03 July 2012

Awesome PC game soundtracks

There's always talk about graphics, story and gameplay when PC games are discussed. I personally think that one cannot underestimate how much a really damn good soundtrack can do for an even mediocre game. And when the gameplay, story and graphics are all good, and combined with a kickass soundtrack, those game experiences tend to be quite spectacular from a quality standpoint.

Here are some games that I think benefited a lot from their soundtracks which greatly enhanced the gameplay. They are listed in no particular order.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution
An amazing soundtrack that included both atmospheric ambient music a really damn good theme song and had great location specific music. It had that dark futuristic sound that complimented the gameplay and the story perfectly.

Vampire the masquerade: Bloodlines This was my favorite soundtrack for a long time. Just like with Deus Ex: Human Revolution it combines great ambient sound with location specific songs. Exploring Santa Monica or LA during nighttime to the music this game provided was really immersive. All the clubs and important locations also had their own set of songs which enhanced the feeling of a dark/goth/vampire setting. It also included this hilarious GTA inspired female radio DJ called "Deb of night" which was always on (several radio episodes throughout the game) and took calls from random crazy listeners that were either morons or funnily enough told about events related to your game progress. The radio shows also included fake commercials which are laugh out loud funny.
Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness I really loved the Orc soundtrack for this game. Somehow it captured the mood of this game perfectly and added gravitas to the simple setup of building your base, collecting resources and sending your troops out to kill the enemy.
Starcraft + Brood War expansion This RTS game had not only an epic story spanning over 3 campaigns but also included som really damn good music. Both in-game soundtrack and the music used for the CGI cut scenes were truly great.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert Probably the most iconic track from the original C&C:Red Alert which has since then been included in all sequels in one shape or another.
Diablo 2 The creepy and atmospheric music from Diablo 1 was enhanced and expanded in the sequel and the soundtrack is one of the best out there to date. Setting out from the starting camp of the game and into the rainy fields slaughtering demons never felt so important as when accompanied by this soundtrack.
GTA: Vice City GTA 3 really introduced something great into the GTA series, radio stations. Now you could browse various channels in the game and listen in to music styles that you liked mixed with hilarious and silly fake commercials. This has worked really good in all the GTA games following GTA3 but perhaps the best example of how a good soundtrack can enhance the setting and add immersion is GTA: Vice City. This 80's themed game was packed with great music of the time and made cruising the streets of Vice City between missions a real joy.
Fallout (F1/F2/Tactics/F3/NV) I grew up with Fallou 1 & 2, and while I think Fallout 3 was dissapointing the series bounced back up with New Vegas. Still, all games (including Fallout Tactics) had truly great soundtracks that added a lot to the post apocalyptic travels you had to undertake across the wastelands of the US. The older games relied a lot more on creepy atmospheric soundtracks that truly made you feel like walking in a post apocalyptic wasteland full of death and decay. The most recent games (F3 / N.V.) included a lot more pompous orchestral music. Both add a lot of value to the gameplay and truly enhance the experience.
The Elder Scrolls (Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim) I got into the Elder Scrolls series back when TES III: Morrowind was released, to explore the weird landscapes and locations of the island of Morrowind accompanied by a the atmospheric and very fantasy sounding soundtrack made one of the best gaming experiences I've had. The intro song pulls you right into this RPG experience with its slow pacing which then turns into this epic sound towards the end. The Oblivion and Skyrim soundtracks are equally good and have a wide variety of ambient tracks for exploration mixed with fast paced tracks when battles are raging. The latter two are a bit more "epic" sounding while Morrowind was a more low key soundtrack which fit perfectly with the somber rainy and partially ash covered island you were exploring.
Myth 2: Soulblighter A direct sequel to Myth: The Fallen lords, it continued the story of this dystopic fantasy world telling about the underdog war of humanity against the undead and the vicious Myrkridia race. Myth 1 had a great story and gameplay, but Myth 2 had the far superior soundtrack which was used together with a great storyteller in the cutscenes explaining the events of the campaign and the dire situation of the human kingdoms.
Icewind Dale Being a more linear hack & slash oriented RPG experience compared to the more sophisticated and multilayered Baldurs Gate game, the first Icewind Dale had the edge of some truly great music.
Bioshock Did not care much for this game, mainly because I felt that the cartoony combat ruined an otherwise visually spectacular adventure and interesting plot. However the soundtrack was flawless and sounded like some kind of matine movie.
The Witcher (1&2) The Polish RPG game the Witcher appeared out of thin air and turned out to be one of the best fantasy RPG games in recent years. Both the original game and the sequel both awesome soundtracks which added an additional layer to the gaming experience when playing in this eastern European medieval inspired world of the Witcher.

7 comments:

  1. Wow, great post, some classics in there, Red alert (Hell March) is just awesome.

    Can't believe you missed out Mass Effect or Halo from the list though. Try Mass Effect 2 (http://youtu.be/VTsD2FjmLsw) or Halo 3 (http://youtu.be/q_pAa9252Uo) Hope those links work.

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  2. I never played any of the Mass Effect games, for some reason they never appealed to me (just like I never played any of the Knights of the Old Republic games).

    I played Halo 1 (and Halo 2) on my Xbox. The Halo music was quite good, the rest of the game was a bit too silly for me (cute bright colored aliens). If they had made Halo a bit more dark and bleak I would probably have liked it a lot more. It had fun multiplayer mode though.

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  3. To be honest I don't care much for the ME2 theme, it was just so unlike the first one (which is great) and just helped remind you that the game was now dumbed down to 'rpg light'.

    Personally think that the Dragon Age: Origins theme is pretty epic. Not to mention Sins of a Solar empire.

    And of the songs listed here, the superior one is from the first Witcher game. That games music is just soaked in mud, melancholy and mystery.

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  4. Wow, i've played most of these games and found myself standing around, just listening to the beautiful music more than once.

    Great post, brings back a lot of memorys.
    :-)

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  5. Yea, there is some great stuff there. Also, Jagged Alliance had some good "military" feel music for their games. I loved Warcraft that had the "rap" song that was funny.

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  6. I agree with Vice City because I grew up in that era and still regularly dine on 80s movies, TV and video games. Here are a few of my favorites

    Brian

    Nocturne
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3q4AYlrd4E&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0yynNlH_FY&feature=related

    Full Throttle
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jx3Vz6cpXY
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7iVxsqEqK_I&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4KpdqRaldI&feature=related

    Silent Hill Franchise
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eds1ivwq1oc
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tysvNGGFN3M&feature=related
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz3ufaZCoVw

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