Review Summary: Three different flavours, when I just wanted one.
Like the game itself, Michael McCann’s score to Mankind Divided has a lot of potential to be something amazing, but for many silly mistakes ultimately falls short of being anywhere near the same calibre as its predecessor. It’s hard to tell at this point if Montreal got lucky with Human Revolution, as we’re only two games in to the cycle, but the dip in quality from that to Mankind Divided is quite significant: weak story; zero character development; and a rather bland and style-less colour pallet from the very striking black and gold world made previous are just a few of the major flaws found with the sequel. The fact that the story was a half-baked plot with little consequence is a terrible thing to see, given everything Human Revolution built up, but the final coffin nail was brought down on Eidos stripping the game of major story lines and missions, crippling a game that wouldn’t have come close to its predecessor to begin with, but in its current state made matters that much worse. Human Revolution was a creative and artistic masterpiece that flowed and connected on every level, and its soundtrack is something that really magnified the Cyberpunk world that was given to players.
How do you top a score that was both off the scale with emotion and beauty -- as well as being one that defines and paints the games world perfectly? It must have been a daunting task, and one that leaves me to speculate as the reason why composers Sascha Dikiciyan and Ed Harrison were brought into the project. But irony can be a bitch at times, and the blunt truth is that this idea not only damages what Michael does so well, but leaves an LP that doesn’t come a country mile near its big brother; suffering from incoherency, a tonal imbalance and a lack of character, Mankind Divided OST
struggles to suck you into its world. This I feel is down to the three composers having three different ideas for the LP. Quite frankly Sascha Dikiciyan’s contributions to the score are pretty dull, and lack the energy needed to keep the listener engaged, sure he has some stand out moments on his tracks like the booming kick in to “Prague” or the “Main Theme”, but for the most part there isn’t much to grab onto. This is also a worrying prospect as 14 of the 29 tracks here are composed by Sascha Dikiciyan. That’s right, Michael McCann only contributes 11 tracks to his score, while the remainder of the 4 songs goes to Ed Harris. The biggest disappointment is that Michael’s tracks are fantastic; “Sewers”, “TF29” and “Palisade Bank” (especially “TF29”) are beautiful songs that have the classic epic build up he used on Human Revolution, with swells that masterfully finish off on a satisfying crescendo. In the end it just left me screaming for more compositions from him, and one that leaves an empty, unfulfilled hole by the time the album closes.
The problem stems from the mindset of these three composers: Michael McCann’s compositions, even though they have synth and whatnot, take on a much more organic style; the swells and orchestral touches really bring a unique and interesting sound throughout. Ed Harris’ tracks are by and large the weakest offerings on here, simply because he relies more on a contemporary electronic sound, and one that, to me, diminishes and disengages you from a sound that suits the game so well at this point; while Sascha Dikiciyan’s tracks lay on the lines of the middle man, combining the two styles together. It’s most definitely a pro that Ed only has 4 tracks on here, because had he been dominant, it could have left a completely different feeling to the one people enjoyed so much with the score previous. But it also has to be said that Sascha’s passive attitude towards the two styles makes his songs forgettable as well. In the end, what you’re left with is a harsh contrast in styles; a clash of the titans situation is evident here, and one that leaves the LP suffering in the process. Michael’s songs are for the most part exceptional, but the other two composers end up making the rest of the score a forgettable and wasted mess. Mankind Divided OST
, like the game, lacks focus, originality and consistency. It has some solid moments throughout -- even some of Sascha’s tracks have decent ideas in them -- but Ed Harris’ style is too out there to help the album along, and the results are a little bumpy to say the least.