Medal of Honor Soundtrack, Michael Giacchino, 1999
It’s hard to find a historically more significant, more influential Western game score 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. 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 successful game.
First and foremost, there is the soundtrack’s sheer artistic quality. Its strongest predecessors in the genre of Western live orchestral game music – Heart of Darkness, Total Annihilation, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy – had already delivered some outstanding music. However, the Medal of Honor soundtrack surpasses them all in terms of both breadth and consistent quality (early Japanese orchestral game scores by the likes of Hiroshi Miyagawa, Yoko Kanno, Kohei Tanaka, Jun Nagao and Takayuki Hattori are a different story). 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 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.