Monday, September 05, 2016

Soundtrack September: Killer Instinct

Game: Killer Instinct (2013) – Seasons 1 and 2
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Composer: Mick Gordon

Mick Gordon took what thematic material he could from the Killer Instinct and Killer Instinct 2, and then applied masterful arrangement and production technique to create the super-high-impact soundtrack to the 2013 reboot of the series. This, together with his work on the reboot of Doom, has cemented Gordon’s reputation as a composer of hard-hitting, tough-as-nails game music.

It should be noted that Gordon’s availability to score Doom was contingent on Iron Galaxy releasing him from Killer Instinct duty between Seasons 2 and 3. I don’t like that Mick Gordon stopped scoring KI, but I’m glad he didn’t have to struggle to find his next job.

KI’s soundtrack capitalizes on Gordon’s hard-nosed production style with memorable music for every stage in the game. What’s more, every theme is dynamic, reacting to the flow of the fight. There’s even a timed accompaniment to every character’s ultra combo, each strike in the combo string triggering a musical stab in the score. The game’s attitude, thanks in large part to its music, puts a badass veneer on what’s also a fundamentally solid fighting game.

The strongest tracks include TJ Combo’s motivational hiphop theme “I’m Back (To Rise!),” Orchid’s gleefully angry pop anthem “Touch Me and I’ll Break Your Face,” and “Hinnamatoom” (Chief Thunder’s theme), which kind of sounds like music for a beer commercial BUT WHO CARES. My favorite is the music for Maya’s stage: a cathartic rendition of her theme from KI2 with excellent vocals by Ali Edwards.

(Unfortunately, the version of Maya’s theme that appears on the commercial release of the soundtrack is produced differently from what appears in the game, and is inferior in my opinion. This edit I made using audio from the game paints a better picture of what’s heard in the game.)

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