Just recently I was engaging in a bit of Red Dead Redemption, minding my own business after quite an ordeal with Irish, when all of a sudden I encountered an amazing piece of music that triggers as soon as you hit the dusty shores of Mexico. Thus initiating a cluster bomb of nostalgia to be unleashed within me. I suddenly had a thought, that I must write an article on some of what I personally think are amongst the greatest musical pieces within video games.
Many would argue that it is graphical implementations within video-games that create the greatest immersion, while this is true, I would have to retort that some of my greatest memories of playing games have come from the outstanding musical work placed at such intricate moments that just make me stop and think, “wow, damn, just wow”. It has come to my attention that not many people seem to appreciate this aspect of a games, thus I am here to remedy that.
So, without further adieu, here are my ‘Top 5 greatest musical pieces within gaming’.
Otherworld – Nobuo Uematsu.
This is one of my favourite pieces from what I would label my absolute favourite game, Final Fantasy X. When I first heard this song, I sat awestruck, the entire thing just screams destruction in the face of death and then proceeds to put it in a pipe and smoke it. This song is pretty much what made this scene one of the best in the game, it begins with young Tidus competing in a game of Blitzball, however the city of Zanarkand comes under attack by the enormous antagonist of the game, Sin. Suddenly, the entire city is destroyed, and in a single scene, so are the lives of millions of people.
This song set the mood incredibly well, the pacing was perfect whilst the heavy metal style fit well with the brutal sport and the aforementioned destruction of life as they knew it, giving it a spot in my Top 5 musical pieces in gaming.
Far Away – Jose Gonzalez
That is the single thought that entered my mind, along with “ooh” and “ahh”. As I mentioned earlier, this is the song that you hear as soon as you set foot inside Mexico, Marston gets on his horse, and rides into the sunset. The first time I heard this song, I had never felt so immersed within a video game before, the pastures of Mexico’s shore were laden with a rising sun and everything seemed beautiful. I think I spotted a single deer, but I didn’t kill it, I just rode slowly to Chuparosa, hoping the song never ended.
For this particular scene I could not have created a better musical piece if my life had depended on it, and I congratulate Jose Gonzalez, because he now has a permanent part in my memory, and every time I dip into the nostalgia bank, i’ll be thinking of this song. Needless to say I shed a manly tear of steel whilst listening, and damn I’m not ashamed of it.
Still Alive - Jonathan Coulton, sung by Ellen McLain (GLaDOS)
Portal 1 was a great game, in fact one I find difficult to fault. It also had one of the weirdest, most sadistic, yet hilarious antagonists I’ve encountered. Going by the name of GLaDOS, she leads you through the Aperture science laboratories whilst you perpetually try to solve incredibly dangerous puzzles, later finding out her evil truth. Unlike the previous two, this song is however not during any cut scene within the game, rather at the ending credits.
I found that Portal was a game that I took immense joy from, it doused me with interest and curiosity, whilst never failing to make me laugh due to the witty banter from GLaDOS or with notes scribbled on walls by previous enslaved individuals. The finishing song is definitely the cherry on the cake (get it!?) and I couldn’t help but laugh and feel that the developers and composers created an awesome game, with an equally awesome song.
To Zanarkand – Nobuo Uematsu
Okay, so I’m revisiting Final Fantasy X again, but this musical piece is quite the polar opposite when compared to Otherworld. To Zanarkand, another piece composed by Nobuo Uematsu is a song that has an incredible amount of power. It is played during what I would say is an incredibly amazing scene nearer the end of the game when Tidus and cohorts re-visit the ruins of Zanarkand.
Again, Final Fantasy X is most probably my favourite game, and I would have to attribute a lot of that due to the atmosphere created by the music, I find myself even nowadays humming this tune while mulling in my thoughts.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City – Soundtrack
Yeah, so maybe this isn’t a single musical piece, but I’d like to think GTA: Vice City played a huge role in my earlier years of playing video games, and I’d like to pay homage to the amazing list of radio stations and 80′s music that I encountered in my travels.
Along with the music, VCPR is also easily one of the best radio stations out of every GTA game I have played (which is all of them) Rockstar implemented an amazing cast of voice actors and the satire was incredibly well placed, in fact I would like to shake the writers hands, unfortunately I’ve yet to do that.
The music within Vice City really sets the mood for 1980′s Miami, which if you were unaware of is the city of which Vice City is influenced. Songs like Come On Feel The Noise, Africa, Out Of Touch and Running With The Night playing on the station whilst driving through the night gave an essence of freedom, which is fitting for such a well crafted sandbox game.
Well, there it is, my top 5 musical pieces in gaming, have you got any amazing moments in gaming, be it musical or not, that you’d like to share? If so, tell me in the comments below.
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