Final Fantasy XV Limited Edition Blu Ray Soundtrackby Brent Roberts
Before we begin, I have to stress that the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack should be experienced AFTER you have completed the game. Failure to do that will cause massive spoilers thanks to tracks and their imagery on the Blu Ray versions (On the Audio CD version there are no visuals). Because of this, any tracks I may mention below have no chance of spoiling the experience. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way... If you have been under a rock for the past half year or somewhere outside the video game world, then you may not have realized that Square Enix has released a new Final Fantasy game called Final Fantasy XV. Recently however, Square Enix opened up the ability to order the soundtrack online and in three different versions:
1) Standard Edition - Audio CD - $39.99 USD (Wait List)
Over 80 audio tracks that are spread across 4 discs. This version does not include any videos (I'll touch on that here next).
2) Standard Edition - Blu Ray - $59.99 USD (Available)
The entire soundtrack found in the Standard Edition Audio CD but with Blu Ray images and graphics to accompany the music. Includes MP3 files so that you can play them on a portable music device (This is a Japanese import soundtrack disc, make sure your drive can read Blu Ray discs from that region)
3) Limited Edition Blu Ray - First Run Edition $109.99 USD (Wait List)
This version is the only version that includes the theme song "Stand by Me" along with behind the scenes of the recording session in Boston.
A bonus disc that includes 6 tracks selected from the original Final Fantasy XV 96 track soundtrack and given a "Piano Arrangement" treatment to them.
Another bonus disc that includes every single soundtrack library ever released for a Final Fantasy game. Over 250 tracks (over 15 hours of music) that span the entire life of the Final Fantasy series. Easily the largest collection of music to ever be released for a video game.
A special booklet that offers an interview with the composer (which I couldn't read because I have no clue on how to read Japanese), along with a tracklist of all 96 tunes.
Clearly if you can swing it, the Limited Edition is the way to go, and thanks to the quick thinking of your humble correspondent here, the Limited Edition is what I will be going into detail about today! The box itself is pure elegance. No writing or symbols or anything drawn onto any side, nothing to indicate that it's containing a mammoth trove of incredible music inside. It's completely minimal. The box is divided into 2 halves, one is a pure gloss black and the other is a matte black. When you split the halves apart you'll find this beautiful art book which acts as a tracklist and offers up an interview in Japanese with the composer. While I couldn't read the interview, the artwork on the booklet itself was incredibly beautiful.
Next you'll find the main soundtrack to Final Fantasy XV in an elongated flip cover. Then lastly you will find a double packed CD sleeve with both bonus CD's individually packaged. So with over 20 hours of music ahead of me I stocked up on some sustenance, opened up this amazing booklet with this truly breathtaking artwork, and cranked my Klipsch home theater and braced myself for the emotional ride I was about to take.
Some stories are told with pictures and images, others with pen and parchment, and still even some are told through music and song. Final Fantasy has been known for decades as a gaming series that will take you on an emotional roller coaster of a story, filled with highs and lows with some surprises sprinkled here and there for added punch. However, as the series has seen a sharp decline in quality of the story itself, Final Fantasy XV has become a phoenix of the series, and from the ashes of the trash that fell after Final Fantasy 9 (I'm one of those who believe that Final Fantasy's golden years came with 7, 8, and 9), has resurrected itself into the skies above ablaze with a golden fire.
While a quality story will play at your heart and your mind and deliver a truly memorable tale, the music that accompanies it will haunt your very soul. A quality musical score will instantly transport you to the point where you're back in your experience where you can recall any and all activities and actions transpiring. I remember playing track 53 which is called Rodeo de Chocobo and I was could see my characters on the backs of those bright yellow birds as we ran through the country side. The tune is light and energetic which does a masterful job conveying the relationship to the emotions felt at that very moment.
Other great moments came when I would hear the summoning track as the Blu Ray would showcase the summoning sequences. There were multiple battles that were tearing through my team, yet when all hopes were lost, the divine would step in and through their power, assist you by vanquishing your foes. This intensive drive is capped by wondrous choir in a manner befitting a royal cathedral that is filled with singing angels. Then on the complete opposite end of the spectrum you have track number 11 called Safe Haven and is the music you hear whenever you enter a campsite. Filled with soft chords of stringed wonders, this tune envelops you with a calming aura that is a blessing in and of itself when you're finished with an intense daemon fight.
After witnessing the wide range of music on the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack I proceeded to pop in the bonus Piano Arrangement Audio CD, and here I found myself with only 6 tunes, but as soon as I hit play I realized that these tunes were handpicked for their emotional content as well as their ability to drive home that emotion to the listener. Having the Piano Collections of Final Fantasy I to X-2, I was pleased that there was more attention to quality of work showcased as opposed to cramming as many tracks as possible into one CD. From here I decided to play the other bonus disc and wow was my mind blown.
Throughout Final Fantasy XV you can buy soundtracks to play in your car that are previous soundtracks from all the Final Fantasy games in the series. Paying homage to where it all begin, I proceeded to hit play on track 1 of the original soundtrack to it all, Final Fantasy. The track titles were in Japanese, and finding the first track was rather trivial, but then, hearing the piano scale start to climb and descend I was transported back to my childhood and putting the NES cartridge into the console, and I was off on an adventure that I hoped would never come to an end. Navigating through the various other tunes such as Aeris's Theme from Final Fantasy VII, it literally brought me back to those times and places and that is what a soundtrack should do. After all these years I have but to hear one track and I'm whisked away to my childhood years and the experience is truly awe inspiring.
If you haven't played the game, go buy it, then buy the soundtrack (if you can find it) and get ready to relive your own adventure within your soul. This polarizing spectrum of music is what is needed more in our world today. Not just in video games, but in life in general. We as a humanity need to remember the fact that music is a universal language of emotion and passion. There were times when I felt a feeling of accomplishment. There were also times when I felt happiness and joy, also finding myself at times feeling sad. All these emotions and so many more are felt throughout the game and that is thanks to the story, but the soundtrack as well. This soundtrack is more than a compilation of various tracks just thrown together, but rather a sonic masterpiece of production. Composer Yoko Shimomura and Director Hajime Tabata have helped produce an absolutely phenomenal musical score that encapsulates a wide multitude of emotion which helps make Final Fantasy XV, in my opinion, in the top 5 greatest Final Fantasy games of all time.