An awesome soundtrack can make a game experience even better. Below I’ve compiled my favorites from this year some of which have songs that are still firmly stuck in my head. If I had split personalities, they’d all be fighting over this list because all of them are simply outstanding. This one is going to be difficult….
and the nominees are….
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
This one really surprised me, but composer Michael McCann really managed to capture the sense of atmosphere and technology within his soundtrack for the game. Each track instills a sense of wonder in a dark and futuristic setting with a mixture of traditional guitars paired along side electronic music. Some of the standouts that you should go check out are Icarus (Main Theme), Detroit Ambient, and Away We Go.
Batman: Arkham City
Not a game I figured would be on this list, but after playing through it, it has a very Christopher Nolan style sound to it. It fits so well and adds a ton to the overall feel of being Batman in a dangerous place and could easily have been ripped straight out of a movie. It’s very heroic sounding with its strong drum and percussion elements and gets you ready to dole out justice. Exactly what a good game soundtrack should do. Arkham City Main Theme and What’s He Doing Here are great places to start with this soundtrack.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
Once again, Uncharted 3 features another extremely strong soundtrack from the talented Greg Edmonson. You’ll still be hearing the sweeping and epic songs you’d expect including a third reworked “Nate’s Theme” but many of the songs seem to have been integrated with instruments of Middle Eastern descent and ethnic chanting to match the narrative and theme of the game. It really fits well with the game, inspiring a sense of adventure and wonder. That’s really all you can ask of a great soundtrack.
Gears of War 3
If I had to pin a theme to this Xbox exclusive, it would have to be survival. Composer Steve Jablonsky managed to convey that message to the player through the fantastic use of his score. Mixing familiar elements from the previous two games, Jablonsky manages to add even more making this the most memorable and best of the series. The soundtrack retains it’s very military and industrial like feel but is now infused with a sense of desperation. “Gears Keep Turning” is easily the most memorable track with its pounding drums, rising tension and a background chorus to add to the sound.
When I heard that Amon Tobin wasn’t coming back to work on the soundtrack of InFamous II, I was a little worried. Turns out, there was no reason to fear because Jim Dooley and JD Meyer managed to recapture what was so great from the first game and even managed to add in a little Cajun flair for the new location of the game. While it still retains the very urban feel of InFamous, jazz and funk have been mixed in to create something very unique. Overall, the soundtrack infuses itself so well that it won’t get in the way of what you’re doing, but it’ll certainly standout in your overall experience. Check out Cole MacGrath, Overcharged, and Get Bertrand for some awesome sounds.
The first game from Supergiant Games also brings about a fantastic score composed by Darren Korb. Best described as acoustic frontier hiphop, Bastion carries a very distinctive western style score mixed with electronic beats. It’s a joy to listen to and really captures the essence of what the game is trying to get across to the player. Basically, the entire thing is a treat for your ears but definitely check out Percy’s Escape, Twisted Streets, and Setting Sail, Coming Home.
Child of Eden
A very under appreciated title, Child of Eden features a fantastically integrated score. The soundtrack is a huge part to this game as just shooting and destroying targets on the screen gives off a different musical sound. The core soundtrack was created by Mizuguchi’s band, Genki Rockets, and features a heavy dose of rock mixed with techno beats. It fits perfectly into the game and the fact you can add your own sounds like drums and guitar strums just by shooting enemies is a great treat. Passion and Journey are two wonderful standouts from an already fantastic score.
Can you recall the music in the first Portal? I really can’t. Surprisingly, that isn’t the case with Portal 2 as it features a very computerized and futuristic musical style that’ll leave you entranced. Interestingly enough, playing through the game you don’t recognize some of the tracks as they’re integrated extremely well. The light techno/electronic elements fit perfectly with the game’s theme centered around technology and science. Some standouts, that you may have heard in the many trailers, are Reconstructing Science, Cave Johnson, and Science Can Be Fun.
and the winner (and also most probably to be stuck in your head for the rest of the day) is…
I had been going back and forth on this one for days to be honest. Truly, every one of those games above could easily have taken this category, but ultimately it came down to which soundtrack really struck a chord with me after the experience was over. Out of every game above, Bastion was the one to really leave its mark on me. In fact, some of those songs still reside in my brain. The soundtrack is stunningly beautiful and is just unlike anything I’ve ever heard before in a game. The spirit of the game is easily captured by Darren Korb and truthfully, I think the game would lose a lot without it. That’s the sign of an excellent soundtrack and frankly, Supergiant Games deserves all the credit in the world for not settling on a generic fantasy style sound.