric, good for putting on while I was writing. It didn’t have the long melodic passages that Michael Giacchino’s Medal of Honor soundtracks had, for example, and the tracks were shortish, so I didn’t use Drake’s Fortune much during RPG play. As a result, I ended up skipping the Uncharted 2: Among Thieves soundtrack at first.
I started playing Uncharted 3 when I first got my PS3, waded in a ways, dug the ever-loving heck out of it, then backpedaled to play the first two games in the series before finishing the third. I wanted to better understand the context of Drake’s Deception. I sensed this outing was a little more personal for Nathan Drake, like it was the series’ Last Crusade, and I wanted to know more about the characters as I pressed on. I think I suspended play somewhere in the chateau, if you’re wondering.
Uncharted 3 is the strongest of the three scores, to my mind, but it also gave me a renewed appreciation for everything Greg Edmonson was doing thematically and texturally in the first two games. Uncharted 3 has all that texture intermixed with more great melodic themes and motifs. With a variety of instrumentation, compelling percussion, and great use of voice, it evokes a variety of places and a lot of atmosphere. It is, at turns, adventurous, surreal, tense, and romantic.
Guitars and strings combine with a flute to create charming intrigue in “Small Beginnings” and “Second-Story Work.” Azam Ali creates a wonderful sound, both textured and exciting, in tracks like “Mind Games” and “The Caravan.” Meanwhile, Clint Bajakian (who worked on LucasArts games of yore) offers romantic interpretations of the game’s themes in “The Rub’ Al Kali” and “The Empty Quarter.” The album’s sweeping desert-adventure theme (spotlighted on tracks like “Atlantis of the Sands” and “Badlands”) feels like it’s paying homage to Lawrence of Arabia — which seems fitting, since Lawrence himself plays a part in the story of Drake’s Deception. I still find myself humming that one around the house.
I haven’t used this soundtrack much during actual play (though I will), so I can’t recommend more specific tracks for that, yet. I’ve written a whole lot of words while this album plays through my headphones, though.
I picked up the two-disc album of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception direct from La-La Land Records. Recommended.