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The Soundtrack « Nitpixels

The Soundtrack



Frankly, a well scored game with a sophisticated soundtrack is infinitely better. Take the exact same game and replace the soundtrack with something inferior, some mix tape you have laying around, and you’ll see a difference immediately. Play the game with the sound off and take note. It really doesn’t matter what genre, the addition of a thematic score works to evoke whatever emotional content the game is attempting to create.  Some games, like EVE Online, put their soundtracks online for you to listen to them. Others can be purchased from iTunes or elsewhere.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Jack Wall is one of my favorite musicians, or that Russell Brower is the reason I enjoyed Starcraft II. (I’m not a big RTS player.) Quite frankly I believe the games industry is overtaking Hollywood as the home for talented composers to come and realize a symphonic musical vision. Games seem to require more orchestration, You can go back and listen to games that came out in the late 90’s and hear it. You can listen to Dead Space 2, or Halo Reach and see the unification of music with setting. The game design takes music and ambiance into account, and when done right, it’s unforgettable.

This leads me to wonder what you, the reader (yeah, you, guy with the towel on your head, I even mean you) would nominate as the best game soundtracks. I have my own votes, but I’ll leave that for a future post. For now, what game music made its way onto your MP3 player? What do you find yourself listening to outside the games you discovered it in?

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  • nonentity

    Ah yeah, soundtracks…. didn’t really concern myself a lot with them in the past, most games were not really impressive in that department.
    Recently that changed.
    ME2 has some FANTASTIC songs (Suicide Mission is my favorite and one of the most epic tunes I’ve heard in my life, easily able to compete with any movie score) and the Wrath Of The Lich King soundtrack blew me away, first time in WoW I had the music on regularly. Sadly the Cataclysm soundrack did not impress me as much. Nothing there can compair to the Grizzly Hills, Howling Fjord or Storm Peaks themes.

    Of course there are some old examples of awesome music, e.g. the Mortal Kombat theme, some Mario themes, some stuff from Final Fantasy, but none impressed me as much as the ME2 and Wotlk soundtracks.

    • nonentity

      Oh god, how could I forget, the Guild Wars Soundtrack. Also has a some fantastic pieces, my favorite – the Prophecies theme.

  • Shelmos

    Sometimes I actually find myself listening to video game music while I play other video games through Youtube.

    Halo Reach is definitely a game whose soundtrack stands out in my mind.

    Personally, a good soundtrack is a huge part of the game for me.

  • http://taufmonster.blogspot.com Henry

    I love Starcraft 2’s soundtrack as well.

    Portal 2’s soundtrack was also great, with it’s dynamically added features.

    I would also like to make mention of the soundtracks for the Pixeljunk Monsters, Eden, and Shooter (and their sequels).

  • http://twitter.com/orkchop Orkchop

    I also have to nominate the Wrath of the Lich King soundtrack. It was phenomenal and if you were lucky enough to get the Icecrown Citadel soundtrack at the last BlizzCon, it also has some great pieces. The Gunboats fight is nice and bombastic. The Crimson Halls section has a Lament of the Highborne theme in it, which I thought add more to the story telling than one might expect. The Cataclysm soundtrack has quite grabbed me the same way yet except for the Goblin theme and the amazing Nightsong that plays in parts of Hyjal.

    Even though I didn’t play the full version of the game, the Shank soundtrack was good, too. It has a very movie western feel and was interesting.

    I’ll always remember the original Dungeon Siege because the score had a definitive theme that really helped set the epic adventure feel.

    The Halo soundtracks, too, are something I listen to on their own. This is another one where when the theme starts up during gameplay, you know something awesome is about to happen.

    The ‘Splosion Man soundtrack to a great job of setting the pace. It also had a couple of silly songs that they eventually put out for Rock Band.

    I bought I MAED A GAME WITH ZOMB1ES IN IT because the soundtrack (err the song) was so awesome and asked me to (“It costs a dollar/ and I hop you will paayyy”). It’s a small silly game and the creator is singing to you about it. It really makes the game.

  • Pallais

    For me it is many of the classic game soundtracks. The early Ultimas with a Mockingboard on an Apple 2 (especially Stones) or the late 80s/early 90s IBM PCs games that used a Roland MT-32. While they don’t have a symphony behind them, their simple melodies are evocative in a way many newer games fail to capture. The opening music to Myst would be another example. You may have hated the game, but I bet you would recognize the music if you heard it.

    Jeremy Soule’s stuff is memorable for me. Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic, Dungeon Siege, Morrowind, and on.

    Oh, and Diablo 2. That music was good enough that Blizzard used it to introduce Diablo 3 at Blizzcon. How many games in this industry can be introduced *and* instantly recognized by its music?

  • GeekyGR

    I’m a sucker for some good soundtracks. I’m also a fan of JRPGs(almost exclusively those made by Atlus, put a Final Fantasy game made after 6 or any of those cut and paste generic RPGs in my console and watch me morph into a gremlin and scurry away), and say what you want about the gameplay and how it differs from what you consider “fun”, it’s hard to deny the greatness of a good portion of the tracks in my favorites. A few of my favorite composers are Shoji Meguro and Motoi Sakuraba. I’ve imported most of Shoji Meguro’s game soundtracks including his work on Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, Digital Devil Saga 1&2, and most of Persona. I’m still only listening to game rips of Strange Journey though. I also have quite a few Fire Emblem soundtracks, including a few orchestrated pieces.  

    I also can’t talk about good game soundtracks without mentioning anything Warcraft related. Leveling alts through Northrend is bearable to me partly because of how beautiful the music makes most of the zones feel. If the music wasn’t readily available in game by flying to the zone, I would own a soundtrack of the WotLK music.

  • Matt111991

    Two Steps from Hell is pretty amazing too, their song Heart of Courage was used in the Mass Effect 2 trailer and is incredible!