SS2E: Music

ss2e-castleThe third segment of Serious Sam: The Second Encounter takes place around a bunch of castles in eastern Europe. I knew when I got the game that there was a section with European castles, and I expected it to be presented in the usual vaguely-chivalric fantasy vein. But no, this is Eastern Europe 1 Exactly where in Eastern Europe is unspecified. But he year is given as 1138 AD, which probably means it’s in modern-day Thxylvania or something. , which has a whole different set of tropes. The styling goes dark and gothic, and the background music turns into stereotypical old-fashioned B-movie creepshow stuff. How stereotypical? It’s based on the exact same four-note organ motif as the theme to Buffy.

A funny thing about the music in this game: it’s tied to the intensity of the action. I think each level has three main pieces of background music (excluding special areas with their own music): a sedate and almost ambient one for solitary unmolested exploration, a more uptempo one with more instruments for minor encounters, and one with electric guitars added for pitched battles. The funny thing about this is that the background music actually gives you information. Sometimes your first clue that you’re being attacked is that the music kicked up a gear. Likewise, when you’re finishing a battle, you can tell by the music when you’ve downed the last foe. It reminds me of Jaws (or rather, since I haven’t actually seen Jaws, it reminds me of the jokes about Jaws), how the shark’s presence was always signalled by the soundtrack before you saw it. But usually, in a movie, only the audience is aware of the soundtrack, so there’s no chance that the hero will notice the monster theme and react to it. In my hands, Sam varies his behavior in response to the music all the time.

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1. Exactly where in Eastern Europe is unspecified. But he year is given as 1138 AD, which probably means it’s in modern-day Thxylvania or something.

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