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Biohazard/Resident Evil 2
Good horror score for game or movie. -Isaac Engelhorn (10/3/2001)
Biohazard 2 Original Soundtrack is a video game soundtrack. You will find the track list plus an extensive track-by-track analysis below the standard review. It is my hope that you will gain a better understanding of video game music by reading exactly what it has to offer as it is different from American film music.
Composed by:
Masami Ueda,
Syusaku Uchiyama,
Shun Nishigaki

We all love a good horror score, right? Especially one that is not only entertaining, but tense and nerveracking at the same time. That's definitely what we have here. While not quite as tension-filled as Silent Hill, which was actually a differnt approach altogether, Biohazard 2 - Original Soundtrack contains what fans of most traditional horror scores enjoy listening to. Though not a genuine orchestral performance, the score utilizes some of the highest-quality synths you will find. On the Playstation or otherwise.

Like Hitoshi Sakimoto's Vagrant Story score, this goes so far as to incorporate dissonance into the synths, among other, more Media Ventures-derived sounds, like electronic backbeats and the like.

While most of the tracks are written as background music following no discernable pattern, the first five tracks are all cinematic cues meant to accompany the FMVs (full-motion videos) of the game.

BH2 is also full of some rather impressive theme, though the one that leaves the greatest impression is probably the "G Tyrant" theme, heard in tracks 17, 21, and 29. This eight-note theme comes off as one of the most adrenaline-pumping action themes to come from a video game.

Overall, those looking for a good horror score, with shocking moments, constant thrills, terrifying ambience, and other effective traits had better take a second look at what video game soundtracks have to offer. I'd almost go so far as to say that Biohazard 2 - Original Soundtrack is an essencial purchase for fans of horror scores everywhere. Almost. It is a tad bit pricey.

Track TitleTrack AnalysisRating
1. The Beginning of the StoryThe score begins with rather typical somber dissonance, but as the track moves on, the music gains intensity and volume. It drops off in a few key places and seemingly starts over from scratch, but eventually becomes intentinally unstable, making violent changes in both tempo and volume. Some different easter eggs are added to the mix like snippets of descending male choir, odd synth effects, and Media Venture-ish backbeats (which I actually don't like too well, but they work).7.5/10
2. Annette's RecollectionIt's true that this is not much a stylistic departure from the previous track, but there are enough new ideas (and recurring motifs) that you will recognize moving between the tracks, like the previously mentioned Media Ventures style of writing. What is different about this track as opposed to the previous one is that rather than bounce up and down in ferocity, it basically runs itself ragged from beginning to end, with very little calmness.7/10
3. Normal End TitleFirst off, the track title is a little misleading, because this really isn't an end title. Instead it is another cue for an action sequence that happens immediately after you win the game for the first time. Although rather short, the first action half of the track packs quite a whallop, while the second half is a calmer, soothing part after the danger is over (or so you're meant to think). What I always find amusing about the second half of this track is that a theme that enters reminds me of a song from the mid-1980s called "I Miss You". I forget the name of who performed it, but I really could care less. 80s pop music isn't exactly the kind of stuff that I listen to. ;-)7.5/10
4. Special End TitleAgain, the track title is misleading for the exact same reason. This cue is what plays as you finally, *truly* beat the game. Again, the first half is relentless action music, but once the danger is over, a piano enters signifying that all is okay for our characters, until they are called into action once again. This track segues into the next by means of a quote by Leon, one of the main characters of the game.7.5/10
5. Credit Line of Whole StaffThis is much different from the preceding tracks. Instead of an orchestral piece for the true end title (finally), the composers insert a rather harsh hard rock song. I'm certain that most fans of film scores will be appalled by this track, but I can actually get into it, because it actually does fit in with the game quite well, even though it is a bit distracting on album.8/10
6. PrologueThe track titles may make the tracks seem a little out of order. While this is not technically true since the music has intentionally been split up into certain sections, I think that it would have made more sense to put the tracks in an order that would have made a better listening experience. Unfortunately, this is not the case, but this particular track is actually more like a cue because it is not an in-game background piece. Instead it is the music that plays as you, the player, are being introduced to the story and are being given background information on the situation. Though it constantly throbs heavily, it never really gets too intense and kind of gets lost in the middle of the whole score.6/10
7. Raccoon CityThis begins almost exactly like the "Prologue" track, and sounds quite similar. While you don't get to hear the full thing, the G Tyrant theme is hinted at a couple of times. This is another track that has a constant backbeat akin to your average Media Ventures action score (I've been mentioning these guys a lot, haven't I?).7/10
8. The Front HallSince the main hall of the police station is one of the "safe" areas in the game, this music is a more subdued, "easy" piece. I certainly wouldn't say it's comforting, since it quite clearly signifies the looming danger that waits inside the rest of the police station.7/10
9. The First Floor"The First Floor" is similar, yet considerably more tense than the previous track. It's almost as if the music itself knows what kind of danger you can run into at any moment, making it a more effective piece of music than "The Front Hall".7.5/10
10. The Second FloorAs a suitable continuation in the progression of tracks, this is quite similar to the previous two, yet at the same time, it is even more dissonant and foreboding than what has been heard before, making it the most effective background track yet.7.5/10
11. Secure PlaceAs the track title may have given away, this music plays when your character has found and is in a room in which there are no monsters and there is no threat of your destruction. Basically, it is just simple piano and string ambience, but it is effectively soothing.7/10
12. Leon With ClaireThis ambient piece plays in a part of the game that involves the a short meeting between the two main characters. The instrumentation is mostly unchanged from the last few tracks. Lots of (synth) strings coupled with a distant piano.7/10
13. The LibraryAnother track similar to the "floor" cues, but in some way, this is actually more effective in its tension. I'm not exactly sure why this is, but I think that this track is the best and most effective used during the sequence of the game that takes place at the police station.7.5/10
14. Sherry's ThemeI'm not entirely certain why this track is reffered to as a "theme" since there is not discernable melody at all. Instead, it is simply made up of more ambience. Although it is not particularly noteworthy, it helps the flow of the album, since it's not quite as bleak as most of the previous tracks. In fact, though it's melancholy, it has a rather hopeful sound overall.7/10
15. The Basement of the Police StationThis is easily the darkest of all of the ambient tracks that take place in the library. Rather than being a traditional ambient piece, it is more like a collection of slow, dark sound effects. This may sound as if it's similar to the Silent Hill, but I wouldn't really go so far as to make that particular comparison. Silent Hill's ambience was based more in an industrial rock setting, while this consists of different, odder synth effects. Probably the most interesting of these sounds like a muted gong.6/10
16. "T" -AThis is what plays as your character is first confronted by a "tyrant", a huge, lumbering zombie. While this grabs your attention at the very beginning, it lacks the cohesion that could make it a really interesting track. It does work quite well in the game, but on CD, it loses much of it's power. I generall skip this while listening to the whole score.5.5/10
17. The First Malformation of "G"This is the first variation of the "G" theme mentioned in the introduction. This is the first real in-game action track, that plays a your character runs into William Burkin, a scientist who has injected himself with the "G Virus" to mutate his body.7/10
18. Ada's ThemeAgain, it is rather hard to actually call this a theme. While there is a flute that plays above everything, it is hard to really pick out a consistant melody. As you may have guessed, it is basically another dark, ambient track with strings and piano. I think that this only plays in one part of the game as Leon talks to Ada after she has been wounded by William Birkin, the scientist mentioned earlier.6.5/10
19. The Marshaling Yard (The First Half)There's not much to categorize in this track, as it is obviously more ambience, but the "orchestrations" added make it stand out a little. There is a little bit of odd keyboard added to the constant strings and a couple pieces of "clanking" noise in the background. But what probably sets this out the most from other tracks is what sounds like a choir taking a large breath out together. Of course it's not a real choir, but the effect is still pretty cool-sounding.7.5/10
20. The Marshaling Yard (The Latter Half)This uses the practically identical instrumentation to the previous track, only the "instruments" are used in slightly different ways. For example, a choir is used in place of the strings from before and what strings are here are quiet and dissonant. Although it is harder to notice this time around, the breathing choir is here again, too.7/10
21. The Second Malformation of "G"Big action cue time! As you may have guessed, this is a huge, pounding variation on the "G" theme. This arrangement of the theme is much more malicious and overbearing than the last, even though it is rather straight-forward. In the game, this is very effective and on album, it is one of the most entertaing tracks.8/10
22. The Underground LaboratoryThe ambience of this track is much less musical than most of the other tracks like it. Instead of using the traditional instrumentation of the other pieces of music, this instead relies more on the use of sound effects to unnerve the player. Later in the track, the more traditional elements do show up for a very short time. I probably like this track a little less than others of its kind, though I do think that it is still effective and decent.6.5/10
23. Is Ada a Spy?Well, the answer to the title of this track is yes, because this is the music that plays as you are told by another character that one of the people that you are with has been working against you the whole time. Naturally, your character is skeptical, but it should seem quite obvious to anyone who's seen a B Horror flick that what she says falls in-line with most horror cliches. The track itself is hardly interesting at all, as all it presents is a collection of synthy sounds atop a rather dull, throbbing bass guitar line.5.5/10
24. Escape from the LaboratoryI was extremely impressed with this music the first time I heard it in the context of the game. While the effect has worn off on me with time, the track should still prove to be very effective for people who play the game that never have before. This is like many of the opening, cinematic tracks as it take the more action oriented approach with many Media Venture-ish synth qualities. It is a fast-paced action/suspense track that does an incredibly good job of keeping the player in a state of grueling and desperate horror.7.5/10
25. Goodbye, Leon...For being in a video game based on B movie sensibilities, this track is extremely effective as a dramatic tool. You can almost feel the anguish of the character Leon in the game as this music plays. This occurs when Ada dies, though it only happens so noticeably if you play through the game as Leon first (you have a choice between him and a young woman named Claire. No, not the Claire from The Breakfast Club ;-) ).8/10
26. MotherThis track is one of the softer, more inspirational tracks (which might seem unusual in this game, but it works). I really like this, even though it is melancholy, as one of the character's mothers is dying. The soft piano tinkling is a highlight.7/10
27. One More KissThe music here plays as Leon believes that he is watching Ada die in a different scenario. Since this scenario is the more important of the two, you would think that this track would have intentionally been a little more effective in conveying emotions, but unfortunately it is not. The track "Goodbye, Leon..." is much more effective. I just don't think that this music tries hard enough, though I probably shouldn't complain since the other track that I've mentioned actually tries a little too hard. Maybe the composers were trying to make a perfect balance between the two. Guess I'll never know for sure, but the track's decent anyway, just not as good as it could have been.6.5/10
28. "T" -BThis is another track that astounded me at how well it worked in the game. Well, the introduction impressed me more than the overall track. The opening seconds contain a rising chorus that sounded teriffic (I'd never heard chorus used in a video game soundtrack up to that point). The rest of the track is rather typical action filler that plays as you fight a "Tyrant", which is basically a giant zombie, only bigger, faster, and much more deadly. Of all the big action tracks though, this is probably the single least interesting, but it does score points for the cool intro.7/10
29. The Third Malformation of "G"Easily my favorite overall track, the final goodbye to the G theme (or the final goodbye to your character, if you die) is the most incredibly pulse-pounding arrangement yet. This time the thumping sound is augmented by a wailing soprano vocal solo. Though it is synth, it sounds pretty good when mixed in with the rest of the music. Don't miss this track.8.5/10
30. And After That...This a simple and calm resolution to not just the recent onslaught of action, but the entire creepy game as well. It's just a quiet, simple piano solo over strings that hardly even change notes. It is short, but provides ample time for the gamer to calm down.7/10
31. Credit LineThis particular track sounds a little out-of-place when compared to the rest of the music. It is a dramatic orchestral piece with a theme which is not based on any of the music previously heard. Probably what I find the oddest about it is the fact that all of the softer, less terrifying music heard before was soothing, but always had a dark or melancholy twist to it. This track is nothing but warmth and happiness. I still like it a lot though, and it makes a decent way to end the album.7.5/10

Biohazard 2 is Copyright 1998 Seleputer. CD produced by Mareo Yamada. Executive producer: Kenichi Tanaka. This review is written by and is the property of Isaac Engelhorn and does not reflect the opinions of Tripod.