Winifred Phillips is a composer with a great deal of experience in composing for Games, and we previously reviewed her score for the VR Game Scraper: First Strike while also mentioning her book "A Composer's Guide to Game Music". In fact Phillips is now a BAFTA-nominated composer who can rightfully claim to have scored game titles from a wide range of gaming franchises, including: Assassin's Creed, God of War, Lineage, LittleBigPlanet, The Sims, and Total War. Her latest project adds yet another well-known franchise with "JURASSIC WORLD PRIMAL OPS" which has been released worldwide alongside the theatrical run of the hit movie "JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION" scored by Michael Giacchino who has taken over from the venerable John Williams on the film franchise. Phillips' key task is therefore to create a score which sits within the sound world of the existing franchise, yet match the game-play of "Primal Ops" itself.
Winifred Phillips accomplishes this double-edged task from the start. The first track "Kingdom of Rex" imparts a dark urgency to the score setting the tone of peril faced by the game characters, and the second track "Jurassic Companion" introduces the Primal Ops main theme which harks back to the sense of nobility and wonder from the earliest films. This main theme and various other franchise touches reappear in various guises in later tracks. Apart from these fairly subtle reference points, they do not overly influence the tone of the game score which is very much its own beast. Instead, as we might expect, the score focuses more on the action since that is a major part of the game play rather, the emotions and character development that we might expect in a movie. At this point in the review, it is best to illustrate how the score fits the gameplay with reference to this YouTube video showing scenes and sections of the gameplay accompanied by appropriate selections from the score.
The main theme from "Jurassic Companion" is hinted at initially against a percussive accompaniment and wooden flute flourishes. In classic scoring fashion the partial theme is first heard on piano, then with fuller statements on strings followed by horns before orchestral development returning to the original sounds of piano, percussion and flute. Having embedded this main theme in our consciousness, the composer then quotes parts of the theme on later tracks, usually on brass to cut through orchestral tutti. Rythmic percussion on bongos return in "Dino Hunters" with staccato string figures, and then the sense of urgency increases with atonal figures exchanged across the orchestra and occasional references to the main theme. "Stalking the Reptiles returns to percussion-led tension with short figures on strings and vibes, before the tempo increases a notch in "Capture the Beast".
Unsurprisingly given a track title like "The Good The Bad and The Raptors", we then hear a Western vibe with a combination of acoustic and electric guitars and rattlesnake sounds. "Dinosaur Country" is perhaps another metaphor since the guitars remain albeit strummed, while the tempo increases further with plenty of brass figures. "Mountain Rescue" consists of thick dischords against the familiar jungle-like sound of percussion & wooden flute. "Primal Ops" then brings the score to a satisfying sense of conclusion with a martial ostinato, almost star wars empire-like, accompanied with a snare drum and introducing staccato brass chords. This reaches an energetic climax with longer references to the main theme to bring the score full circle.
The composer has compiled these tracks with care as though setting out an album, but it is not clear if it will be released as such. There are indications that the "Primal Ops" game will be discontinued from the end of October 2022 (now confirmed on the official website), so get your fix of the game now while it is still available. The score totally meets its objectives of fitting perfectly within the existing Jurassic sound world, and yet providing a distinctive "Primal Ops" score which is key to providing game players witha unique and truly immersive experience. Yet another franchise hit from this versatile composer!
The composer's own website which includes a wealth of music and music links is at WinifredPhillips.com.