Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory’s Soundtrack Was Perfectly Chaotic

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory’s Soundtrack Was Perfectly Chaotic

Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s daily hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-arse sounds they make. Today I’m talking, quietly, about Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory’s soundtrack.

You might not think Tom Clancy games from Ubisoft have great soundtracks, and for the most part you’d be right. That’s not to say the music in games like Ghost Recon or Rainbow Six is bad, it’s just never super memorable or incredibly interesting. I’ve played over 300 hours of Tom Clancy’s The Division 1 and 2 and I can’t even hum a single song from that game, let alone its main theme. But there are exceptions, like 2005’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (playlist / longplay / VGMdb). It has a fantastic, strange soundtrack that I still think might be one of the best to appear in any Ubisoft game.

Let’s take a listen:

Ubisoft / Amon Tobin (YouTube)

This might sound like a criticism, but I mean this in a good way: The songs on this soundtrack sound almost too busy. They get right on the cusp of out of control and yet, they never fully cross that line. It creates this perfect sense of chaos (heh…) and tension that makes me feel more anxious as I play. One of my favourite tracks is “El Cargo,” which perfectly strikes the balance between sounding good and out of control:

Ubisoft / Amon Tobin (YouTube)

Chaos Theory’s soundtrack was composed by Amon Tobin, a DJ and composer who is known for creating dark, strange electronic tracks. He’s been doing it for over two decades now, with some of his music appearing in big movies like The Italian Job and 21. To create the soundtrack for Chaos Theory, he created a track for each level in the game, then created four layers for each track, to allow Ubisoft to dynamically shift the song’s sound and feel depending on what was happening.

Enough about how the sausage was made. Let’s eat this damn thing. Here’s “Displaced,” my favourite song on the whole soundtrack and still one of my favourite songs to appear in any stealth game ever made. It’s got such a unique sound to it. To this day I still find this song creeping into my mind as I sneak around in other games:

Ubisoft / Amon Tobin (YouTube)

Later Splinter Cell soundtracks were good, but never came close to matching what Chaos Theory’s music achieved, striking a perfect balance between chaos and excitement and between creepy and explosive. If Chaos Theory was just an average game, this would be the best part of it. But Chaos Theory is one of the best sneakin’-around games ever made, so I guess it’s only fitting it has such a damn good soundtrack, too.

That’s it for today’s Morning Music! Watch the security cameras on your way out, or better yet, shoot them for me before you go. Oh, and be a good secret agent and leave a comment below telling us your favourite track from other Splinter Cell titles, or anything else you want to talk about. See you tomorrow!

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