Music has been part of human’s life from the prehistoric eras and probably will stay with us forever and it is part of everyone’s life.
Music creates emotion and could be purely used to deepen certain aspect of human’s perception – while watching TV commercials, attending an important event, watching a movie or playing a game. In the aspect of this article I would focus solely on music in the gaming industry. I will have a look about its evolution and will emphasize on later trends of modern gaming soundtracks from last decade.
I am a huge fan of classic, new-age, soundtrack and neo orchestral music – Enya, Enigma, Two steps from hell, Thomas Bergersen, Immediate Music, Arcadia or Audiomachine for example. This list could continue into infinity for sure, but names like Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Jeremy Soule, Michael McCann, Greg Edmonson, Michael Hoenig, Matt Uelmen and Jason Hayes could not simply be missed. List continues for sure, I simply could not write down every single name, which should be mentioned, but it holds most of the notable names in the industry.
Video games were ‘born’ as a form of entertainment in the late 70s’. Music in the early gaming generation consisted mostly of synthesized monophonic melodies constantly looping and used just as a simple background for the arcade games. Some notable examples of this era are games like Pac-Man, Space Invaders or Frogger. Quality rose in the coming years, most notably in the mid and late 80s’ with the launch of Amiga (the family personal computers by Commodore). The development into 16 bit era brought the change in the face of the hybrid sample and tone music and with time evolved in the MIDI standard on the PC. With the swift PC and console evolution in the upcoming years storage space grew significantly which made possible independent game soundtracks to be stored on floppy discs and later CDs/DVDs in the mid/late 90’s. The typical looping video game music, which lacked lyrics and had three tones limit, evolved into a substantive genre along with movie soundtrack music. It was the time when most notable names in the industry made their first steps and wrote their names in the history.
Nowadays game soundtracks are an integral part of any game. As stated above, music deepens perception and brings emotions to live. Because, to some extend games turned into virtual movies, in which the gamer is the main protagonist, director, scriptwriter or all of the above.
This could be the reason that the games I liked the most in the recent years have also some of the best soundtracks. I often find myself listening to a certain soundtrack as a background or while working and also have some loaded on my phone for when I travel. The list below consists of most of them and I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. I only must say that they are not arranged of most to least favoured as I like them equally and am used to listed to them when I am in that mood.
1). Deus Ex – Human Revolution (by Michael McCann):
My favourite game of 2011 and still in my top 3 list of all times. I really could not imagine better fitting soundtrack. It captures every emotion I felt while playing. Game is brilliant and so is the music. A true masterpiece by a great artist. Music is dynamic, intense, remarkable and memorable. It could not be simply described with words – it must be heard and experienced.
2). Assassin’s Creed 2 (by Jesper Kyd):
I can’t remember any other game which engulfed me in its atmosphere as Assassin’s Creed 2 – thick plotline in Italian Renaissance, memorable characters and one of the best written protagonists to date acclaimed as Best Character from several review medias. I was so sucked of this game that it eventually turned to be my first PS3 game in which I got a platinum trophy.
3). World of Warcraft (by Jason Hayes, Tracy W. Bush, Derek Duke, Glenn Stafford):
(As the game has already several expansions I could not bring myself to add all of the songs, so here is one of my all favourites, although from the worst expansion in my humble opinion)
My all time favourite game! There is no other game I have played for straight 4 years, which sucked me in for thousands of hours, which was the reason for me and my real-life friends to fly thousands of kilometers just to meet our in-game friends from all over Europe (/wave and /hug to all you guys, we miss you!). World of Warcraft will always have a very special place in my heart.
4). Dragon Age: Origins (by Inon Zur):
The game, which made me leave World of Warcraft for couple of weeks when I was most hooked. Bioware in its finest.
5). The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (by Jeremy Soule):
I know I already mentioned The Elder Scrolls couple of times in my posts, which my sound as I am set pretty negative against the series, but it is not the case. They have their flows and may be Skyrim would be one of favourite games of all time, if I wasn’t stupid enough to get it for the PS3. I won’t spoil this post with any negatives of the outcome, but because of its PS3 issues, game is still waiting for the better patch from Bethesda, so I could return to the land of the Nords.
I assume the list could go on for ages – there are so many great game songs and soundtracks, which could not be covered in one single post. If you are in the mood for such kind of music, don’t miss out soundtracks of the Uncharted series, Guild wars, Dragon’s Dogma, Journey, Zelda series, Red Dead Redemption, Brutal Legend, Heavy Rain.
Feel free to add in the comment box which is your all time favourite game soundtrack.