Top 10 Game Soundtracks
Music and Games
In their genesis no one could have conceived that one day the gaming industry would become such an industry to rival Hollywood movies. Teams of hundred pour millions of dollars/pounds etc, to make a gaming concept a reality. Developers, artists and programmers dedicate hundreds of man hours to achieve a fun, thrilling and in many cases dramatic experience.
One such department that has grown considerably over the years is the music for games. Many were usually content with hearing a looped track of simple beeps and bloops that formed a simple melody, but now a typical hardcore gamer can expect to hear a sweeping masterpiece by composers like Hans Zimmer or Steve Jablonsky.
Now I'm paying tribute to those I believe to be the best. This is Top 10 Game Soundtracks!
10) Rome: Total War by Jeff van Dyke
The game of Rome: Total War is by it's very nature epic and so is the soundtrack. To capture the harsh conditions of ancient war and the fury of battle as well as emotions involved is no easy task. To accomplish all of this composer Jeff van Dyke employed ground shaking drum beats, Latin choir and even an assembly of eastern wind instruments. The result is an incredible, blood pumping, heart souring masterpiece that makes a player feel as if they truly are commanding hundreds of legions across the Earth to serve the glory of Rome.
Jeff van Dyke also gains great his spot on this list for the beautifully written and performed end credits song: Forever sung by Angela van Dyke. It flawlessly captures all of the traits I listed before: harshness, glory, sorrow, hope, sadness. The song also mixes in a number of electronics to make the beat of the song fast, but still with instrumental to keep the emotions conveyed by the lyrics intact. Truly a must buy.
9) COD: Modern Warfare 2 by Hans Zimmer
Hans Zimmer has long been established as one of the best action movie composers in recent history and so when he took to composing the most successful FPS series in history it had to be good. It was better than good. Hans Zimmer's work on Modern Warfare 2 is not only one of the best game soundtracks, but some of the composer's finest work.
Once again Modern Warfare is one of those games that rivals blockbuster movies in both actions and character investment (although honestly I think maybe Michael Bay should be taking notes from these guys). Zimmer's score is one that gets you pumped for some action and does well to reinforce the surprising character development and complex story. Non gamers would think of Modern Warfare as a simple "shoot stuff for points" game and ignore the quality writing involved. The score is what brings this emotion and investment to the forefront which is a difficult task to accomplish for such a "simple" type of game.
8) GTA: Vice City - V Rock
Each Grand Theft Auto game has it's distinctive theme, but some of the most memorable tracks come from the various radio stations you can listen while cruising and shooting. I think most would agree that while San Andreas is the stronger game, Vice City had the best radio station in the form of V- Rock hosted by Lazlo. Being set in the 1980s, V- Rock gave us some of the best old school metal for us fans to rock out too.
We had Judas Priest, David Lee Roth, Autograph, Megadeth and a hole wealth of retro greatness. Not only will it keep the older generation dizzy with bursts of nostalgia, but also show the new generation what all the fuss was about. Not only a great game soundtrack, but a great playlist of rock music.
7) Fallout 3 by Ion Tsur/Various
Fallout 3's post nuclear apocalypse wasteland was a prime platform to engage players in a wide range of bizarre and scary stories. However while wondering the wastes we found ourselves becoming addicted to Galaxy News Radio hosted by 3 Dog. To comfort us as we shot down Blowflys and fought off raiders it was a common occurrence to end up bobbing one's head to an array of 1930s/40s club songs and show tunes.
As if the theme - I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire by the Ink Spots - wasn't made curiously unsettling in post apocalypse America, Galaxy News Radio also provided classics such as Anything Goes by Cole Porter and Civilisation by The Andrew Sisters.This combined with a mimimul, but impactful score by Ion Tsur, Fallout 3's soundtrack is both somehow creepy and yet upbeat.
6) Timesplitters 2 by Graeme Norgate
Timesplitters 2 seems to be one of those uncelebrated classics: everyone remembers it but barely anyone mentions it anymore. When they do they almost always mention the kick ass soundtrack. Timesplitters 2 takes gamers from the Wild West to Neo-Tokyo and the range of music is just as wide. Every time period is captured beautifully, but continues to possess its own overall style.
The electro beats of our main character's time frame remarkably fits alongside the steel guitars of the wild west and 30s club band of Chicago gangsters. Few soundtracks - not just in games - achieve such a range of genre blending and still be cohesive to the narrative of the story.
Timesplitters 2 may be in danger of being lost as a game, but the soundtrack is still just as badass.
P.S Why haven't they made of movie adaptation of this series yet? It could be one of those movies with a bunch of different directors for each specific time frame etc. It could be awesome!
5) Guild Wars 2 by Jeremy Soule
This one is plane and simple: this music score is as beautiful as it is epic. With such an awe inspiring fantasy realm as Guild Wars 2, Jeremy Soule was the only choice to make the music live up to the world. While journeying across the land of Tyria a player will become even more immersed into the world by the romantic melodies and jump up in patriotism when each race's own theme kicks in during quests (the Norn theme is my personal favourite).
Much like Rome: Total War, Guild Wars 2 also features a song performed by a female singer for the end credits. In this case I refer to Fear Not This Night performed by Finnish singer Asja. The lyrics are poetic, the instrumental breathtaking and Asja's vocal range is simply jaw dropping. The soundtrack is worth buying for this song alone.
4) The Halo franchise by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori
This is an obvious choice. Halo was one of the first games to showcase how far games have come and one of the best parts of the franchise is still the soundtrack. Not only was it one of the first large orchestral soundtracks, but its also a soundtrack with a very distinct style. The drums, wind instruments and epic strings contribute to one of the most famous soundtracks out there.
What makes it so distinct is the juxtaposition of the tribal like beats scoring a sci - fi action adventure story and yet it somehow it fits beautifully. We're also given a great rock guitar cover of the original theme in the second game which is a blast. The score to each game is so good that I simply couldn't narrow it down to one game. If you haven't listened to the soundtrack or played the games then...what are you doing with your life?
3) Gears of War Trilogy by Steve Jablonsky
I know I'm picking a series of games again, but it was just too tough to narrow down. Composer Steve Jablonsky created a dramatic, chaotic and bad ass score for a bad ass game series. The rollercoster ride that is the Gears of War Trilogy is perfectly represented by its music. In fact the soundtrack alone can convey the emotions of every character by itself with no visuals needed.
The track Armoured Prayer will have you ready to charge into battle while With Sympathy will have you struggling to hold back the tears. This is a soundtrack were just explaining it won't do it justice. Really the only thing I can say is....Buy It! Buy It! Buy It! Buy It!....
2) Skyrim by Jeremy Soule
There was a reason that the makers of Guild Wars 2 recruited Jeremy Soule for their game and that reason was Skyrim! The overall score is amazing on its own, but in all honesty everyone loves this soundtrack simply for the main theme tune. Epic earth shattering drums combined with a plethora of male operatic choir and this track instantly transports you to the world of the Elder Scrolls. The ancient Norse lyrics - which are surprisingly catchy - result in you pounding your chest along to it and fills you with the courage to take on a dragon face to face.
The angelic melodies that play when roaming the land are also great pieces as well, but in the end everyone sings along to Dovahkin because they're Dovah-keen :) Sorry that was terrible.
1) The Mass Effect Trilogy by Jack Wall, Sam Hulick, Sascha Dikiciyan and Cris Velasco
And finally my number 1 pick is another cheat - kind of. I'm going to be honest here and say that I put this one on the top spot because the game franchise itself is on my top spot. The Mass Effect Trilogy quickly shot to my number 1 favourite game franchise of all time, but for good reason: Mass Effect has one of the richest, best written and visually impressive RPG universes I have every seen and some of my favourite characters in all of fiction.
So it also follows that the Mass Effect Trilogy has my favourite game soundtrack. It's a fantastic blend of traditional orchestra and electronics with contributions from the great band Faunts. The theme tune captures all of the heroism, sacrifice and nobility portrayed in the game story and tracks such as An End Once and For All will make any tough guy turn on the water works.
A brilliant and stunning soundtrack for a brilliant and stunning games series. Oh and while the ending to ME3 may not be great - even with the extended cut DLC - the soundtrack remains just as fantastic all the way through.