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Final Fantasy XV at Abbey Road Studios

Review by Katie Tarrant

Edited by Alyx Jones

Final Fantasy has an incredible history. With a lifetime currently spanning almost 30 years and over 100 million sales, it stands as one of the most successful franchises of all time. The 29th of November will see the release of Final Fantasy’s latest installment, Final Fantasy XV. The 15th instalment will come with a whole new plot, characters and a brand new soundtrack. This time, FFXV’s soundtrack is the artistic creation of notorious female composer Yoko Shimomura. Yoko has had an illustrious career with her newest credit for FF being added to her pile of Kingdom Hearts, Street Fighter and Mario & Luigi.

As promotion for the game’s upcoming release, Abbey Road Studios hosted an exclusive event that I was fortunate enough to attend. The event featured the stunning London Philharmonic Orchestra, gathered to perform an hour’s worth of music from FFXV’s soundtrack, including Noctis which had never been showcased before. The set list for the performance was perfectly executed, featuring emotion, diversity, tension and pure passion. The full set list featured Songs of the Stars/Dawn, Fight Fantastica, Nox Aeterna, Luna, End of the Road, Wonderful View, Starlit Waltz, Noctis, Omnis Lacrima, Veiled Aggression, Somnus and finally Apocalypsis Noctis (featuring a performance from Yoko herself).

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Due to the size of Abbey Road itself, the event had a miniscule capacity but the resulting intimacy allowed for a dynamic I had never yet experienced at a live event. The performance was live streamed over the Final Fantasy XV YouTube channel to ensure that the thousands of FF fans could still enjoy the show without needing to be present.

Yoko Shimomura herself took part in several Q&A snippets in between every few songs and it was wonderful to see how evidently proud she was of the music she had written and how pleased she seemed to have been there having it played by such a talented orchestra. The Q&A covered various grounds, including Yoko’s thought processes for creating music for certain characters etc. With a huge back catalogue for FF’s music, it is inevitable for composers to feel a need to pay tribute to the music that has gone before. However, Yoko seemed to break the mould with her soundtrack, spawning something that echoes its predecessors yet stands fiercely independent, too. It seems to be an apt decision, reflecting the departure the game itself has taken from its predecessors, featuring a darker atmosphere and stronger sense of realism.

The concert was an hour in duration which felt mildly on the short side, but was still packed with enough energy and excitement to make for a fantastic live experience. It was also followed by a small food and drinks affair afterwards in which people could share their interests and socialise with fellow fans, as well as the phenomenal members of the London Philharmonic. Overall, a unique affair that I was honoured to attend and I certainly left Abbey Road feeling hyped about XV’s release and also, as a fellow female composer, incredibly inspired to see such a pioneering force in the flesh. A momentous evening!

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Katie Tarrant
Katie is a sound designer and composer currently working for Rare on Sea of Thieves. She graduated with a First Class Honours in music from Sir Paul McCartney's Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts in 2016. A lover of music from a young age, she is also a guitarist, bassist, and drummer. In 2016, she was the first ever recipient of UK Music's 'Outstanding Contribution to Music' graduate award, and honoured the following year to receive King and Diversi's scholarship to attend the Game Developer's Conference 2017. Most recently, she was nominated at one of Games Industry Biz's Top 100 Future Talent. Some of her favourite games include Bioshock, Overwatch, Life Is Strange, Uncharted, Fallout, and many more.

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