Review Summary: Rockstar really know good music.
Game soundtracks have come along way, evolving just as quickly as the industry itself has. Big shot names like Hans Zimmer and Harry Gregson-Williams have had their hand on game scores in the past and it’s proof that the industry is really aiming for the Hollywood touch. Max Payne is a game that doesn’t hide its film noir, martial arts or Matrix style influences. If there was ever a game that needed the “Hollywood” sountrack it’s Max Payne.
Kartsy hatakka & Kimmo Kajasto did a truly stella job of making a gritty, atmospheric soundtrack that really complemented the mood for the first two Max Payne games. It really gave you that emotional connection with Max, but also gave you an adrenaline boost when it was needed, and to say they left a very large shoe to fill would be an understatement.
Max Payne 3 takes everything fans know and love about the first two games and flip it on its head; gone are the dark, cold rainy/snowy nights and trench coats. In with bright, hot sun and tropical t-shirts. The direction Rockstar were going with Max Payne 3 required a drastic change in composition, and they found it in LA Noise Rock band “Health”.
What Max Payne requires more than anything else is a dark score that really brings the player in on Max’s pains and emotions, and not only do Health deliver on this count, but actually set new standards. 27 tracks of harrowing, moody and dramatic synths, backed with pounding drums. Songs that have guitars multi-layered with effects that really pull on the heart strings. “Torture” really showcases a thick and depressing mood that drags you in.
It isn’t just the depressing side they know how to pull off either, the album is varied in alot of different styles. They kill the 80’s vibe with songs like “Max:Panama” and “Tears”. The epic feel of “Future” gets the adrenaline pumping when you’re gunning people down. There is even fun upbeat songs like “Severin” which has some fist-pumpingly fast drums while the guitar shreds along.
If you wanted to nitpick, there is a couple of tracks that drag on a little bit or become a little repetative, but given the origins and purpose of a game soundtrack it is to be expected.
It takes a lot for a soundtrack to truly steal the show, but HEALTH manage it very well, I haven’t come across a soundtrack to do this since Michael McCann’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution soundtrack, which is saying something because it is a superb game to play. Health also managed to stear clear of how most modern contemporaries go about making a game score, largely due to sticking to the bands core sound. It’s just a thoroughly enjoyable experience and is amazing to hear while the game tells its story. However, this is definitely an album that can be enjoyed on its own.