Music has always been a big part of video games ever since MIDI tacks solidified the Mario theme as probably the most significant, adapted and memorized 8-bit track that ever existed. There are few out there whom I haven’t run into that do not instantly recognize the hum of the relatively simple, yet surprisingly catchy tune. Here I will give a brief overview of some of the best music in video games in recent times considering not just the music itself, but how it is implemented as well. Mario is left out simply because how blaringly obvious a choice it is.
Beat Hazard & Audiosurf
This spot is tied for first place and is a bit of an unorthodox choice, however there are several reasons why these two take the cake for me when it comes to the best music in video games. While both come with their own unique music tracks, it’s the concept of the games which both allow you to not only import any song on your computer, but to actually play the song, each game in their own special way.
Beat Hazard is an arcade style shooter similar to Gradius and Galaga (on speed) where the track you play influences everything from the type of enemies that attack you, how they move, the way your weapons function and a fluid visualizer style background. Audiosurf on the other hand is a racing game which implements a similar by-the-music type of level generation, except applying it to a twisting and twirling race track which you must navigate against a similarly vivid background. In both games, each has a generator that creates unique levels and experiences for each different song you play, allowing for a game play experience as endless as your music library.
Halo Series, particularly Halo: Combat Evolved
Yes, I am a bit of a Halo fanboy, especially after playing the original after first receiving the original Xbox for Christmas way back when. The thought of the orchestrated soundtrack matched against the intense action still brings back the feelings of how utterly blown away I was. Few game memories stand out so sharply to me as this one and I can still remember how I eventually had to set the controller down after playing over 8 hours straight. This game gets its ranking among the best music in video games due to just how perfectly the two matched to create the grand moments that still makes a room of gamers to blow up in excitement at the cue of the main theme.
A lesser known Indie title that originally came out around 2005, this game ranks in the best music in video games list due to the incredible minimal/VGM soundtrack which permeates the entirety of the Darwinia experience. In this game you are tasked with saving a digital world which is on the verge of complete collapse, and while at first you may wonder why you should care, the amazing game style, engaging storytelling and the eerily melodic soundtrack just pulls you in. By the end, you will be liable to feel a strong kinship with the little green beings and humming the tune to Pain Fades Down while envisioning the yellow memorial kites drifting off and secretly mourning the loss of the Darwinians that fell to clear the virus threat.
Splinter Cell 3 Chaos Theory
First things first, the Splinter Cell series is freaking awesome, the best competitor to Metal Gear Solid, presenting a bad-ass super spy that doesn’t take any shit. Now that is great, but it’s the soundtrack of the third game which gives the game a spot amongst the best music in video games, which brought aboard the undeniable talents of artist Amon Tobin. I’m already a pretty big fan of this dude, and the intense, shifty electronic vibe contributed by the score affirms his position as one of the greatest. Experience it for yourself.