By vidiot 40 Comments
Start this blog off with a quick gaming update:
Been playing a ton of Assassins Creed 2. Hated the first game, absolutely love this one. Not only that, but unlike before I look forward to this becoming a huge highly popular franchise. Heard a bunch of people want the next game to take place in World War 2. I already thought we have that. Instead, In my mind I would want the next game to take place in Japan. Smoke bombs? Throwing knives? Let's show the Tenchu series how it's done.
I love Dragon Age. I also have come to be annoyed by Dragon Age. The quick unnatural changes in difficulty in this game bother me immensely. I've been bouncing back and forth between "Easy" and "Normal" more times than I care to count. I heard the console versions are a walk-in-the-park compared to their superior PC brethren. Wit AOE spells not affecting anyone on Normal, and the combat more focused with the Tactic system. I haven't touched Tactics that much, because it simply doesn't replicate the level of micromanagement that is required of you on PC. You will literally be playing at a good brisk pace, only to hit a fight that will take you a bajillion times to accomplish.
It's a few days into January of 2010, but that doesn't mean my thoughts on the previous year are exactly over. While balancing work, my holiday gaming and going back to class I've been trying my best to compile a list of what I thought were the best damn game soundtracks of the year.
It's a little difficult to compile a all-encompassing list, or to give a list some type of tangible order to how "better" they are from one another. I will provide neither.
What I will provide is a list of games that I have played, that had original soundtracks that got my attention. Let me make myself clear: Feel free to add to the list. You might find this surprising, but I'm just one dude who, contrary to popular belief did not play the apparent 1,099 videogames released this year. I'm sure I've missed a few.
Halo 3 ODST Composer: Martin O' Donnell
ODST is not a "Halo" soundtrack many of us were expecting, which is why it's so great. I feel Marty O' Donnell too quite the risk when he decided that Jazz was perfect for an atmospheric track. While there was a ton of great experimentation to the soundtrack, there was still a sense of it still being "Halo", which is not an easy feat to accomplish by any means. Tracks like Air Traffic Control still capture the same soundscape of Halo, yet offer something new in the process.
This soundtrack could have been quite different to what was released. A compilation of similar to same themes could have been done and repackaged, but instead there was an obvious focus of adding more to the breadth of Halo's music, versus doing more of the same. It's also very listenable outside of playing.
You could almost see the progression of the composition between Halo 3 and ODST.
Halo 3 used piano a bunch to emphasize key sequences. ODST perfects this:
Resident Evil 5 Composer: Kota Suzuki
Who the hell Kota Suzuki? I first saw his name attached to the soundtrack of Devil May Cry 4. If Resident Evil 5 is any indication, I think were going to see and hear more of this guy in the near future. Which is fine by me, because he most certainly proved himself with Resident Evil 5. Past Resident Evil soundtracks focused more on the subtle qualities of being alone. I always thought it was a bit awkward when any real composition was audible as strange as that sounds. Although the music that plays when you hit a save room is one of my favorite tracks of all time. There was also that awesome Biohazard concert CD a while back.
I take it back, Resident Evil has always had good music. Has it always been very memorable? Not necessarily.
This is not an "issue" in the slightest with RE5. Like the change of tone of the series, RE now has a very noticeable soundtrack. It's also AWESOME. The moment some of this stuff was played in trailers, I can remember seeing the comments all applauding the soundtrack specifically. For good reason too.
Not only that, but the vocal theme " Pray" (Oulimata Niang) was equally phenomenal. Amazing singer.
Standout theme had to be Wesker's Winds of Madness, which not only works perfectly as a character theme, but I would also argue as a theme for the entire series.
My favorite part of the soundtrack? Not necessarily the soundtrack itself but watching the composer listen to his music for the first time with a Hollywood orchestra.
(Note: This game has one of my favorite "Making of" videos ever, I strongly recommend people hunt it down and check it out.)
Bionic Commando Composer: Jamie Christopherson
Oh, Bionic Commando. You were such a conflicting game in terms of your quality. One moment I loved you, the second moment you annoyed the hell out of me. Why I have an #S Rank in this game is beyond me, it wasn't necessarily terrible but when this game was good it was great.
When it was bad...boy was it bad.
But this blog isn't about the quality of the game but of the soundtrack. Jamie Christopherson delivers with a soundtrack that's actually very reminiscent to the original Bionic Commando soundtrack on the NES.....Except it's 20 years later and the same music is now being played by a full orchestra. It's awesome. A lot of time and care when into updating these classic tunes, as well as making them sound original and new.
Speaking of which, even the original music is great, but there is something deeply satisfying with hearing that original tune being played. This game wins my "overlooked soundtrack" award, only to be replaced by a game I missed in this list by some other user.
It's a great soundtrack, and a phenomenal followup to Bionic Commano Rearmed's soundtrack.
Batman Arkham Asylum Composer: Ron Fish.
Question: How do you make a standout original soundtrack for Batman? You know, the same Batman that has had soundtracks the likes of Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard attached too? You go for the subtle, that's what you do. Arkham Asylums soundtrack is more focused on the centerpiece of the game (the Asylum) versus any one person or character. The end result is a very moving, and dare I say, poetic series of tracks that punctuate the environment and your actions. It's all quite well done.
Modern Warfare 2 Composer: Hans fucking Zimmer (You were waiting for this weren't you? :P)
I think Hans Zimmer is the official movie composer to almost every movie I saw last year. For good reason, the guy is excellent. He was recently interviewed about Modern Warfare 2's soundtrack, and proceeded to make fun very uninformed statements like how he needed the graphics to help him compose and how emphasizing on how using real instruments was something new.
I'll forgive him. I want more big name composers to embrace games, and right now Hans is about as big as it gets. While Modern Warfare 2's soundtrack is excellent, screwing up making a soundtrack to something as over-the-top as the singleplayer to Modern Warfare 2 is as hard as it gets. Also, while there was quite a bit of buzz to Zimmer taking over, I think people initially sorta ignored the excellent work the previous game's composer Harry Gregson Williams did.
I'm not diminishing Zimmer's work at all. In fact, I would argue that out of the single player campaign his work was quite possibly the best thing to come out of that mess. The music of retaking the white house and the finale of setting off the green smoke is simply a roller-coaster for the ears. The lack of an official release of said soundtrack bothers me.
Killzone 2 Composer: Joris de Man
It sometimes almost sounds more Star Wars, but when has that necessarily been a bad thing? Joris de Man delivers with a soundtrack that's heroic and subtle delivering on all cylinders. He updates the main theme the action themes all are great, and if you don't feel something emotional after hearing the end of " Last Flight of the New Sun", then there might be something wrong with you. (I'm talking about the piece of music separate from the actual game. :/) Killzone 2's soundtrack is blockbuster material, which makes sense regarding the game.
Fun fact, the soundtrack was recorded at Abbey Road studios. So there.
Persona PSP Composer: Shoji Meguro
(I'm adding this in because I think Pepsiman will kill me if I don't.)
More in line with the newest soundtracks with Persona 3 and Persona 4, this new soundtrack almost abolishes the original game's soundtrack. Which made quite a few purists a little upset.
I couldn't care less because the soundtrack is so damn catchy.
Tales of Monkey Island / Monkey Island Special Edition Composer: Michael Land / Jesse Harlin
I've stated that the revival of Monkey Island was perhaps my personal favorite surprise of last year. Michael Land reprized his role as composer of the series, and while there is a ton of new music, perhaps the best part of the Tales soundtrack is hearing bits and pieces of his old work inter-spliced with his new stuff. It's faint to hear, but it's most certainly there.
While Michael Land reprized his role quite naturally, Jesse Harlin could have screwed up royal remaking the classic soundtrack for the first game. He did not. There is something emotionally gripping for me, having had such a long history playing the original to hear those classic news remade and with such quality. It was like I was reliving my childhood.
Uncharted 2 Composer: Greg Edmonson
Holy. Mother. Of. God.
Greg Edmonson is a name that fans of Firefly would remember, he did the music for the series. Greg returns to score the Uncharted sequel with an army of instruments, and a huge list of different styles. Want something that sounds like your in Tibet? Done. Want an excellent character theme? DONE. Want a good piece of music that gets you in the mood from running on foot from a tank?! DONE.
The music at times replicates themes from adventure themes, and no better example is Drakes Theme. To be fair, that same piece of music was in the first one, but this sequel didn't have " Among Thieves". If that track doesn't get you in the mood of going on an adventure....shit... I dunno.
Again, I have to stress the very exotic sound-scape of some of these tunes, specifically the choice of instrumentation. One of the hardest things for a game composer to do is establish music that goes along with gameplay, that captures a mood while your playing that's not specifically choreographed to actions on screen. Uncharted 2 accomplishes this so eloquently with it's instruments, not just specific to the scene but to the environment as well. Not only that, but it doesn't break it's action movie theme in the process.
Uncharted 2 is not just my favorite game soundtrack of the year for it's sheer listenable enjoyment, but for it's behind the scenes technicality that boggles my very fragile mind.
Uncharted 2's music was preformed by the Skywalker Session Orchestra.
I missed a bunch.
I know I did. I'm still playing through Assassins Creed 2 and Dragon Age, I can already hear the phenomenal work done in that. Brutal Legend probably had my favorite arranged soundtrack of all time for sure, that wasn't the point of this blog (Original music).
Are you boiling mad I missed a game for this year?
Too bad, my blog, go die.
Actually I strongly recommend you share.