I’ve never picked up a soundtrack for a racing game before. They’re usually mix tapes of various hip hop, rock, and techno tracks with the occasional orchestral piece thrown in. I have nothing against popular and mainstream music, but I’ve gotten into video game soundtracks because I really enjoy the orchestral music. (The soundtrack for Max Payne 3 is a complete outlier.) So yes, looking at the soundtrack for Project CARS never even crossed my mind, because that surely is more of the same. However, I received a press release from the label last month, advertising the soundtrack, and they included the following quote from the composer, Stephen Baysted:
Like all authentic racing simulation titles, there is no music during gameplay; car engines always take precedence. My job as composer is to try to enhance the player’s sense of immersion in this world of racing and deepen their emotional and psychological responses to it by ‘preparing’ them for the race. The music in the menu system is therefore dramatic, gripping, epic, gladiatorial and is infused with race day sounds – cars, crowds, tannoys – so that it links directly to the sound world they will be exposed to whilst racing. It tries to get inside the head of the racing driver and represent the range of emotions they feel – fear, excitement, nerves, adrenaline pumping, and danger. Imagine what it is like driving at Le Mans at 330 kph in the dark as you slice your way through traffic! As a result, it’s a varied score and reflects many facets of motorsport.
NOW, good sir, you have my attention. Firstly, there is a composer. Secondly, he wanted to make menu screens exciting? This I gotta hear.
Granted, many games have done a fantastic job with placing great music with their menus. Saints Row IV comes to mind as well as Double Dragon. Oh, the memories of 8-bit chip tune menu music. That was truly the best menu music, something that we’ve kind of fallen away from over the years. Which is fine, but it’s great that composers are finding new ways to jazz up menu screens, so to speak.
Since this is mostly menus, the soundtrack is very, very short at 12 tracks running for 31 minutes. Yet, with tracks like the one below, it’s very easy to keep this OST on loop for a bit.
Did you ever expect to hear an opera singer in a racing game? I feel revved up and ready to go, and I loathe racing games. I wonder if I would start speeding down the highway if I listened to this soundtrack while on road trips.
Instead of blending together a varied collection of tracks, Baysted put together a blend of orchestral, pop, and a bit of techno in each track. As such, you really can’t pin this OST down as one genre or another—anything other than soundtrack. At the same time, he keeps the blended ingredients similar, so the soundtrack is cohesive like a beautiful soup, rather than thrown together like leftover night.
The Project CARS soundtrack was indeed a welcome and pleasant surprise, however, it’s length leaves plenty to be desired. I know that the OST contains all of the tracks possible, since the game has no music while racing, but it’s hard to recommend $10 for 30 minutes of music, especially when one half of the soundtrack for Assassin’s Creed Unity has more than twice the songs, more than twice the length, and costs only $1 more. The music is well worth it for the variety and how much it will get you ready to race, but it may be rather steep for those who aren’t hardcore video game soundtrack fans.
Digital review copy received via label.