Despite not meeting sales targets, Free Radical Design's Second Sight was a highly creative game with its psychological storyline and defensive gameplay. In collaboration with Christian Marcussen, Graeme Norgate led the score for the title and took a very different approach from TimeSplitters and TimeSplitters 2. Whereas the TimeSplitters soundtracks are light-hearted, direct, diverse, and entertaining, this soundtrack is dark, subtle, consistent, and not always entertaining...
Norgate establishes the psychological focus of the score with "Isolation". The composer penetrates the minds of listeners with some simple piano lines that repeat in a metronomic manner. Yet when presented in conjunction with a deep quasi-orchestral backing, the effect is as horrifing as it is soothing. Norgate samples and mixes the diverse forces in such a mature way that the composition remains affecting throughout. The final result is a fascinating depiction of the depth and possibilities of the human mind. Norgate maintains this subtle yet provocative approach throughout the rest of the soundtrack, right up to the reprise of the opening ideas in "Redemption".
That said, most tracks on the soundtrack take more of an ambient route, portraying scenes more than psychology. For example, "Madness" and "Entrapped" portray dark mysterious environments using atmospheric beats and aleatoric noise. While this Vangelis-influenced approach is nothing new, the development and sampling is often breathtaking. Other tracks such as "Street Life" and "Breakout" are subtly stimulating with their drum 'n' bass influence and reject cinematic influences altogether. While most of these are impressively implemented, Norgate sometimes overstretches his limited resources on the soundtrack, particularly "Conspiracy" where orchestra recordings would have been effective or "Madness" with its reliance on overly familiar libraries.
Furthermore, the consistent focus on dark music here can be detrimental to the stand-alone experience. As these elements comprise the core of Second Sight, not much of a dramatic arch is established, in contrast to Goldeneye where Norgate used similar music only at critical moments. What's more, the ambient focus can result in a homogenous sound for the score that can lose listeners, particularly in more mundane tracks such as "Rescue" and "madness". There are remarkable dramatic moments, for example the spellbinding choral chants of "Experimentation" or the vigorous climactic runs of "Reliance", but they are too occasional to make a major impact on the soundtrack.
Overall, Second Sight is an impressive experiment by Graeme Norgate. The composer clearly captures the psychological focus, haunting environments, and infiltration gameplay of the title with his dark ambient soundscapes. Yet while most compositions are in some way emotional or fascinating, they are collectively a little too similar for stand-alone listening. Nevertheless, this soundtrack is available for free through the composer's official website and should still be a worthwhile listen.