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Music Monday 6/10/14



For this Music Monday I decided to dive into my game collection and pick out some of the best soundtracks gaming has to offer. This list isn’t even a fraction of the soundtracks I could enthuse about (you’ll note there’s no Final Fantasy on here and that’s purely because I couldn’t pick just one). There are a whole load of different styles here, which really showcases how diverse the game music scene can be, since I feel it’s often looked down upon by diehard music fans who aren’t themselves gamers. Hope you enjoy these tracks and if you have any favourites of your own to share, go ahead and leave a comment or a link!
TimeSplitters 2 – Mexican Mission

TimeSplitters 2 is one of my all-time favourite FPS’s, refining the formula laid out by GoldenEye on the N64 into a ridiculous shooter where you can play as a giant gingerbread man hurling bricks at a tommy gun-toting human-sized duck. It absolutely cemented my love of local multiplayer, and so many of my childhood memories come from crowding round the GameCube in a 4-player split screen deathmatch. Mexican Mission was one of my favourite maps, and a big part was the music, with a catchy, up-tempo salsa-techno-hybrid… thing. It was the perfect backdrop for the action, and composer Graeme Norgate did a solid job on combining the Latin feel with the techno of the game’s sci-fi setting.
Mass Effect – Shepard of the Galaxy

Now this is something special. Jimmy “Big Giant Circles” Hinson, prolific remixer, producer and composer on Mass Effect 2, created this beautiful medley of all the series’ best tunes, mixed into one moving piece. If you played the games, the songs are bound to bring back some powerful memories, but it works as a standalone piece of orchestral mastery too.
Call of Duty: World at War – Beauty of Annihilation

As much controversy and heated debate as the Call of Duty series creates, one thing I’ve always loved about it was the zombies mode. Sure, it was a standard horde-style co-op mode but it was an incredibly well-executed one, with convoluted easter eggs, a surprisingly deep plot hidden beneath the surface and told through the levels themselves, and one thing which always added to the experience, the music. Kevin Sherwood and Elena Siegman created this awesome track for the Der Reise level, a dark piece of goth-y metal which alternates between operatic vocals and howling screeches with solid instrumentation throughout.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – Collective Consciousness

Metal Gear Rising was a huge departure for the series, turning the stealth ‘em up over to Platinum to create an all-out, balls to the wall action game, and the soundtrack evolved to match. Culling talent from Anthrax, Machine Head, Kidneythieves and Maniac Agenda, amongst others, Jamie Christopherson crafted a sonic assault of metal-dubstep fusion, and with “Collective Consciousness” he added stirring strings into the mix to create an oppressive, totalitarian feel that matches the song’s lyrics.
Bastion – Spike in a Rail

Bastion was a truly special game, a great combination of gameplay elements with a sumptuous art style landing somewhere between watercolour and cel-shading, a unique narration mechanic and a hell of a good soundtrack. “Spike in a Rail” is a great Western-sounding track, and while the rest of the soundtrack takes the music in other directions by adding in trip-hop, blues and vocals into the mix, “Spike in a Rail” is a great tune on its own and in the game.
Jet Set Radio FutureFunky Dealer

The Jet Set Radio games are truly unique experiences, being an insane stew of elements that you wouldn’t think would quite work. They’re based around inline skating, which involves lots of grinding on rails, but it’s more about getting the right lines and landing the right jumps than doing tricks like you’d expect from other extreme sports games like Tony Hawk, giving it an almost platformer-esque feel. Then there’s the graffiti tagging mechanics, the gorgeous cel-shaded graphics and that soundtrack. Hideki Naganuma contributes in his signature style, a mashup of hip-hop, funk and sample-based electronica to create a sound entirely his own. JSR is remembered for its music more than anything else, and rightly so.
Halo 3One Final Effort

Of course, no list of game soundtracks would be complete without an entry from the Halo series. The games wouldn’t be half as good as they are without Marty O’Donnell’s work, and the main theme is one of modern gaming’s most instantly-recognisable pieces. You’re probably already hearing it in your head, right? Halo 3 took that melody and embellished it even further, adding more layers of strings and piano to its mix of pounding tribal percussion, hymn-like chanting and sweeping orchestral movements. It’s one of the most uplifting, stirring and energising pieces of music to ever come out of gaming and it truly did define the games it was made for.