Medal of Honor Soundtrack, Michael Giacchino, 1999
It’s hard to find a historically more significant, more influential Western game soundtrack than Michael Giacchino’s Medal of Honor. Sure, the Medal of Honor soundtrack wasn’t the first orchestral game score to convincingly emulate movie scoring conventions. And it wasn’t even necessarily 1999’s most creative orchestral game score. That honour (no pun intended) actually needs to go to Outcast. But there were a number of powerful factors that turned Medal of Honor into a force that changed the course of game music history – and it wasn’t just the fact that Giacchino’s work was married to an immensely succesful game.
First and foremost, there is the soundtrack’s sheer artistic quality. Its strongest predecessors in the genre of live orchestral game music – Total Annihilation, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy and Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire – had already delivered outstanding music. However, the Medal of Honor soundtrack surpasses them all in terms of both breadth and consistent quality. In other words, there’s not a single weak composition on this 60+ min album. What’s more, the score’s thematic sophistication set a new benchmark for live orchestral game music. Giacchino writes no less than three main themes that run through the entire score. He always uses these melodies judiciously and uses them to further the music’s storytelling capabilities. On top of this, Giacchino introduces a new secondary motif on almost every track, builds the respective composition around this motif, and then masterfully weaves in the three major themes.