I can't help operating on the fringes of actual game playing these days, due to my work which concentrates on simulation and video editing, and time constraints and other interests in general, so here's something game-related I'm eager to share with you.
As it concerns the strategy game Praetorians
(2003) by the Spanish game company Pyro Studios, I thought the best place to post it would be in this forum, though I believe the score would also appeal to people who're not really into action, perhaps even more so.
Anyway, through some great-looking cutscenes I watched on YouTube, I checked out Mateo Pascual's score for the game, and I absolutely fell in love with it! Pyro Studios and their house composer Pascual are better known for their Commandos
series, all of which have scores with orchestral scope, but as the series progressed, and the graphics resolution and audio quality could be improved, they got more symphonic and used more real instruments and voices, culminating in Commandos: Strike Force
from 2006, which had a score entirely performed by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra and City Choir.
Here's my Praetorians
score review I wrote on Amazon:
Captivating, fluent score that skilfully manages to avoid bombast
5.0 out of 5 stars
Captivating score that creates an epic sweep and plenty of suspense, while avoiding the tired martial clichés of thunderous drums and blaring horns. Exciting parts with percussion propelling the music alternate with numerous slow, soothing passages of arpeggios played on plucked stringed instruments, often an actual acoustic guitar, or fairly realistic sounding harps and dulcimers. Their delicate effect is augmented by digital impressions of floating flutes, clarinets, oboes and strings.
This fits in perfectly with the genre of the game, as it involves military campaign strategy as much as it does action. Hints of Eastern scales and traditional woodwinds appropriately accompany the Roman missions in the Middle East. There is an interesting variety of shifts in rhythm, polyphony and counterpoint throughout that holds the listener's attention.
A nice live choir (is it real Latin or pig Latin?) adds compelling dramatic touches. My only, minor disappointment is that the orchestral sounds come across somewhat synthetic and thin. I don't think the composer is to blame for this, because, unfortunately, a full orchestra would generally be considered far too expensive for such a game, excellent tough it is, with arguably limited means and appeal. Now, if only this score had been performed with real symphonic instruments! The high quality of the composition truly deserves it!
Mateo Pascual himself was kind enough to respond to my review:
Many thanks for contacting me and for your great review, I'm happy to know you like my music. I really enjoyed a lot working on Praetorians and I agree it would have been amazing to be able to record it with real orchestra. That's something I did propose to the company since the early days, but that of course wasn't always possible due to the budget. I had the opportunity to record with orchestra and choir one year later though, for Commandos Strike Force. And indeed that was an amazing experience 😊
Regarding getting the physical edition, I think it's difficult to find it right now.
So, give his scores a try if you like, a few spins on Spotify is always welcome, and if you really like them, especially the ones I mentioned, please buy them as downloads on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon etc., and spread the word. I would love to have the CD, but as Mateo says, it has become a very rare collector's item by now.