Emperor: The Battle For DuneWhen you see a quarter of a dozen screenwriters on a project, run screaming. Sometimes the same applies to composers, but not always – some of my all-time favorite soundtracks are the products of triumvirates of musicians. Take, for example, the soundtrack from 1996’s Doctor Who movie, or the soundtrack from Alien Nation. But I’ve never before encountered a computer game whose music was cooked up by committee – however, in the case of Emperor, it works.

Before any screams about the lack of availability information on this, I’ll go ahead and point out right now that the Emperor soundtrack is a limited edition item which was only available with some pre-orders of the game. And I have to complain bitterly about the lack of neat packaging, or, for that matter, almost any packaging whatsoever. I was reminded somewhat of the days when I had to generate my own Babylon 5 CD covers. But when was the last time anyone bought a CD because of cool packaging? Okay, aside from last Tuesday, probably not anytime recently. The music is what counts. I just had to vent about the whole “generic CD-ROM paper envelope” treatment.

The musical duties for Emperor were split three ways between composers David Arkenstone (who has worked on prior Westwood/Electronic Arts titles such as the Lands Of Lore series), Jarrid Mendelson (who composed music for the Command & Conquer sequel Tiberian Sun, and Westwood’s primary in-house composer Frank Klepacki (who we recently interviewed here at theLogBook.com). That’s a bit of a problem in places, because there are places where I’d swear that they thought they were still composing for a Command & Conquer game.

Klepacki’s music remains the truest to what went before with the music from Dune 2000, Westwood’s previous interactive foray into Frank Herbert’s fictional universe. (And this is a no-brainer, since Klepacki did all of the music for that game.) David Arkenstone’s themes for the Harkonnen are all cut from the same heavy-metal cloth, while Mendelson’s Ordos orchestrations demonstrate that he’s been listening to a lot of Nine Inch Nails.

The highlights include the pounding anthem “Ride The Worm” and “Not An Option”, quite possibly the best 3 out of 4Nine Inch Nails song that Trent Reznor & co. never actually played.

Despite my misgivings about some of the music fitting better into the Command & Conquer millieu than the world of Dune, it’s all quite enjoyable, and stands well on its own apart from the game. Klepacki especially is proving without a doubt that he’s ready to score a movie or perhaps some TV.

Order this CD

  1. The War Begins (4:33)
  2. The Machine (4:50)
  3. Not An Option (3:52)
  4. Unstoppable (5:50)
  5. Ride The Worm (5:35)
  6. Sabotage (4:19)
  7. Harkonnen Force (5:29)
  8. Assembling The Troops (7:42)
  9. Ghola (3:48)
  10. Legacy (6:14)
  11. The Specimen (5:06)
  12. The Spice Must Flow (4:47)
  13. Tribute To Evil (6:21)

Released by: Westwood Studios / Electronic Arts
Release date: 2001
Total running time: 68:26

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