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Soundtrack Review

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BioShock: Infinite (Original Game Soundtrack)


Composer: Garry Schyman
2K Games
Comes with the 'Ultimate Songbird' or 'Premium Edition' of the game
Release Date: 26 March 2013

Soundtracks of games have the same struggles as movie scores, much of the music consists of pieces created to enhance an event, which the listener cannot see, or character themes, which make little sense when removed from the original media.

The BioShock: Infinite soundtrack (2013 - 46 min) opens, not with music but with an 'Introduction' (28 sec) which in isolation introduces nothing. Fans of the game, and I count myself amongst this number, will remember the opening speech, so I suppose that its included to set the scene, like the odd snippets which are often found on theatre and film scores. Apart from the reoccurring song, the score was mostly composed by Garry Schyman.

'Welcome to Columbia' (1 min, 01 sec) introduces one of the games reoccurring themes, a plaintive old time piano, before segueing into ‘Will the Circle be Unbroken (2 min, 56 sec). This is not an original song though it does date to around the same era where the game is set. Fans of bluegrass/gospel music will recognise it instantly as it has become a standard.

The song appears three times. The first is a full choral rendition. The second is an in-game snippet (40 sec), when the two main characters perform and finally it is performed again in full (4 min, 43 sec) by the vocal actress who plays Elizabeth in the game.

It’s fair to say that a lot of the twenty-eight tracks are around one and a half minutes long, some less so, and designed to highlight aspects of the game. Placed against the game's visuals the music makes perfect sense, in isolation, many of the tracks remain shards of sounds, the majority either consisting of strident percussive pieces as in the various 'Battle for Columbia' tracks or more melancholic mood music.

There is the occasion full piece of music, including 'Rory O More Saddle the Pony' (2 min, 39 sec) a rather jolly jig and 'Lutece' (2 min, 45 sec) which starts as a hesitant piece before settling into a slower, more ominous sound. Most of the tracks rely on the string section to either produce discordant sawing, for action sequences or languid bowing for the mood music.

There are a half a dozen pieces which you might keep on your MP3 player, due to their length and completeness and a lot of short pieces that you’ll probably only listen to once. Apart from the long version of 'Will the Circle be Unbroken', my vote for the best track is the melodically beautiful 'Elizabeth' (2 min, 02 sec).

As an example of a soundtrack album, it is what it is. Never pretending to be an album of complete tracks it is nonetheless a worthy addition to any fan's collection.


Charles Packer