Video game music can often be overlooked in favour of concentrating on flashy graphics or the simple honest fun of shooting guys in the face. However, a good musical score can really make or break a game, helping the playing to feel certain ways at particular parts of the game, setting a scene or even just complimenting gameplay to such an extent it kind of makes it more fun to play.
We’ve taken some of our personal favourite tracks from video games for you to listen to right here.
10. Uncharted – Nate’s Theme
The main theme of PlayStation 3’s Uncharted really sums up what the games are all about. An orchestral score emphasises the epic nature of all three games in Naughty Dog’s series, while the almost tribal drumming beat that runs under it compliments it and provides a sense of the unknown to come as Nathan Drake explores and fights his way through jungles, temples and various other exotic locations. Uncharted is one of the greatest games on PlayStation, so it’s only right it has a great score to boot.
9. Mass Effect – main theme
The Mass Effect trilogy is generally regarded as one of the top series’ in the video games, and while I haven’t actually got around to playing Three yet – so not quite in a position to agree or disagree with that sentiment – we can all agree that the main theme of the sci-fi RPG is mighty damn fine. It sets the scene for what became a five year long space adventure which saw your Paragon/Renegade Commander Shepard and his/her crew fight across the galaxy and ultimately deciding the fate of almost every species in it. The theme certainly has a futuristic feel to it, with the combination of electronic beats and an orchestral sound setting out the perfect feel for Mass Effect.
8. Red Dead Redemption – Far Away
Played when you first cross the border into Mexico, this beautiful track was composed by Jose Gonzales exclusively for Red Dead Redemption. Not only does it emphasise the long journey into a foreign land ahead, its sadness also touches upon the character of John Marston, the former bandit who you’re taking into Mexico in hunt down his old buddies due to pressure from corrupt government officials. A mystical composition, it fits well with the mature themes of Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption.
7. Metal Gear Solid – main theme
Stealth is the name of the game throughout every Metal Gear title and it was Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation that first introduced me to it all. It’s never a calm affair as you sneak your way through a top secret facility, even if the guards are so dim as to not notice that cardboard box is five metres closer to them than the last time they looked. However, they weren’t completely dim and if Snake was spotted, then THIS track kicked in, really emphasising the panic of being caught which would often lead to the now oh so famous shout of “SNAKE?!” Just listen, it’s awesome.
6. Portal – Still Alive
The only end credits track to make it into this list, but Portal’s Still Alive is just too good to leave out of this list. Sung by crazy A.I. antagonist GLaDOS, Still Alive recounts how Chell destroys her in Valve’s excellent puzzler. The lyrics are clever, the vocals are excellent and upbeat tempo matches the general humorous nature of the game itself. Fun fact: Still Alive also makes an appearance as a downloadable track for the Rock Band series.
5. Deus Ex – UNATCO
Deus Ex is one of the greatest games of all time, and as with many of the greatest video games, it has great music. It’s the United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition – or UNATCO – that for me is the iconic sound of the game, heard as you take JC Denton around the HQ of this employers. As with Mass Effect above, there’s just enough of a future sound to make UNATCO sound different, but give it what could be an authentic 2052 theme...probably. Listening back to it after completing the game, it’s also has a little bit of a creepy feel to it, which fits well with what turn out to be the not so innocent intentions of UNATCO. It’s an iconic track, so much so that it even returned for a brief cameo in last year’s prequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Not a shame.
4. Final Fantasy – Prelude
Legendary and iconic are words that seem to be banded about far too much nowadays, but the Final Fantasy series can claim to be both, even if the unfortunate outing that was Final Fantasy XIII can’t be. While each game brings in new stories, with new characters and new worlds, one of the few things that has remained consistent since 1987 is the prelude theme for each of them. Be it the old school fantasy setting of the original, the cyberpunk world of Final Fantasy VII, the Prelude theme suits all of them games, and each time you listen to that melody you know you’re going to go on the adventure of a lifetime. Maybe that’s where Final Fantasy XIII went wrong, it doesn’t have the classic Prelude
3. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Dragonborn
The main theme of Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and it’s as epic as you’d expect the score of a huge open world fantasy game to be. Add to that the fact the lyrics are sung in the language of the Dragons, and you have music that makes you want to run outside with a sword and take down trolls, monsters and any other beasts you can find. Ultimately, it’s an orchestral piece that can stand alongside the scores from the likes of The Lord of The Rings and Game of Thrones, except with this one you’re able to control the action and make your own tale as you listen.
2. Super Mario World theme
Mario is arguably the most well known video game character in the world, and having starred in well over 200 games a lot of music has been composed for games the Italian Plumber has featured in. You could make entire lists of the best music in his games, but ultimately I came to the conclusion that the main theme from Super Mario World was the most iconic of the lot. The bouncy beats encapsulate everything that’s fun about Mario which still continues to this very day. There’s not much else to say, just listen.
1. Sonic The Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone
It was a very, very, tough choice choosing between Sonic and Mario for the top spot – it was essentially the 1990s summed up in a single decision – but ultimately, my favourite in-game track goes to Sonic The Hedgehog and its opening Green Hill Zone score. Why? Well, not only does everything from the introduction to the synth beats and changes in key all go so well, it DOES hold fond memories for me. Sonic the Hedgehog was the first video game I ever played, this was the first level music I ever heard. No amount of bad Sonic games-as has been the case recently- can take away how great this tune is.
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