Latest reviews of new albums:
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • Composed by Brian Tyler
  • Activision / 2011 / 78:38

The pesky Russians are the enemy again in Modern Warfare 3, the latest instalment in the very popular video game series.  It’s so popular, in fact, that it became the fastest piece of entertainment to hit the $1bn sales barrier, beating James Cameron’s Avatar.The previous entry in the series received a very poor score by “Hans Zimmer and” Lorne Balfe, dominated by electronics.  This time round, the producers turned to another Hollywood music heavyweight, Brian Tyler.  Tyler has written a huge amount of very exciting action music in his film scores – his style, which has a very modern sound despite being fundamentally orchestrally-based, lends itself naturally to this type of game and, listening to the album, there is little if anything here which sets this apart from his film music.

While everything on show sounds pretty familiar – the composer seemingly content to use his tried-and-tested methods rather than coming up with anything particularly new – rarely has Tyler written music so consistently exciting.  The album is very long but the action simply never lets up – there is a parade of one exciting set-piece after another.  Unlike on a film, there aren’t any little introspective moments to break up the barrage of action, and perhaps the album could do with one or two, but this is genuinely high-quality action music and I’d go as far as to say it’s more continuously impressive than most of the composer’s action scores for film.  Take a listen to “I Stand Alone” – a brilliant, full-throttle thrill ride which must rank as one of the highlights of Tyler’s career.  And there are a dozen or so other pieces on the album which aren’t far behind.  The closest it comes to allowing the listener a bit of a breather is in the occasional piece of more dramatic music for non-action cut-scenes in the game (like the enjoyably Slavic “Russian Deliberations”).  Tyler keeps things interesting and adds more flavour thanks to the ethnic touches he adds here and there, reflecting the globe-trotting nature of the game.  It’s all completely unsubtle stuff, of course, but ridiculously enjoyable and I think one of the most pleasant musical surprises of 2011.  **** |

Tags: ,

  1. zahnmimres (Reply) on Saturday 28 January, 2012 at 12:30

    For me, Hans Zimmer & Lorne Balfe’ score for the second MW is not poor at all. It’s massively rich in term of the action and a few military drama that electronics can serve their best. However, it’s true that Brian Tyler’s score is better, more epic, and eventually the finest of MW trilogy. Also, I agree with your praise to the score as ‘ridiculously enjoyable’ because there aren’t many Tyler’s adrenaline-pump scores can deliver such a consistent joy for almost 80 minutes like this. I wish Activision would do a physical CD release like Sumthing Distribution (sadly, it’s not gonna happen).

  2. Krishna Manohar (Reply) on Monday 6 February, 2012 at 04:38

    Thank you, James for finally reviewing this score. I am glad you like it as well as I think it some of Brian’s best work in quite sometime. Peace. 🙂

  3. Martin (Reply) on Sunday 17 June, 2012 at 08:09

    Just wanted to say that although Brian Tyler’s is a great score for a video game, this in no way beats Hans Zimmer’s and Lorne Balfe’s soundtrack to Modern Warfare 2. I was in fact surprised not to find a review of the previous game on this site.