As we talked, this nice chap whose name I forget was sort of on the periphery of our conversation, kind of just politely listening as one does when one isn’t quite involved in a conversation but is still signalling one’s intent to join in. Then Josh happened to mention how much he liked the soundtrack from Command & Conquer —the classic PC game that essentially invented top-down view, real-time strategy shooters upon its release all the way back in 1995, and which kicked off a franchise that is still making lots of money today.
Suddenly this chap’s eyes lit up and he mentioned that he was a fan. “Oh yeah, cool,” I said. “Which one’s your favourite,” I asked.
“All of them,” he said.
Then he showed us his Brotherhood Of Nod shoulder tattoo — they’re the bad guys from Command & Conquer and its many sequels.
This guy is serious about playing Command & Conquer.
Damn serious, son, damn serious.
Damn serious, son, damn serious.
A momentary silence followed as we suddenly came to the realisation that we’d been thoroughly out-nerded. “Respect!” I think was our immediate response.
Anyway, Josh had mentioned how much he liked the original Command & Conquer soundtrack, and then he said that it happens to be free to listen to (but not download) on the composer’s webpage, a guy called Frank Klepacki.
I’m told that being a video game programmer is a thankless, poorly paid, horrendously competitive profession, especially for the legions of entry-levels who hope to make it big some day.
So I imagine that being a video game soundtrack programmer is even more cutthroat. Frank Klepacki has, by the looks of it, made a serious career out of it (though I can’t tell you if he also has a Brotherhood Of Nod tattoo). Among his achievements he lists beating Trent Reznor in the PC Gamer Best Game Soundtrack award, going up against Quake, another classic videogame; being a session drummer for funk legends The Family Stone; and a producer in Las Vegas music studios, which I’m guessing is probably both far more profitable and also far less glamorous than being a video games music composer.
Trent Reznor finds out he didn’t win the PC Gamer award for Best Game Soundtrack.
Anyway, upon visiting his site my personal highlight was finding the music for the track Act On Instinct. For some reason I always thought it was called The Command & Conquer Theme or something.
To get to it, scroll down to the bottom of the page, scroll through the ‘music’ tab and find Command & Conquer, then scroll down in ‘track list’.
When you click on it the description reads: “The track that kicked off the game and made history!”
That statement can be taken literally, as this track was indeed the opening music to the first mission on the original Command & Conquer game.
It’s an instantly recognisable tune — its menacing, militant, industrial theme is unmistakable to anyone who ever played, or should I say, became hopelessly addicted to, the original Command & Conquer game.
The funniest part (to me anyway), however, is the fact that I found it impossible to listen to the first minute or two of that track without also imagining the automatic gunfire and cheesy screams of dying soldiers that occurred within the first 30 seconds of playing the first mission.
Seriously, if you’ve ever played this game at any length do me a favour and play Act On Instinct and try telling me you don’t imagine those very same sound effects.
You can buy Frank Klepacki’s music on iTunes where I notice the track Hell March, which featured in Red Alert, the Command & Conquer sequel, is by far the most popular track. Sadly, I recall how back in the day, my PC didn’t have the specs for Red Alert, so I never quite got into it as others evidently did. Clearly, Hell March, a metal-guitar driven industrial stomper (yeah it’s a good track but it didn’t quite do it for me) is for many more people what Act On Instinct is for me.
So please, one of you clever EBM / industrial DJ types… I urge you to unleash the inner nerdy brotherhood on the dancefloor and mix this track into your next set. The intro will go beautifully with lots of dancey industrial stuff. Maybe even loop that intro once or twice if you’re really clever.
Please do it. It’ll go off like a GDI ion cannon.