2501 Masashi Hamauzu, who’s obviously very good in his own right, tries to be “faithful” to Uematsu in an overly literal way, and the end result doesn’t feel like either his distinctive style or Uematsu’s. (I also can’t remember a single piece from the OST off the top of my head except Uematsu’s ending song.)
I think I get what you didn’t like about VIIR’s music and don’t mean to refute that, but allow me to point out some actually pretty darn good Hamauzu tracks you might have missed or forgotten about, which I think do showcase his composition and arrangement style pretty well.
Avalanche’s Theme | Moonlight Thievery | Whispers’ Theme | Target: Mako Reactor 5
Aerith & Marlene - A Familiar Flower (used during the cutscene when Aerith rescues Marlene from the burning Seventh Heaven—quotes the Uematsu theme but with some more interesting textures and a complementary, new violin theme)
Return to the Planet | A Broken World | Infinity’s End | Solemn Sunset (xhekros linked this one already)
Also worth pointing out he only arranged the tracks he composed (or co-composed with Uematsu) and composed about 33 out of 156 tracks, which is only 22% of the total (not including jukebox remixes).
hmmm…. on second thought captain i should put some hamauzu soundtrack on here, instead of…