Metal Gear Solid’s Composer Talks About Scoring Games
By now, many Metal Gear fans will have already sunk a good amount of time into Metal Gear Solid 4. The game was scored by Harry Gregson-Williams, who also scored Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3, as well as movies like Shrek, Man on Fire, and Team America: World Police. (That last one gets him an instant thumbs-up from me.) Gregson-Williams spoke with 1UP recently about his work on the Metal Gear games, how the method for working on the series has evolved over time, and his interest in working on a potential Metal Gear film. (Here’s a hint: “I said I’d be right pissed if [Hideo Kojima] didn’t consider me.”)
How does writing a score for a game differ from a movie? I may be mistaken, but usually with a movie, you see a first cut before you start writing, correct?
Yeah. For instance, I’ve just started working on…I think it’s my eighth movie with [director] Tony Scott, and yeah, Tony hasn’t even finished shooting, and I’ve got what we call a “first assembly.” Lots of scenes are missing, and even the scenes that are there are probably a bit long and clunky, but the earlier you start in this process, the better chance you’ve got of getting it right.
The music for the Metal Gear games has always taken quite a long time, though. Not necessarily because the music was taking a long time to write, but because it’s spread out over a year. For this one, I would do a little bit of work, then it would go quiet from Japan for a few months, then they’d get back to me — they’d kind of be playing catch-up, since they’d be on to the next thing. Then they’d send me a little bit of footage, more descriptions, and I’d start chiseling away. Then, in the middle of that, there would be E3, and Hideo would bring a trailer to show people, and we’d get to meet. That’d be halfway through the “trip,” as it were, so it’d be on-off-on-off. I guess it’s just because it’s taken such a massive amount of time to make this game.
When asked if he’d work on future MGS games, he explained that he likely would if Kojima were heading up the project. Of course, if we take Kojima at his word, he won’t be directly involved in whatever the next Metal Gear game might be, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the next Metal Gear might end up with a different director and composer.
You can read the full interview at 1UP and check out an exclusive track from MGS4, titled “Love Theme.”