Universe At War: Earth AssaultThe latest real-time strategy PC gaming experience from Petroglyph Games is also the latest epic soundtrack from veteran game composer Frank Klepacki, and while I’ll admit I haven’t had a chance to check out Universe At War itself (something strange happens to my urges to blow stuff up when I have to bottle-feed a baby every few hours), the music alone makes me want to.

Which may be a big part of the reason why the game’s entire soundtrack – three CDs’ worth clocking in at over two hours – is available free online. As with many of the previous games scored by Klepacki, there are several factions with whom players can ally themselves, and each faction has its own robust selection of music, ranging from raging action to more menacingly low-key music while building up resources for the next attack (or the next last-ditch defense). And as with many of his past projects, the music for each playable side kicks butt in its own way.

The Hierarchy music is the sort of thing that Command & Conquer Players will remember well – crunchy guitars, percussion that doesn’t take prisoners, and driving beats aplenty. If that’s what you’re coming for, you won’t go home disappointed. The selection of music for the Novus faction is more electronica-driven, with a mysterious sound. There’s still plenty of distorted guitar in here, but the emphasis is on more obviously synthetic instruments and motifs. The dreamy “Technical Data” and the aggressive “Zap” are highlights here.

But by far the real meat and potatoes of the Universe At War score is the Masari music, which includes the game’s opening theme and end credits. The Masari tracks are blow-the-walls-down, theatrical orchestral-operatic epics – while listening to “Divine Intervention”, I was thinking “someone hurry up and make a great kick-ass action movie to go with this great kick-ass music.” This stuff knocks it out of the park repeatedly, and reinforces my total bewilderment as to how the man has managed to dodge a major movie assignment. Sooner or later, that’s gotta catch up with him. The end credits suite, combining elements from all three factions’ themes with a thundering techno beat layered in for good measure, makes me want to jump up out of my seat and empty a clip of ammo into something – it’s some of the best action music I’ve heard in years. (And I’m not prone to wanting to get up and fire away, so that should tell you something!)

4 out of 4It’s hard to go wrong with some free music, and for the sheer quantity of tracks that you get for a little bit of download time here, you’re almost certain to find something you like. Since this is a free download in support of a commercially available product, it’s only fair to recommend that you support the composer and developer by buying Universe At War: Earth Assault in theLogBook.com Store if you’re so inclined.

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    Hierarchy

  1. Damage King (3:43)
  2. Doom of the Aliens (3:26)
  3. On Edge (2:20)
  4. Anticipating (2:41)
  5. Slithering (3:09)
  6. Schematic (1:45)
  7. Mechanical Brain (3:53)
  8. Strangers Attack (3:22)
  9. Impending Doom (2:58)
  10. Prepare For Oblivion (3:09)
  11. Surrounding (5:00)
  12. Haunt (3:55)
    Novus

  1. Modern Design (3:53)
  2. Act On Invasion (3:19)
  3. Electrode (4:04)
  4. Calculations (2:23)
  5. Bass Case (3:43)
  6. Moving Forces (3:05)
  7. Technical Data (3:30)
  8. Roots (3:38)
  9. Hit And Run (3:05)
  10. Fog Of War (3:44)
  11. Composite (3:23)
  12. Resources (3:08)
  13. Zap (2:41)
    Masari

  1. Divine Intervention (theme for Universe At War) (3:26)
  2. Reanimation (3:35)
  3. Surveying The Land (2:34)
  4. Resurfaced (3:00)
  5. Mind In Motion (2:28)
  6. Display Of Power (2:41)
  7. Disturbance (3:48)
  8. Dark Intrusion (2:52)
  9. The Gathering (3:53)
  10. Ancient Presence (3:06)
  11. Masari Suite (Suspended, Architecture, Masari Victory) (3:45)
  12. Credits: Universe At War Remix Suite (3:40)

Released by: Petroglyph Games / Frank Klepacki
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 121:45