Yes it’s here, my ‘Best of the Year’ list for videogame…soundtracks! Sorry folks, but you might have to wait one more week to see my ‘Best of the Year’ list which will indeed quell every need in your body, I’m just sure of it. Seriously though, it is coming next week, though I am not sure when considering that ‘I haz life’ folks (I know, that’s very hard to believe). Also it’s the Holiday season, so if anything blame those damn reindeer, snowmen and…penguins.
Another thing, in my last article, which was about my personal favorite artists/albums of 2012 (and you should check out), I probably made a mistake by mentioning that ‘this’ list was going to be longer and more in-depth than that one. I was wrong, however that doesn’t make this in any way less informative or entertaining as my ‘Best Artists of 2012 list’. Other than the fact that it’s kind of short…and that I barely have over 9 entries…it’s still a fun read dammit!
But here’s a question that you people have probably been asking, what warrants this article and what makes 2012 a special year for videogame scores? Well surprisingly there were a decent amount of games that managed to capture the feel of what they were going for, while making just some completely awesome music! Sometimes you do get the watered-down ‘Hans Zimmer’ score where clearly the orchestra was just delivering the most bland-bombastic product out there, but every now and then you do get a ‘Suicide Mission’ from Jack Wall or a ‘Still Alive’ by Jonathan Coulton. In fact I always find way more fascinating scores/soundtracks from videogames than I do from movies (just look at most of the titles from last fall for crying out loud). And not only will this list cover soundtracks, but to some degree it will cover ‘sound mixing’ and ‘best use of audio’.
Also since I don’t want to outright spoil my list for ‘Best Games of 2012’, every title on here is gonna be hidden underneath an ‘Ice Cube’ song (‘NWA’ included). It’s a flawless plan that I’m sure won’t leave people confused…at all!
“Ice Cube is equivalent to that of proper subtext hiding after all.“
My Summer Vacation In A Future Full Of Robots And Shit –
“The main theme which was made by Trent Reznor. Overall it could have used some more sexual metaphors.“
For once a’Call of Duty‘ game goes in a different direction with it’s score. Okay sort of, well, let me just say that whenever you bring in Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) and Jack Wall (composer for ‘Mass Effect 1-2‘) you’re gonna get something cool. And thus was the case with the soundtrack for ‘Black Ops 2‘.
“In the future we don’t listen to dubstep, we listen to FUNstep!“
However you do get a couple tracks that of course are just tagged along for mostly ‘chase scenes’, the good thing though is there’s still a lot of energy and uniqueness brought to those types of tracks. If there’s one personal knock against this soundtrack it would be that Reznor only composed the main theme, although it doesn’t matter because Jack Wall does a very good job with amplifying the tension in the soundtrack even without Reznor. Ultimately this just winds up being an excellent action packed soundtrack that whether you’re a ‘COD‘ fan or not, you’ll enjoy. The future may be black, but it sure does know how to get the party started…while being black. Tracks to check out: ‘Theme From Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Future Wars, Savimbi’s Pride‘.
Ghetto Reaper –
“This track summarized in one word: sobbing.“
It’s disappointing to hear a track like ‘An End Once And For All‘ accompanying such a lousy and poorly written ending(s), however there is no denying that the work Sam Hulick and Clint Mansell put into this score is great. However at the same time, it doesn’t quite reach the same caliber of ‘Mass Effect 2‘s soundtrack, though what can? And I think a reason for that is because some of these tracks on this album were mainly used in not only the DLC for ‘Mass Effect 2‘, but also from ‘Mass Effect 1‘. Not to say that it lessens the score, but it does make it more difficult to notice the work that Christopher Lennertz and Sam Hulick put into this. Not to mention ‘The Faunts’ make another appearance at the end credits, which is awesome, however the song that they chose here (‘Das Malefitz‘) is nowhere close to being as memorable or exciting as ‘M4 Part 2‘.
“What I hear every time I enter an Apple store or a Starbucks.“
Despite my complaints though, it’s still one of the best scores/soundtracks of this year. Sam Hulick, Christopher Lennertz, and Clint Mansell definitely picked up the slack after Jack Wall went off to work on ‘Black Ops 2‘. Not to mention the audio mixing here is amazing, but then again it’s ‘Mass Effect‘, would you expect anything less? Of course not, otherwise you’d just be a ‘spacist’. Tracks to check out: ‘I’m Proud of You, Leaving Earth, Stand Strong, Stand Together, Mars‘.
“This track summarized in two words: super sobbing.“
Listening to ‘The Walking Dead‘ score again not only brought back some of the painful memories of playing Telltale’s ‘The Walking Dead‘, but it also highlighted the one thing I sadly forgotten…this is a damn good soundtrack. It kind of has similar tones to that of a ‘Silent Hill‘ score, but it manages to strike a balance between ‘tension’ and just flat-out ‘depression’. Seriously you’ll go through more mood swings here than a bad break-up, or in this case a bad break-up with someone who just turned into a zombie and you were forced to kill.
“You wish you was as badass as this track!“
Big kudos to Jared Emerson-Johnson for putting together just a really atmospheric and heartbreaking score. Also not to mention that Alela Diane does an amazing job with the end credits song, titled ‘Take Us Back‘. Definitely get your hands on this, especially if you’re a big fan of the ‘Walking Dead‘. Although zombies may want to turn to something else, since they have no souls! Tracks to check out: ‘Armed With Death, Alive Inside, Take Us Back‘.
The Slender N**** You Love To Hate –
“Wait, Slender doesn’t have a score? Why is it on this list?!” First off, read the first part. Second because I still feel like ‘Slender‘ needs to be mention for it’s excellent audio cues, the idea that more ambient noises start to appear the more you collect notes is a very cool idea. Judging from how great it performed as a mod, I can only imagine the possibilities once the sequel gets released. Although I certainly ain’t anticipating it’s spin-offs.
“Yes, this is real.“
Double Dragons 4 Life –
“The sound of my dreams.”
Now for something completely different, hey kids you love cheesy 80’s music while fighting random prostitutes on the street? Well boy do I have a score for you! ‘Double Dragon Neon‘ has a deliciously, and yet well done, soundtrack that is composed by Jake Kaufman.
“One of them had a power-up involving cocaine and Sting, too bad it didn’t make the final cut.“
And not only has Kaufman done an excellent job with the score, but he also managed to write-up theme songs for the power-ups! How awesome is that? Just a really fun score along with a very fun game. Tracks to check out: ‘Title Theme, City Streets 2 (Mango Tango – Neon Jungle), Lab 2‘.
F**k Tha Gomez! –
“Fez rave party! Whooo!“
‘Fez‘ was a very strange game, which calls of course for a strange soundtrack. All of the songs on here are done in chiptune, which helps add a lot to the game in terms of making it feel like an old school platformer. And the good thing was that each level had it’s own set of tracks that were different from each other.
“Or as I like to call, sinister as f**k!“
Disasterpeace worked on the score here, and of course did a very good job. This has been one of those scores I’ve come back and listened to over and over again. And for good reason considering the amount of effort that was put into this. Although the death metal jam in the middle of this soundtrack was a bit out of place. Tracks to check out: ‘Sync, Compass, Majesty‘.
Jackin’ For Journey –
“The only drug I need is Austin Wintory’s score!“
What probably may be the best score of this year has to go to ‘Journey‘, hell this was the score that even got nominated for ‘Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media’ on the Grammy’s. This game picked up a lot of attention, which I’ll get into on another certain list, but for right now what is it that makes ‘Journey‘ so special when it comes to it’s music?
“Sand has never sounded so elegant.“
Well first off the credit has to go to Austin Wintory for making sure the soundtrack was tying into the game as it went along, making sure that the timing for each piece was right. Another thing that I can say is that this score feels rich, containing very grandiose and graceful moments. It’s not a very typical score you get from this medium, which makes it all the more special. Tracks to check out: ‘Nascence, Apotheosis, I Was Born For This‘.
It Was A Good Day To Be An Octodad –
“Because I can.“
Not much to say here, other than I really enjoy listening to this song. Man I just love songs involving sea creatures, because they’re just so catchy! Yep.
Well that ladies and gentlemen is my list for ‘Best Videogame Soundtracks of 2012’. And as I mentioned before, check out my blog for ‘Best Artists of 2012’ if you’re curious about it. But next week (or hopefully sometime soon), ‘The Best Videogame Titles of 2012’ list is coming! Those pesky Mayans sure aren’t stopping me from posting this list! Anyway let me know what your thoughts were about this list in the comments below, and thanks for reading.