“It’s a new world Adam, they’re afraid of people like us…”
From Indie games showcasing a particular art style, to the gut-wrenching masterpiece of a story found in Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us; video games have always been a very expressive art form, showcasing some of the best creative minds that the industry has to offer. Polar to gameplay or art design however is the glue that usually holds it all together: an absolutely kick ass and stellar soundtrack (Mass Effect 2’s Suicide Mission theme is the textbook definition of badass). The collective here over at Game Hype have recently been pondering, primarily on our favourite video game soundtracks over the years of our respective gaming careers. So sit back dear reader, and the guys (and lass) over at Game Hype recount the times that music made a particular video game all the more sweeter…
Kyle Doherty (@Antigenetic92)
Game(s): Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Composer: Michael McCann
From the haunting and tragic score from Akira Yamaoka’s Silent Hill 2 OST, to the stoically badass Metal Gear Solid 2 theme from Harry Gregson-Williams and Norihiko Hibino in 2001; this one was a tough one for me, as many games over the years have had music that has resonated with me on a deeper level than thought possible. While there have been numerous soundtracks that have exemplified my favourite titles over the years, there was one composer whose opening scores set-up the both the theme and tone for the games that followed; I speak of course of Michael McCann and the exemplary work he produced for Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Being closely related to the Cyberpunk sub-genre of Sci-Fi, Deus Ex has always dealt with the theme of being ‘beyond human’ with the underlying focus of both reboots being society’s reaction to cybernetically-enhanced (augmented) citizens and the proliferation of said technology reaching dangerous levels within everyday life. To match it’s already dystopian aesthetic of the future, both of the recent Deus Ex games needed a soundtrack that was capable of conveying the impact and weight of the game’s plethora of contrasting themes, while sticking the overarching theme of duality when it comes to Transhumanism. Michael McCann’s stellar work was inspired by the likes of Jerry Goldsmith and Vangelis (the score from 1982’s Blade Runner is nothing short of phenomenal) and allowed the artist to convey a level of raw emotion into the score that made it all the more personal. In my opinion, the opening themes of both Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided represent the apex of gaming soundtracks, and are reason enough to go out and buy both titles; you won’t be disappointed.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Opening Credits
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – Opening Credits
Adam O’Connell (mynameisfrog_GH)
Game: Final Fantasy X
Composer(s): Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu, Junya Nakano
I could probably write an entire article on Nobuo Uematsu’s body of work in the Final Fantasy series (in fact I might just do that at some point cause honestly who’s gonna stop me?), but in my opinion the best work he’s ever produced is when he branched out for the first time and collaborated with other composers in the legendary Final Fantasy X. In a time where music in a game didn’t really matter all that much to 12 year old me, FFX’s score implanted itself into my brain and has resided there ever since. From the serene, tranquillizing, piano-driven introduction ‘To Zanarkand’, its heroic battle theme, the ominous ‘Hymn of the Fayth’ to a full-on beast of a metal track in ‘Otherworld’. Each track seems like it is perfectly crafted for every room, person, and circumstance. Yes, some scores may be recycled throughout the game, but when they reappear they do so at the most perfect and appropriate moments; as well as the musical splendors that only seldom appear, or just once like Seymour’s boss theme, ‘Challenge’ or the romantically gorgeous ‘Suteki Da Ne’ all have a massive impact on the gameplay and story, and act as an amazing obbligato to some of the most incredible moments in the entirety of Final Fantasy’s lifespan, and it only gets better in the HD Remaster.
Also mad shout out to ‘The Best is yet to come’ especially when it starts playing when you get to Shadow Moses in MGS4. Big feels, BIIIIIIIIIIIIIG FEELS!
Aaron Moger (@aaronvaanmoger)
Composer: Noriyuki Iwadare
Grandia is an epic game of epic proportions. This game has made the biggest impact on my life not just for its captivating story, but for its amazing soundtrack. Seriously the soundtrack to Grandia I can easily rate the highest from any game I have ever played, and I have played many games with entirely flawless soundtracks. Noriyuki who also worked previously with Game Arts as a composer on the Lunar series has also worked on more recent titles such as Phoenix Wright and Kid Icarus. His talent for soundtrack composure is noteworthy, especially so in Grandia. The opening theme is beyond words with how powerful it is and really has you thinking this game is going to be the biggest adventure ever (which it is). After the opening, you are then greeted with a moment of respite before another amazing track plays out showing some of the more lighthearted parts of Grandia itself. The aptly named theme Dungeon plays during Boss fights but also in some dungeons in the build-up to the end which really heightens the sense of danger at key points in the game. ‘Three Young Women’ is a silly, yet catchy theme that plays during the reoccurring encounters with the three Garlyle Soldiers that shows our heroes thwart their enemies plans despite their best efforts. ‘The Sandy Beach of Gumbo’ is a calming track of love; the love between two characters and the love shown that has been put into Grandia’s soundtrack. There is no doubt that the Grandia soundtrack is a masterpiece and one that I will always hold in the highest regard.
Game: Final Fantasy XIII-2
Composer: Mitsuto Suzuki
Yet another Final Fantasy title makes it into this article (Who wants to bet there will be another?) the less-than favourable Final Fantasy XIII series. Whilst not being critically well received for its un-orthodox and linear gameplay, it still had many positives, such as a badass lead character in Lightning and a story of intrigue, that always left you second guessing just where Lightning, Snow, and Serah would end up next. I have many soundtracks that I like on an equal measure to this (shout out to Besaid Island in FFX/FFX-2); so as I fired up the penultimate story arc in XIII-II, a beautiful coastal town, surrounded by nature and stunning views appeared on screen (in the early stages of the game). With an amazing soundtrack, that just made me feel like I was actually there, enjoying the sounds of the waves and the slow way of life. It made me feel a sense of happiness, but also longing to visit such a place of freedom, beauty, and charm. The theme of New Bodum is one that relaxes and inspires; all I need now is a Chocobo to run my errands and a few Moogle beers whilst I gaze at the magnificent sunset in the backdrop! (Ahhh bliss, now who wants to join me?).
Ryan Perrow (@NBFlying)
Game: Halo Franchise
Composer(s): Martin O’Donnell, Michael Salvatori
So when Kyle initially proposed this article, many a gaming theme leapt into my head. Many wonderful themes and soundtracks in the wider gaming landscape, but there’s really only one that stirs genuine emotion for myself: Halo. The music from the Halo franchise is simply iconic, especially as the series has been with us for quite a while now, and I’m still as in love with the franchise and it’s respective universe as I was back in 2001. A huge part of that admiration comes from the music, especially in the case of the main theme; the way it builds up and the drums kick in, it just screams action-packed adventure. Throughout Halo, perfectly timed musical cues pop up to enhance every moment of gameplay and narrative; however for me, two tracks stand above all others: ‘Unforgotten’ and ‘One Final Effort’. ‘Unforgotten’ originally featured in Halo 2 and it’s slow melancholy lingering notes perfectly bring to mind the tragedy of the Human-Covenant War, while the beautiful piano progression over the top gives a sense of hope that not all is lost. The main reason this track means so much to me is actually Halo 3. ‘Unforgotten’ was the theme played over the main menu of Halo 3 (until Mythic at least). I spent an insane amount of hours playing Halo 3 (Thanks to the MCC I still do) and every time I booted up the game, there was ‘Unforgotten’. Once the main story had been finished (Solo Legendary for my first playthrough as per Halo tradition) ‘Unforgotten’ would become the theme guarding my gateway to what is still my favourite online multi-player experience. Every game of Oddball, Big Team Battle or whatever madness the Halo community had dreamed up in the Forge started with ‘Unforgotten’. So when I hear this track, it’s not just amazingly composed, it represents hours of invested time in a campaign and universe that gripped me like nothing has since. The time spent making new friends and being responsible for memories that ‘we’ still talk about today.
Now where ‘Unforgotten’ has many memories tied to it, ‘One Final Effort’ is simply a joy to listen to and is tied to just one Halo memory. The Covenant, not the theocratic hegemony itself, but the level in Halo 3. Without going into too much detail about the level itself, it’s my belief that it contains perfect examples of everything that makes the Halo franchise downright incredible. Those piano chords suddenly striking out over the bass filled hum perfectly encapsulate the drama and struggle of the 3 game long battle with the Covenant and the sacrifices made by humanity, Master Chief and Cortana during the conflict. They gently give way to the main theme of Halo 3, which in itself is built from the main Halo theme from Combat Evolved, tweaked just enough to make it it’s own. It’s the perfect marriage of music and gameplay, such epic music is needed, what else could accompany battling TWO scarabs and finally silencing the Prophet of Truth!
Adam Neaves (@adamneaves)
Game: Final Fantasy X
Composer(s): Nobuo Uematsu, Masashi Hamauzu, Junya Nakano
Another vote for Final Fantasy X? Yes. That’s not being complacent by the way! Final Fantasy X as a whole got me into the RPG genre. From start to finish, I was swept away by the fascinating sound score that represented one of, if not the finest Final Fantasy games of all time. I was around 14 at the time of release and the soundtrack just seemed to connect with me so much. If you have listened to the ‘Song of Prayer’ and not had it stuck in your mind for weeks to go, humming it down the street, I’ll be calling you a liar right now! Also, that famous Yuna and Tidus song, ‘Suteki da ne’ is a joy to listen to. Even in Japanese, it still remains one of my favourite songs to listen to of all time.
Daniel Scott (@TheDanielScott)
Game: Dark Chronicle/Dark Cloud 2
Composer(s): Tomohito Nishiura
Still in my top three favourite games of all time is the music to Dark Chronicle; the soundtrack brings back memories and fits the tones of the game perfectly.