When Infogrames released PC adventure game Outcast in 1999, video game music was taken to the next level. No more bitpop or incidental music: Outcast had a full orchestral score, written especially for the game and performed by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and choir.
Soundtrack music is now an integral part of the modern gaming experience, adding atmosphere, emotion, and tension to the game. These days most game companies release soundtrack albums to accompany a game release. I looked at some Videogame Soundtracks on Spotify last year, but lots have been added to Spotify since then. Here’s a look at ten of them.
L.A. Noire is well on its way to becoming my game-of-the-year. This 1940s crime procedural perfectly captures the smoky atmosphere of post-war L.A., and the jazz soundtrack plays a big part in this. The official soundtrack features score music by Andrew Hale, as well as three songs by the divine Miss Claudia Brücken (who doubles as Elsa Lichtmann, singer in The Blue Room nightclub). Spotify has the official soundtrack album but for the licensed music, jump on over to ShareMyPlaylists and check out my playlist of L.A. Noire Radio Songs.
My favourite game of 2010, Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption has a superb soundtrack that played an important part in creating a dusty, western atmosphere. One of the highlights was when you first ride into Mexico: as you arrive, the soundtrack takes over and the song Far Away by José González plays as you take in the new horizon. It’s here on the soundtrack album along with 18 other tracks.
This game quite literally made me cry in fright several times whilst playing it: it scared the shit out of me. No other game (or indeed horror movie) has ever done that before! Jason Graves’ Alien-inspired orchestral score played in huge part in ramping up the tension. It’s here on Spotify so that you can relive those nightmares again (if you dare). In the meantime, check out videogame website TheFeed’s fascinating interview with the composer.
Call of Duty: Black Ops – Zombies
Zombies are everywhere these days. 2008’s Call of Duty: World at War had a Nazi zombie mini-game that proved so popular that every self-respecting first-person shooter since has had to add in a few brain eating undead for you to shoot at. Black Op’s Zombies mode took it the next level, letting you play as zombie-fighters John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara, and Fidel Castro. This soundtrack album has all of the zombie songs from WAW and Black ops.
With contributions from legendary Hollywood composer Hans Zimmer, the Crysis 2 soundtrack is as big as the game. I’ve not played Crysis 2 yet but plan to pick it up on pre-owned once I finish L.A. Noire. The soundtrack is available on Spotify in three flavors: the original version (with 15 tracks), Be Fast! (with 16 tracks) and Be the Weapon! with 17 tracks.
Valve’s Portal 2 is another contender for game-of-the-year. I love this franchise so much I even bought the T-Shirt 😉 The original game featured the song Still Alive in the closing credits, which for me contributed to most memorable game-ending ever. Valve is releasing the Portal 2 soundtrack (called Songs to Test By) across three volumes free of charge via their website. You can download Volume 1 here.
Some other recent videogame soundtracks include:
- Alice: Madness Returns
- Mass Effect 2
- Dragon Age 2
- Kinect Adventures
- Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game
Let us know in the comments if you spot any more!