Being a fan of music (and being rubbish at playing music myself), I do appreciate a good video game soundtrack. A form of music that’s simply gotten better since the days of Alex Kidd in Miracle World (go on, hum the theme tune. You know you want to).
So here I am, I suppose. With a love letter to some aural pleasure that -unless you were a gamer in the 2000’s and the games usually just had an audio CD portion, you’re probably going to have to download.
As usual with any lists on here, these aren’t in any specific order. They just equal up to eight and at the risk of my non-journalistic integrity, that’s good enough for me.
1) Quake II (Sonic Mayhem)
Given my almost-obsession with Nine Inch Nails, you’d think I’d pick the Original Quake over the sequel. But nope. Here we are, with the first soundtrack I ever headbanged to. It’s all a very driving metal affair that aided my appreciation for good game music in general. I even learned two of the tracks on guitar, which sounded like crap in comparison to the real deal and I promptly gave up in favour of just ripping the tracks onto my iPod.
Standout track: Quad Machine.
2) Turok 2: Seeds of Evil (Darren Mitchell)
Ah, back in the days of yore where there were dinosaurs and you shot at them. I loved Turok 2, even though I was phenomenally rubbish at it and I didn’t’ quite understand the hub-based gameplay. The soundtrack was great, too. Standout here being the Port of Adia (admittedly, I never got past the first few levels. But the other tracks are also worth a listen)
3) EvE Online (John Hallur)
EvE as a game is a strange beast. Equal parts faffing around in a spaceship and faffing around with red tape or mining. I enjoyed it in a way, but again, was a game I was rubbish at. John Hallur creates a soundtrack for EvE that completely captures the feeling of drifting in space, fighting off space-pirates, and …*groan* mining for fucking Veldspar. I enjoyed the hell out of the OST to the point that I’d just play it over the top of Mass Effect.
Standout track here is Nouvelle Rouvenor Hero.
4) Final Fantasy X (Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Manauzu, Junya Nakano)
This is where I’ll probably be shot and killed by rabid Final Fantasy VII fans because saying anything but that bloody game in the series is on the same level as saying “the Jews had it coming”. But I’m willing to take one for the team.
To be honest, a Final Fantasy soundtrack I haven’t liked is a rarity. It’s one of the few reasons I keep buying into Squeenix’s cash-cow. So why FFX in particular? I feel it had a far wider and much more fuller soundtrack compared to it’s predecessors. Not just on a technical level, but in terms of instrumentation. Plus it felt more -for lack of a better term, ‘at home’ here. With some notable exceptions tracks-wise, the others just felt you could plonk any old game in front of it and it’d still work.
Standout track: Besaid Island
5) Halo (Martin O’Donnell, Michael Salvatori)
Like any good sci-fi, Halo has a very distinct theme whose motifs tend to carry on throughout the rest of the music. Granted, it’s not the most amazing thing you’ll ever hear but I appreciate what’s going on here nonetheless. It’s subtle when it needs to be and gets the adrenalin pumping when you’re shooting Covenant in the face.
Standout track: Perchance to Dream
6) Brutal Legend (Peter McConnell)
I’m cheating slightly here because not only does Brutal Legend have it’s own score, but an absolute slew of heavy metal/hard rock music complimenting the score and the game itself. For the sake of consistency, I’ll talk about the score. McConnell does what he does best here and compliments all the guitar solos and screaming with a subtle, if not almost serene score, easily listenable on its own.
Standout track: Blades of Serenity
7) Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon (Power Glove)
Oh, the 80’s. Home to many an overly-patriotic action movie where the protagonist (usually played by Stallone or Schwarzenegger) does everything but blatantly bellow “‘MURICA!” at the end, followed by a corny freeze-frame. Blood Dragon took all those movies and put them into a standalone add-on which I loved to the very end. The soundtrack is as equally 80’s, thanks to Power Glove. And ranges from synth-tastic anthems to terminator-esque driving action tracks.
Standout track: Warzone
8) Jade Empire (Jack Wall)
Ask me of my opinion of Jade Empire and I go into a babbling fit, trying to tell you how amazingly awesome it is. Seriously. That’s all you need to know.
Standout Track: Hills and Fields/Dance of the Babbling Brook