Jukebox Heroes: The best of SWTOR expansion soundtracks
Sure, it did the job, hit some of those familiar Star Wars notes, and slathered the myriad of game worlds in music, but I found it either too weird (the cantina tunes, mostly) or too long and bombastic to enjoy. Wasn’t the worst I’d ever heard, but certainly not near what I would expect from a game bearing the Star Wars moniker.
Yet while I wasn’t looking, BioWare has produced some incredible musical chops for the past two expansions. My mouth was often agape when I was listening to Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne, because I kept thinking, “What is this! What is this! This is the soundtrack this game deserved all along!” It was quite the pleasant surprise, let me just say, and today I’m going to share some of my favorite pieces from these recent expansions with you.
Upon reflection, my general happiness with these soundtracks is that they nail that Star Wars movie tone in a much better way than some of the previous scores. The Alliance is a wonderful example of this, recalling some of the happier moments of the original trilogy while throwing in a nod to the Star Wars main theme itself. It’s a happy, uplifting cue that only happens to end on a slightly uncertain note.
“Escape from Zakuul”
Making an obvious homage to Return of the Jedi’s “Attacking the Death Star,” this track cranks up the tension and action right from the start. It’s a thrilling minute of music that both nods at John Williams’ score while diverging enough to put its own spin on a nailbiting sequence.
OK, maybe I am a tremendous sucker for a rip-roaring action piece (no matter how short), but I found myself quite partial to this track as well. It’s more uncertain than “Escape from Zakuul” while still being its own brand of exciting. It crashes right to a halt, leaving the listener wanting more (repeat, repeat!).
“Lana, The Advisor (Love Theme)”
I am going to put aside my vitriol for Lana here to point out that, namesake or no, this love theme is tremendously wonderful. It’s warm and sweeping while hinting at one of those tragic backstories that Star Wars loves so much. I like the ending, which transitions into a moment of uncertainy and mystery.
“The Eternal Alliance”
A softer and more, er, soap opera-y track, “The Eternal Alliance” tries its utmost to tap into the magical, nostalgic feels that many of us have when thinking back to when we first fell in love with this universe. I think it’s a little hit and miss — but definitely more hit.
“Aries the Mischievous”
As the name implies, this is one of Star Wars’ more rare entries into the goofy, silly, and comical moments. It’s quiet and cartoonish, reminding me so much of the Ewok scenes from Jedi. I appreciate it for the tonal shift from many of the other action- and drama-saturated cues and also because it reminded me of how Williams would occasionally dip into this brand of music for his movies’ light-hearted bits.