Composer: Alex Otterlei
A.O. Music
Available now

Drake is a star fighter pilot escorting an execution craft on a dangerous mission. The witch Aguira, destroyer of worlds and civilisations, has been condemned by the Judges of Mardar. Her punishment is death by disintegration - she'll be dumped into a black hole. On route an asteroid containing Xyanide, a substance that materialises thoughts, hits the execution craft. Hostile worlds immediately form between the two ships, and Drake realises Xyanide gives Aguira the perfect chance to escape. Alone and under attack, you must battle through a series of surreal nightmares. Survival depends on how well you fly and how quickly you kill. Your fighter is legendary for its ability to adapt to wildly different environments - organic or mechanical - but a relentless enemy means technology doesn't count for everything...

Okay, while this is not supposed to be a review of the impending release of the Xyanide Xbox game, I thought it important to give an overall view on whether the music compliments the game. That's difficult to do - as the game is not due out until June 2006. However, this disc comes with a few extras that allow you to view what the finished game will look like. These include a teaser trailer, original trailer, credits (for some strange reason) and in-game footage. Also included are links to a few relevant websites.

To be honest, from this brief peek at the world of Xyanide, I'd have to say that Otterlei's music is just too good for such a poor looking game (a bit like asking John Williams to score the music for a Teletubbies episode). While the storyline and CGI cut sequences are nothing to get excited about, this is the first in-game sequence I've watched where I instantly decided I wouldn't be parting with my money. It doesn't help that the trailer states that the game should have been available from Q1 2004. Hmmm. It's actually not being release until June 2006 - that's a serious delay by any standards.

While the soundtrack is not necessarily something I would sit and listen to on it's own, I can honestly say that it is certainly a great complimentary score to game playing. I would recommend putting it on in the background while playing a console games. It seems best suited to any FPS in your collection. It'll certainly get your adrenaline levels up. From that point of view, this is a fantastic soundtrack. It sounds futuristic enough that it could be used in a movie like The Matrix, but it's not as mindlessly dull as a lot of music in the same vein tends to be.

Otterlei's score is about as far removed from his work on Horror on the Orient Express as you can get - proving that not only is he a versatile composer, but that he does his background research before starting his work. While, as a stand alone album, I prefer his work on Horror on the Orient Express, Xyanide is aimed at a whole different market and what we are presented with does the job without being too intrusive.

As I said earlier, I probably wouldn't sit and listen to this to relax, but it does make excellent background music when you are playing a challenging FPS.

Nick Smithson