When publishers throw a bucket of pop culture over video games with a celebrity endorsement or musical crossover, we get a fascinating glimpse of just what they think of people who play games, and those they hope to attract. Heartfelt ones can end splendidly, like Quake’s soundtrack by Nine Inch Nails, but mostly they’re just confusing and a bit odd. Take Eminem dancing in front of CoD Ghosts trailers (with a single first released as a Ghosts pre-order bonus, because reasons), or Linkin Park singing over some Medal of Honor: Warfighter LARPing. Baffling.
You might not remember when Sierra called in Mötley Crüe for Tribes 2, because for some reason (common decency?), what was billed as “the year’s largest musical venture in the gaming industry” vanished almost entirely. Almost. Would you like to hear the once-lost theme song they recorded?
Even in 2000, the cock rockers were a decade past their prime, but Sierra treated this as a real coup. Mötley Crüe were creating guitar and drum loops for sound effects, writing a brand new song for the Tribes 2 soundtrack, and would lend it several songs from their next album, New Tattoo. Nikki Sixx and the gang themselves were due to appear in-game too, digitised as skins.
Such an event demands press. Nikki Sixx described their song in an IGN interview:
We watched videos of the game, and we set out to create music to match the energy of the game. And we wrote a song called Tribes that’s got this f*cking amazing guitar riff, and this big vocal hook, and Randy’s got this tribal drum thing. Now we’re going to dissect it and reconstruct it really f*cked-up so it’s really aggressive sounding. We’re excited because it’s Mötley Crüe, but it’s like Mötley Crüe on steroids.
Tribes 2 launched without a single wicked shred or leather harness. Sierra had clearly spent a pretty penny or two on this, thinking it’d appeal to Tribes fans and bring Crüe fans to Tribes, but they scrapped it. Perhaps it was money, perhaps it was contracts, perhaps they realised it was not good. Whatever the reason, all this was brushed under the carpet.
And then former GarageGames member and current indie Tim Aste stumbled across Mötley Crüe’s Tribes 2 theme song on a PC that’d come to Garage from Tribes creator Dynamix. I first heard it from him in 2012, but two years later, or even fourteen, it’s still worth dragging up to share.
These cultural crossovers and transmedia promotions are fascinating moments where someone tries to profile a game’s players. Which bands do they like? What’s their favourite film? How old are they? What do they eat? How do they dress? It is, of course, quite daft. These “I know what you like!” declarations may be vague hits with broad demographics but alienate the majority of people, who don’t eg like Mötley Crüe. Today I’m just as put off by the assumption that I’m into chiptune because I dig some of those there independent video games (the most upset I’ve ever been by toilet graffiti was finding, in a bar full of indie devs and games journos, “give chiptunes a chance“).
Look, I said I’d share the song. I didn’t want you to think I was simply pointing and mocking. Enjoy: