We live in a nation that realises the necessity to add that extra zing to even the worst of plots by getting a solid grip on the original soundtrack. So when Bollywood propels its movies on music and theme songs, why not the entire gaming scene the world over? Games are like movies in all regards, except for one, there can’t be a slow-for-the-plot’s-sakes video game. It can nearly kill the addition or beauty of it if it falls beyond what is required. However, video games can go slower on the plot or actions at times, depending on the beauty of the script and of course the soundtrack that carries it. That is exactly how Heavy Rain becomes such a standalone masterpiece of a game in my opinion. The game lets you think, lets you decide, sometimes the plot doesn’t want to evolve, and then, it all changes. Thanks to the equally amazing soundtrack that makes Heavy Rain such a marvel. A musician by the name of Normand Corbeil hence sets the benchmark for today’s article.The Top Game Themes since last year that completely blew my mind away; be it in the gameplay or in its promotional trailers, that led me to buy the game in the first place.
Assassin’s Creed 3
This franchise totally owes all the credit to the legendary Jesper Kyd, for inspiring one of the most beautifully sought after OSTs in a video game ever. The third installment however wanted to sound something beautifully new, something more revolutionary (just like the central theme of the story). The solution, Lorne Balfe. This Scottish music composer has worked side by side to Hans Zimmer in igniting the music of the last of Nolan’s Batman series: The Dark Knight Rises. And he came up with this revolutionary sounding, more of drums and bells, music of Assassin’s Creed III.From the music in the menu screen to the one that I personally admire, ‘Connor’s Life’, Balfe has given his 200% to make sure that the game is flawless in terms of gelling it with the American War of Independence. From the rebel war cry to the more sentimental American Indian folk music, Balfe has carved the journey of Connor Ratonhnhaké:ton Kenway, on his musical pallet. There are ups and downs in the script, and the music has fit in quite marvelously. Even as we speak of the original soundtrack, the game hit a jackpot in the song selections for its promotional activities. The extended war scene trailer for ACIII features the song that has recently gone big, Radioactive, by Imagine Dragons. The song and the story of Connor somehow seem made for each other. The legendary musician Peter Gabriel features in one of the ACIII trailers, with his supermassive song, Body is a Cage.
If music had ever made any game more effective, it would have to be Hotline Miami. It’s thumping retro 80s soundtrack provided a perfect background for the intense, adrenaline-fueled murder spree that you went into. Coalescing into a psychedelic trip of bright light and blood splatter, the sick beats built up inside your system to a feverish pitch, until you realized that every kill you make, every death you go through beats to the music’s rhythm and you’ve lost two hours in this trial-and-error murder.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
When it comes to the FPS category, there isn’t a bigger monster than the franchise of Call of Duty. A game dearly loved by pro-FPS fans all over the world. The fanbase of COD is ever growing, with a majority of young gamers who bring the day’s pain into avenging acts within the game. To keep up with the fame and the blood gushing theme of the franchise, Black Ops II is bang on with the soundtrack they chose to promote their latest release, Black Ops II. The magic lies in the band that calls itself Avenged Sevenfold. A special trailer was produced and viralled on YouTube featuring animated members of the band replicating the stage madness with a major hint of Black Ops II. The song’s called ‘Carry On’. The trailer cum music video has hit nearly 4 million views on YouTube and is one of the driving forces of this rather upsetting edition of Call of Duty.Later on, the game released their Zombies edition of the same game, which became yet another reason for gamers to get their hands dirty, the COD way. And guess who featured? Yes, it was Avenged Sevenfold all the way. This time they fleshed it all out with their song called ‘Not Ready to Die’, and the bloodthirsty FPS lovers eventually fell for the chaos that Black Ops II promised.
It was a long time since Hitman: Blood Money left us with images of a shattered agency and the supposed death of 47. In 2012, 47 donned his attire and came back into the limelight, with a world full of opportunities. The world’s most sleek assassin almost lost it to Ezio because of some game based errors that made Blood Money fall short of the real Hitman franchise calibre. And the makers of Hitman absolutely knew that this was it, they cannot fail. For the first time, Hitman introduced something that they called the Living Breathing World. An environment that you can use for taking down your targets, be it mercilessly killing an innocent or intervening a scene. The game’s title classified the same dilemma, How Many Lives Will You Take, To Save One? They too, decided to give their legend Jesper Kyd some rest. Thereby introducing composers like Thomas Bärtschi, Peter Kyed, Peter Peter and Dynamedion. The in-game music is what compels one to make the smartest choices, be it calmly passing by an onlooker or slitting a throat or two.
But the one musical introduction that takes Hitman: Absolution to the highest level is that of Damage Vault’s Harbinger. The track seamlessly fitted with both the innocent killing and humane sides of 47, and left us thinking within the trailer itself, whether the song was threaded just for the Living Breathing World experience. Or was it the prophetical observational powers of the game developers who saw the depth of this track as a complement for 47’s fatal choices in life.
God of War: Ascension
If there comes a time when people look back on the history of video games and draw a line saying, Look, here’s how it all got serious, it has to be the birth of the God of War series. A stunningly creative take on the Gods and their evil ways. Coupled with mesmerising graphics and of course a gigantic musical setting, God of War is a benchmark in its own ways. Just when we thought that Santa Monica Studios is finally sealing the story by ending the epic trilogy, we are brought to Kratos’ path of vengeance yet again. And this time, God of War: Ascension has loads to offer. Including the first of its kind wolfpack style multiplayer modes. As epic as I would like it to sound, it also has a stunning multiplayer promo trailer that features a song called Evil Ways by Blue Saraceno. Quite the song that rallies the life and struggle of our all-time favourite Playstation God of gods, Kratos.“Well I Been Gone, Gone For Days, She done said. God’s changed your ways, God’s changed your ways, Your evil ways.” There’s no better song to kick start your hunger for Godly blood this season than this one. Top it up with the God of War: Ascension Super Bowl Promo that features the glorious vocals of Elllie Goulding in the song titled, Hanging On. Not just that, the trailer in some ways represents the fall of the father and husband Kratos, which is so crucial as a plot this time. And the song simply lifts the entire mood.
FTL – Faster Than Light
It’s extremely easy to overlook minimalism. FTL’s soundtrack was supposed to stay in the background and it did it’s job admirably.
Providing a cool downbeat touch to your space-faring adventures across the game’s eight sectors, the soundtrack also was built on solid foundations of midicore –a genre reliant on combining modern electronic music with the nostalgia of gamers that comes with MIDI music. Where FTL’s soundtrack earned a special spot on our list was with tracks like “Civil” (below) where it alternated the quietness of galaxy with the intensity of space battles really well.
It did the unenviable task of taking a much-hated music genre — dubstep and contorting it into a delightful mix of retro-inspired intense music. This was exactly what Super Hexagon needed — a music so loud and intense that along with the incredibly engaging gameplay, it would cast players’ into a trance where mere minutes would pass into hours. The below sample from one of its’ levels is an excellent example of how dubstep and glitch can be used for something other than annoying game trailers(learn EA!).
Crysis 3 can safely be the biggest let down of this year, with some part of my sympathy for the makers who thought, hey let’s keep this one simple. The thing is, except for the typical Nano suit advantage, a predator bow, the Typhoon gun and the online Hunter mode, nothing really worked out in the game. I, being a big Crysis fanboy, took a 10 day gap between playing Crysis 3. However, EA hit the bull’s eye with the way they promoted Crysis 3. The Alien Nanosuit is the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of every Crysis game. So as to make things glamorously obvious, the makers decided to release a promo based on the Suit. The result? A kickbutt promo made even better with the legendary band ZZ Top wrapping up the idea with their song ‘Sharp Dressed Man’.You can pause Crysis 3 on the menu screen and do your homework, the menu song is that awesome. The first time I heard it, I went crazy over it, making it my ringtone and etc.
Far Cry 3
My love for Far Cry 3 comes from the madness as represented by Rook Island. The pirates, the animals, the missions, the Co-Ops, and of course the loud music of Far Cry 3. As a promo, Ubisoft decided to push their much awaited title with a Dubstep track.When you actually play the game, you come across this mission where you burn some weed fields with a flame thrower. That’s the pinnacle of Far Cry 3. Shooting badasses, slaying their dogs and burning the weed to the song ‘Make it Bun Dem’ by Skrillex feat. Damien Jr. Gong Marley. When you roam around in the wilderness, you often come across this crazy track that haunts you for a second or two. That’s the best song from the OST in my opinion, with the very talented Brian Tyler taking care of the tough job. The song’s called ‘The Rakyat’. As you move ahead in Far Cry 3, you get attached to some people, and some you leave. Nothing fits the mood than the title track of the game, which sort of haunts you every now and then. Unless you fantasise Citra over Lisa. That’s the beauty of Far Cry 3, and that’s what Brian Tyler has perfected along with a powerful performance from Michael Mando, as Vaas.
The year has been packed with multiple franchises making their returns, the year in itself looks like the Renaissance of Video Games. But why does it always happen that these big boys lose out to simple minded games like Limbo, Slender or for a matter of fact, now Journey. It is because that game gets you started with no non sense. A brilliant story along with a very simple and yet challenging format of gameplay, Journey is that game that will come back in your mind and replenish you over and over again. It is that legend killer.
The game eases along the storyline and gives the gamers a soundtrack to cherish for life. Austin Wintory, the musician behind Journey’s impeccable soundtrack, can be officially called the Rainmaker of yesteryear. Right from the title track to the other tracks in the game, Journey’s soundtrack is what we call flawless. Along with the game of course. It would be a sitter if you miss out on this game. The reason why Journey is on the lips of people and on the BAFTA Awards is because everything in the game deserves to win what it has and will in the near future.So, here goes my never ending list of soundtracks that have echoed in my mind over and over again, to the extent of taking over my Last.fm charts. There have been moments when I would get stuck in a level, and the soundtracks would just lift my spirits and by a strike of miracle, everything would be easier to achieve. That is the power of music, and that is the reason why the Game Developers of today spend so much into creating that distinct and signature tune that will haunt the gamers even if the games fail. That’s why I am praising all these games that have appeared on my list.
Other notable games and their soundtracks:
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier – ‘Stop a Bullet’ by Black Light BurnsFIFA 13 – ‘On Top of the World’ by Imagine Dragons Need for Speed: Most Wanted – ‘Butterfly and Hurricanes’ by Muse Medal of Honor: Warfighter – ‘Castle of Glass’ by Linkin Park