XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
Musical Score By: Tim Wynn
Distributed by: 2K
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
XCOM 2 is a turn-based tactics video game that is a sequel to the reboot of the series XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Taking place twenty years later, the military organization trying to fight off an alien invasion has lost the war. Now they find themselves part of a resistance force, fighting the occupation of their planet. War of the Chosen is an expansion pack which makes changes to XCOM 2’s campaign structure and adds new characters, enemies, modifiers and character behaviors. There are new enemy aliens called the Chosen, elite warriors tasked with defeating XCOM and recapturing their commander. There are new rebel factions as well and a neutrally aligned zombie-like enemy – former humans called the Lost.
For the musical score of XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, the creators of the video game need look no further than the composer of the original XCOM 2 score, Tim Wynn. As a younger man, Tim Wynn picked up the guitar with the intention of becoming a rock star. Teaching himself how to write music and be a collaborative player in rock bands, Wynn eventually received more formal music training as a founding member of the Orange County High School of the Performing Arts in 1988. Studying under well-respected guitar player and production music writer, Mike Ferenci, Wynn began exploring how to create music for images. He then attended the USC School of Music where he studied under Elmer Bernstein, Christopher Young, Buddy Baker and Jerry Goldsmith. After graduating, Tim Wynn began writing for Corman Productions. After composing video game promos for THQ, Wynn was hired to co-compose The Punisher game soundtrack with Christopher Lennertz. Since then, he has amassed quite a résumé, including the musical score of To Save a Life, Descendant, Darkness II, Total War Warhammer, Madden NFL 25, Warhawk, Supernatural, The Deep End, James Dean Forever Young and XCOM2: Shen's Last Gift.
According to the composer, “Overall the music for XCOM 2: War of the Chosen has a much darker and grittier tone that of XCOM2. Although XCOM 2 is about Earth’s potential alien encounter with Earth, for this score I went old school and went more analog. It was my first score using the Matrix Brute. It’s a wicked sounding analog beast. I guess you could best describe the XCOM 2: War of the Chosen sound as being orchestral analog…The mostly heroic XCOM theme, and sinister Advent still play a big role. There are quite a few new themes introduced in XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, but the big three are Chosen themes: The Warlock, The Assassin and The Hunter.”
The score of XCOM2: War of the Chosen is mostly heroic with electronic and orchestral music combining to tell the tale. It begins somewhat dark, offering up the impression of a disheartening loss and eventually lightening with the idea of hope for the future, a feeling of resolve toward something better. To say that I could get all of that from the first couple of tracks of this album is really something – this music truly spoke to me, perfectly describing the plight of humanity as they recover from the loss of the war and the occupation by alien forces. That this music was created for a video game is equally incredible for someone who can remember the 8-bit sound that used to accompany video games. This score could just as easily have been created for a full-length feature film as a video game.
The score is mainly action-based, with some awesome adrenaline pumping music, but there are darker, softer moments, punctuated by electronic sound, that define the enemies in this game. There are also moments of sobering determination which describe various “good guy” characters found in this game. Put altogether, the XCOM 2: War of the Chosen Soundtrack is one exciting musical ride. I listened to this soundtrack at home, then took it along with me in the car. This is the perfect album to accompany a nice, long highway trip – exciting enough to enhance your ride…hopefully not exciting enough to get you pulled over. I had a great time listening to the War of the Chosen Soundtrack and have no doubt that fans of the game will love it just as much as I do!