Composed by
Winifred Phillips

 

Published by
Ubisoft Music (2012)

 

Tracklistings
1) Liberation Main Theme
2) Stealth
3) Virtual Pursuit
4) The Docks
5) Abstergo Ops
6) Secrets of the Bayou
7) Poverty
8) Aveline's Escape
9) Society Suite in 4 Movements
10) Ride to Oblivion
11) Mayan Labyrinth
12) Chasing Freedom
13) The Hunt
14) Bayou Fortress
15) Safe Harbor
16) Shanty Town
17) Deliverance
18) Winter in the North
19) The Cathedral Grounds
20) Animus
21) In the Bayou
22) Mayan Ruins
23) River of the Mayans
24) Agate's Power
25) In the Service of Humanity
26) Virtual Reality Room

 

Availability
- Amazon.com
- iTunes store

 

Extras
- Game website
- Interview

 

Review by
Oliver Ittensohn


Assassin's Creed: Liberation

Sales for Sony’s latest handheld console – the Playstation Vita – are dragging. Fighting a near hopeless battle against iOS and Android powered devices, it is shifting its attention to big-budget game-exclusives to showcase its immense hardware power and varied touch-screen functionality and controls. One such game is Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, a spin-off title of Ubisoft’s highly successful game franchise for PC, Xbox360 and PS3.

Unlike other popular video game series like Halo, Final Fantasy or Medal of Honor, the Assassin’s Creed franchise never really relied on its musical score for its success. That is not to say that the titles featured underachieving music, quite the opposite is probably true. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations serves as a case in point and the so-called Ezio-family-theme remains a fan favourite. Still, the series lacks a coherent musical voice. For a composer coming new to the franchise, this provides a good opportunity to turn the absence of a clear musical heritage into a creative play-room for almost any kind of thematic and stylistic ideas imaginable; all without the danger of breaking with the previous scores. With Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, composer Winifred Phillips, who had never worked on the series before, managed to achieve exactly such a fresh start, bringing a host of new ideas and proven compositional skills to the table in order to contribute her own unique voice to the series.

Overall, Phillip’s score to AC: Liberation can be divided into two different stylistic parts or segments. The first thematic shade of the score is represented by the material written for the games’ protagonist, Aveline, and her fight for America’s freedom from Spanish occupation. Aveline’s French-African heritage and her relentless battle against the colonial invaders in eighteenth-century America is underscored by a variety of log-based percussions and ambient tribal chants and voices. Luckily, these elements are sparsely used and not overdone. Instead, the composer manages to employ these compositional devices as an engaging way of enhancing the ambient and action tracks with exciting ethnical musical colors. The action and ambient tracks themselves are mostly based on fast-paced string ostinatos and reverbing synthesized effects to give the score a decidedly modern edge. They are reminiscent of a ‘Thriller’-score and are clearly focused on underscoring the stealth-missions and action sequences in the game with forceful precision and tempo. It is a score of perpetual movement. The thematic material in this section takes the back seat. Even though the score’s main theme for Liberation is introduced early on, it flows through the work rather unnoticeably. It does, however, make a welcome appearance here and there.

Secondly, the album features source music inspired by the game’s historical setting. However, these Baroque compositions figure not only as a creative afterthought, but present a vital and coherent part of the score. Indeed, the long Baroque cue “Society Suite in 4 Movements” is among the album’s highlights and showcases Phillip’s feel for eighteenth-century compositional styles. Furthermore, the lovely orchestral pieces break the ambient underscore from time to time and bring musical variety to the listening experience and to an album that has turned out to be rather longwinded.

All in all, the score to Assassin’s Creed: Liberation is a fine effort in every respect and one that deserves the attention of game music enthusiasts. And even though the score might easily be overlooked, since it accompanies a rather precarious Assassin’s Creed spin-off game, it enriches the musical landscape of the series in an exciting and enjoyable way: it is highly recommended to fans of the franchise.