So this is really just a quick note to get the site achievement...heh I don't know what it is about achievements that just make me want to get them when they really have absolutely no bearing on life...but that's beside my point.
So, where do I find the time to blog? I mean, I'm a gamer, and I can't even find the time to commit to finishing all of the games I buy! I still want to finish Final Fantasy XIII, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 single player, and not to mention get back into online gaming in games I loved such as Modern Warfare 2 or BF:BC2 again (lately, the SC2 beta has been eating up my hours) LoL. But seriously, between the fact that there's always a game that I sink time into, work, TV shows, and trying to have some semblance of a social life...where could I possibly find the time to write a regular blog?
Hmm...no responses are really necessary here...I just thought since I had to write SOMETHING...that I might as well ponder my thoughts "out loud" so to speak.
Alright I'm definitely borrowing this topic almost straight from where I heard it in the ListenUp podcast, but nevertheless I thought it was a great topic of discussion to introduce here as well.
So, the basic question is...when was the last time that music in a game REALLY resonated emotionally for you? Where down the line you would instantly be able to recognize the song as being from that game, or that when you think back on a game the music is something you really identified with. Also, as a follow up to those questions, how do you think the role of music in games has evolved (or devolved as your opinion may be) in your eyes?
Personally for me, that last time I can really personally say that I loved or felt that music in a game was an essential part of the experience was Mass Effect. The two parts in that game that really stand out for me are:
1. Game Introduction - just the epic feel that you got when you first put that game into your Xbox and loaded it up is probably the best that comes to memory (RIGHT behind this being the Halo music, ESPECIALLY the Halo2 opening theme just giving me shivers when I first played it OMG I remember being so giddy as soon as the guitar kicked in!!!). 2.End of the Game[SPOILER ALERT: Link actually shows the ending 10mins of Mass Effect] - the scene right at the end of the game, actually the entire sequence where you see your ship flying and then the teams are searching through the rubble and you think your character is dead...the way the score builds up to the epicness of when you see your guy walk out for me, I remember that part evoking a "YES!" from me...and I believe I owe that to the way the music was used there. Also, probably the BEST fade out that evoked an amazing feeling for me was the fade out and the song that played into and throughout the credits.
The next, and last, game that I will mention here is a game where I feel the music is as much of an integral part of what made the game great as any other aspect of it is Braid. I don't think I would have enjoyed that game as thoroughly as I did without the score that went along with it....the ambiance that the music set for each level was amazing and well, I just don't think there's much else to be said about that.
The next point I'll touch on here is how I feel that for me I don't find AS MANY games that have music that really defines it anymore...too many games are throwing in the generic licensed soundtrack and mish-mash of music that well, I really don't care about. My personal opinion on this that I feel epitomizes my point is Burnout Paradise or the Tony Hawk games in their day. Now, I have nothing but the utmost respect for Criterion and how they've masterfully handled the game since it's release even though I personally felt that it fell completely flat for me to the point that I dropped it (and have only gone back once or twice) a few days after first playing it. However, I digress from me point, which is how the music in that game for me is completely throwaway. After driving around listening to "Paradise City" by Guns N' Roses once or twice I was done with the music...it had no bearing on how I felt during the game...granted the game has absolutely no story and therefore for me, no way of attaching any music to anything in the game...yet I feel that too many games just throw in the music and forget about it...OR opt to allow for custom soundtracks so they don't put as much into the music.
I suppose that maybe I expect a game's soundtrack to be too much like a movie, and that is another point to argue: should that be the case? In a good movie, you don't NOTICE the score so much as FEEL it...watch a movie like War with Jet Li and Jason Statham for example -- a movie that has great potential with action and whatnot but for me fell SO flat it wasn't even funny just because of the complete and utter lack of a good score. A good movie, and subsequently a good game (one that tells a story or has a narrative at least) will really draw you in with the music without you knowing it and really punctuating the emotional points of the story in that way...and I feel that Mass Effect (and to a lesser extent Halo) did this masterfully.
My final point that I will mention is the progression of music in games to the point that it's at now from the old NES, SNES, Genesis, PS1, N64 era games that had music that would be instantly recognized as coming from a specific game. A few games that instantly come to mind for me are many of the Super Mario games or the Zelda games. Who doesn't remember the Super Mario World theme from the SNES? Or the Link to the Past music? How many games these days have music that people can REALLY peg back onto that game...can you really remember or instantly hum out the tune to any of the Mario Sunshine or Mario Galaxy music like you can for the originals? Or the Final Fantasy series...who doesn't know the Victory Fanfare from FF7 (which they subsequently used in many FF's from then on with a slightly different version)? Music in games these days just isn't as catchy...but that can perhaps be attributed to the fact that there is so much more going on in a game at any given point as opposed to the droning repetitiveness of the music in the mario levels...perhaps games have evolved to the point where the music can't be as one dimensional as it used to be? I can't decide if I'm happy about that or not. Maybe it's a nostalgia thing to where looking back on those things now is such a fun thing to do whereas at the time I could've cared less. I like to think it's more of the former rather than the latter however.