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Tom Clancy’s The Division Game Audio Review

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Reviewed by Katie Tarrant

Edited by Sam Hughes

Developer: Ubisoft Massive

Audio Director: Simon Koudriavtsev

Composer: Ola Strandh

Voice Actors: Brandon Keener, Kate Drummond, Melissa O’Neil, Patrick Garrow, Rob Stewart, Tony Nappo, Warona Setshwaelo and co.

Reviewed on: Xbox One

During his time, Tom Clancy has developed quite a name for himself amidst the game industry in a commendable voyage from author to game designer. Writing a series of fictional and non-fictional books before progressing to designing games, Clancy was notorious for enigmatic and in-depth military and espionage stories based in and around the Cold War. Sadly, on October 1, 2013, Tom Clancy passed away and his latest release The Division has been developed in his memory.

The Division’s story plays out in the midst of a crisis in Manhattan. Following Black Friday, a large collection of bank notes infested with small-pox are released throughout New York City, creating a pandemic and descending the city in to chaos. Manhattan is quarantined and ‘The Division’, a small team of U.S. government agents, are brought on to the Joint Task Force to aid the restoration of order.


Composed by Ola Strandh, the soundtrack perfects the creation of tension and suspense. It accurately reflects the fact that your players are in a serious situation, without taking the generic path of throwing in dramatic timpani and horns. The score itself seems to be a combination of synthesisers, delicate string sections and also general ambiences to create a varied and dynamic aural environment. It’s enough to get your heart beating a little faster but still subtle enough for you not feel overwhelmed or, more importantly, distracted.

A lot of thought has gone in to the score for The Division, Ola and his team certainly pulled out all of the stops in terms of creativity and innovation; something that can be said for the entirety of the staff working on this game. In a behind the scenes interview, Ola discussed their focus on how people return to their roots when society breaks down, and how that is reflected in the basis of the score, going back to traditional instruments and integrating those with abstract, spacious and synthesised environments. The result is a soundtrack that sits perfectly in the background, acting as a consistent pulse for what is going on whilst still succeeding in enhancing the emotion and impact of the game play.



For the Division, the music and sound design seem to go hand-in-hand, With the nature of the score leaving perfect room for it. Audio director Simon Koudriavtsev and Ola’s working relationship was clearly a strong basis for the degree to which the audio compliments its surroundings. Low eerie reverbs, synthesisers and post-effects form a lot of the underscore and this allows the sound design to blossom with it rather than battle against it.

In most first person shooters, the crux of the appeal is in the gun sounds. Are they realistic? Are they consistent? Do the reloads sound good? Thankfully, it’s no surprise that The Division features some stellar gun sounds. I’ve been overjoyed to find a game with pistols that not only do some justifiable damage, but sound like it too. The environmental destruction is also perfectly depicted. I couldn’t help but grin in delight as I shot through a car to hit an enemy and saw the window explode, the boot physically lift up and the car alarm start ringing out in to the distance.

Similarly to the game’s overall art and design, I have found that a lot of my appreciation of the game’s sound was in the craftsmanship behind them. Small effects like the sound of your heartbeat when your health is low are included, buy ativan 1mg like most games, but additional filter effects between your health being low and your character being incapacitated emphasises your disorientation when you go down. I also noticed other pockets of nerdy-satisfaction like the use of occlusion and obstruction reverbs, i.e. how sound is affected when you are behind a wall or in another room, on the other side of the street and so on. The audio team seem to have seriously delved in to, understood and implemented an accurate reflection of how audio behaves in a real-world environment and that coupled with the quality of the graphics make this game a truly sensational experience.


The voice acting for the game is another incredible asset. The realism of the acting and the level to which it enhances the quality of the game play is fantastic. I found myself absorbed in every cinematic and loved how that absorption never faltered. Regardless of what I was doing in game, be it hanging out at base, fulfilling a mission, exploring the surrounding city, I was always cognitively engaged in the realism of what was going on.

However, the quality of the dialogue does not just end at the main characters. The AI sound as real as they come. Communication between them is so much more than mere recordings of scripted lines and you can hear the development and alterations in the emotions of their voices as they, too, navigate the chaos of the pandemic. During combat, you can hear your NPC’s and the enemies shouting at one another and actually making realistic defensive and offensive choices. These details are what makes in-game combat feel like an actual fight amongst a group of people rather than just your character weaving through a bunch of programmed opponents.

Another thing that I felt made this game was the atmosphere of the Dark Zone. I always felt a genuine tension transitioning from the safety of my base to the realms of the Dark Zone and loved how accurately the audio team depicted the sound scape of that environment. Frequently, I would hear arguments, shouting, gun fire, explosions and much more as I weaved my way through but the thing that I adored was that it was not just standard background noise, those sounds were happening because actual gun fights and explosions were taking place in-game. The chaos is not restricted to the direct vicinity of your character. It goes on all around you, exactly as it would in real life, and that really helped to richen the immersion for me.


Overall, the game has been an absolute pleasure to play, primarily for its flawless attention to detail and such intense consideration of the finer elements. However, that also results in it being one of my most time-consuming games purely because I wander around looking at and listening to each environment so meticulously. My utmost respect to the Ubisoft team for raising the bar this high and ultimately making something that is as stunning to look at as it is enjoyable to play. Tom Clancy is dearly missed for many reasons, and I am always grateful for his inspiring contribution to the creative world.




Tom Clancy’s The Division











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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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