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With blockbuster releases including Assassin's Creed, Final Fantasy and indie ventures like Project Phoenix to look forward to, 2014 looks like a great year for video game soundtracks. Oh yeah, and Paul McCartney's written one.
This could be the biggest coup the video game music industry has ever seen - none other than former Beatle turned classical composer, pop wizard and general renaissance man Paul McCartney has signed on to contribute music to Destiny, alongside Marty O'Donnell. Far from being a phoned-in contribution from McCartney, he told O'Donnell, "I want to collaborate! Some of my melodies, and some of your spooky bits is going to be great! It's going to be our music." Which is a pretty good thing to hear from Paul McCartney, given the calibre of his previous writing partners.
Much has already been made about the special 'have a go at conducting' feature of this interactive game version of Disney's Fantasia. And, true to the developer's word, it looks like we're going to have the chance to conduct the first movement of Winter from Vivaldi's Four Seasons, as well as Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky. How realistic and responsive it proves to be remains to be seen, but we're very interested.
Due in late February, this reboot of the original Thief game will also feature a soundtrack from Luc St. Pierre and the Filmharmonic Orchestra Prague. And this time, you can get hold of the whole soundtrack if you download the game's accompanying app.
True, there's another Assassin's Creed release due in January with the HD version of Liberation, but that's old news. We're interested to see exactly what French composer Olivier Deriviere will do with the music of the series, which has veered from historical epic-inspired orchestral music to full-on pirate themes in recent years. For this add-on pack of solo missions, Deriviere has got quite an act to follow in the shape of Brian Tyler, who composed the music from the series' preceding game, Black Flag.
Peter McConnell is a long-time collaborator with Broken Age's Tim Schafer (they go all the way back to the LucasArts classic Monkey Island), and his work here will no doubt be hotly anticipated, whatever form it may take. Despite a classical training, McConnell remains an eclectic composer, so expect something quite different.
Due in March, yet another entry in the long-running MGS series - this time set in 1975. Harry Gregson-Williams' profile has steadily risen over the last ten years or so as he's taken on more Hollywood work, so it's only natural that he now shares the composing duties for MGS with two others. What their contributions will be remains to be seen, but Gregson-Williams' main theme had better be featuring heavily…
Due in early February, this is an HD remake of the original Fable game, this time for Xbox 360. But the main draw for us? That superb theme by the great Danny Elfman, and the rest of the score by Russell Shaw.
The sequel to the original Lords of Shadow (well received in 2010) will be scored by Òscar Araujo once again, and his experience with the first and its bold orchestral score (in contrast to previous entries in the Castlevania series) should make for an interesting listen.
Once again, the indie gaming community has come up with a left field gem to look out for in the shape of Everybody's Gone To The Rapture, which will feature a score from British composer Jessica Curry. Curry is also the co-director of the studio that's producing the whole game, The Chinese Room, so she'll have a lot riding on this soundtrack.
The legend that is Nobuo Uematsu is the much-talked-about composer of the crowd-funded Project Phoenix Game. It's the first time he's ever worked on an independently released game project, so it will be interesting to see what he comes up with away from the strictures of the traditional gaming industry. So far, all we've heard from the game are snippets composed by Kevin Penkin and Tomoki Miyoshi (whose Elven Glades sounds like a cousin of Karl Jenkins' Adiemus), who are also working on the project, but the real test will be when Uematsu gets involved.
While Nobuo Uemastu busies himself with the forthcoming release of indie game Project Phoenix, the Final Fantasy Series that made his name continues to rumble on. And with that stylistic base provided by Uematsu, the series looks to be in safe hands with the trio of Masashi Hamauzu, Naoshi Mizuta and Mitsuto Suzuki on board.
The first video game composer to ever garner a Grammy Award nomination, Austin Wintory will be looking to impress once again with his dense, brass-heavy score for The Banner Saga, another game that has benefited from an online Kickstarter campaign to gain funding. Snippets, recorded by Wintory and the Dallas Wind Symphony, are available to hear online if you can't wait for the whole thing.