Medal of Honor: Frontline Soundtrack, Michael Giacchino, 2002
Both Medal of Honor and Medal of Honor: Underground had made a point of treating World War II not as a fun shooting spree (well, mostly). Instead, they approached the subject matter with an unusual degree of seriousness and respect. Medal of Honor: Frontline went further still, basing its story line on a failed Allied offensive: Operation Market Garden. This allowed the game’s developers to aim for an even greater sense of gravitas, born out of defeat and tragedy. Medal of Honor series regular Michael Giacchino responded similarly to the game’s comparatively downbeat subject matter. For Giacchino, Frontline is the ideal opportunity to once more expand the Medal of Honor franchise’s emotional palette. The result is one of the most operatic, grand Western game soundtracks ever written.
Where Frontline truly sets itself apart from previous Medal of Honor franchise scores is on its slower, downright elegiac compositions. These take the score’s theatricality to melodramatic heights that rival the game-music-as-opera surges of Heroes of Might and Magic II. “Arnhem” is one such piece, taken to emotional extremes by a full choir, to absolutely heart-rending effect. Based on a gently rocking, almost lullaby-like four-note motif, “Arnhem” is a stunning creation whose emotional impact is nearly overwhelming, climaxing in two massive choral outbursts. Patriotism had always featured in this franchise, but on “Arnhem”, it doesn’t come from a place of solemn pride. Instead, it is born out of sorrow and the desperate will to survive.