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Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Soundtrack Review

Posted on Wednesday, December 11 @ 12:28:23 PST by Keri_Honea
Ubisoft Music actually released three different soundtracks for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag—the original score by Brian Tyler, the Sea Shanty soundtrack, and a combination of the two. I purchased the combo, because all I could see was MOAR TRACKS. I should have done my research first. If I had, I would have saved about $9 and only purchased Brian Tyler's original score. These two compilations of music could not be more different.

The Brian Tyler half is exactly what you would expect from a video game soundtrack. It consists of a full orchestra with heavy, heavy emphasis on the string section. The Assassin's Creed games (save for Liberation) have always had a strong focus on the strings, especially the violins, and the OST to ACIV is no exception. The violins have this uncanny ability to make you feel as if you are sailing on the high seas, hanging out at a pirate dive, watching a swashbuckling battle, or feeling the melancholy tunes of a buccaneer when it's not all drinking, looting, and stabbing.

The biggest complaint that I have about this first half is that it all runs together after a bit. The tunes, while great, do not sound all that different from one another. It's not until you reach the Sea Shanty half that you realize a track has changed.

The Sea Shanty portion has a split-personality all on its own, comprising of half pirate songs and half environmental tunes. When I say pirate songs, I literally mean pirate songs. These are acapella songs sung by a boisterous man or woman that I could easily picture a band of pirates singing while doing menial chores. I can also envision them being sung at a bar after a rugby game. The voices are incredible, don't get me wrong, but these songs aren't something one would normally just listen to as part of their musical repertoire. They have a definite purpose, and after listening to them once or twice, I really have no interest in hearing them again unless I plan on singing at a bar.

Then the album completely switches gears again to what I assume must be background music for game environments. These are all composed by Joe Henson and Alexis Smith, featuring acoustic guitar, various percussion, and woodwinds typically heard in Scottish and Irish music. As environmental music, it's very short since it's made to repeat ad infinitum while a player is in a particular area. I enjoyed these pieces, but not enough to warrant purchasing the entire Sea Shanty soundtrack.

I definitely do not recommend buying the full compilation for Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and I have a hard time recommending even just the original score by Brian Tyler. I greatly enjoyed the scores to Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood, and Liberation, but there's really nothing in here that separates Black Flag from the OST herd like its predecessors. Unless you just love the music from the video game that you've already played, save your money and let this one pass for now.
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