Resistance: Retribution (Garry Schyman)

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The Resistance: Fall of Man series has been one of the premiere Sony exclusives for their consoles, with reasonable reviews and sales. Interestingly, the first official score release in the series wasn’t the original game, scored by Ratchet and Clank‘s David Bergeaud, or its big-budget sequel, with newcomer Boris Salchow behind the podium. Rather it was Resistance: Retribution, a gaiden for the PSP with none other than Garry Schyman handling the music.

Schyman has carved a name for himself in game scoring, penning retro sci-fi music for the Destroy all Humans series and a complex if incompletely released score for the critically acclaimed BioShock and its sequels. Resistance: Retribution builds directly off of the latter, presenting an expansion of Schyman’s ambitious, chaotic, and often atonal action music from that game. In fact, the music at times plays like a second Bioshock score release, with the paltry bit of action scoring in the original massively expanded.

The opening “Retribution” is one of the only breaks from straight-out horror or action, with a heroic major-key melody in “Retribution” reinterpreted as a lament in “James Greyson” and “Burying Our Dead.” From “Parting Ways” through “Back to Business,” Schyman lets the music rip, bursting with dense blasts of brass and strings, building into snarling crescendos. “Guns of Rotterdam” offers a straightforward presentation of this style, while many of the later tracks work innovative effects into their soundscapes. “Earthmover” mixes horror strings with the sounds of water drops and distant explosions building to an explosive statement of strings and percussion, for instance.

The relentlessness of the music can be wearying. The album is mostly straight-up action, with only short sections of atmospheric or horror music to break it up. There’s certainly none of the impassioned, tragically romantic string writing from BioShock — no love theme or other similar material to provide respite from the brutal action, only a few statements of a mournful dirge. As such, while it’s easy to appreciate what Schyman has done, it can be hard to get through the album in one sitting.

Released on the same day as the game, Sony’s download-only album is available via iTunes, and contains about 45 minutes of music as well as a digital booklet with full technical credits. The music is heartily recommended to fans of Schyman’s action music in BioShock — the album is a beautifully-arranged smorgasbord of those sounds. If you didn’t care for the atonal, experimental side of Rapture, Resistance: Retribution probably isn’t for you.

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