Transcending Emotions: The Most Memorable Game Soundtracks of this Generation

Music. Not an afterthought anymore, but an expression of adventurous poetry that effectively transcends emotions. This; the 6th generation of gaming, could be considered by many the pinnacle of videogame music in terms of the complexity of the compositions and the relevance it gets to set the proper mood for the experience. Of course, it lacks that “basic” power of the catchy and long-lasting melodies of yesteryear, but still, gamers around the world are greatly enjoying one of the greatest and most memorable compositions in history.

This a compilation of the current generation’s pieces of art.

10. Lost Odyssey

Nobuo Uematsu’s take on a tale about immortality is one to never forget. Encapsulating the drama implicit on not being able to die, Uematsu composes a series of tunes based on the despair and lack of hope of such circumstances.  The result is a beautiful and dramatic score that’s always remembering you that life goes fast so you give it the proper reason.

9. Viva Piñata

Of course, the very talented Grant Kirkhope had to made this list. Viva Piñata features a beautiful score, full of charming yet not-overly-cheesy tunes. The music effectively serves its purpose of helping the gamer get in the mood for gardening, nurturing and administrating their piñatas.

8. Alone in the Dark

This game could have made use of another year of development. Still, it boasted a handful of very creative ideas and above all, a kick-ass soundtrack. Composed by Olivier Derivière; this soundtrack is very effective in giving a perfect mix of action and mystery, and the addition of the great choristers from The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices give the game a much needed personality.

7. Prince of Persia

The PoP franchises, rebooted by Ubisoft last generation, have traditionally featured incredible soundtracks (except Warrior Within), but 2008’s incarnation of the Prince is probably the most gifted one, as it had the pleasure of having Inon Zur on board. Mr. Zur created a soundtrack that could only be defined with the word “magical”, which greatly enhanced the player’s experience by constantly reminding him/her of the beauty  of what was at stake.

6. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

This one is a stroke of brilliance. Taking Nobuo Uematsu’s previous work as a reference, Takeharu Ishimoto created one of the most emotional and strong videogame soundtracks of all time. Combining concepts such as sadness, tragedy and friendship to reflect personalities so contrasting as Zack, Sephiroth and Cloud’s.

5. Killzone 2

Influenced by John William’s superb compositions for Star Wars, Joris de Man composed one epic journey to accompany the frantic, chaotic action Sev, Rico and Garza have to face every two seconds. The soundtrack itself plays in a very patriotic and grandiose way, serving as both an enhancer of the action, and an emotional catalyst when the characters show their more human side.

4. Uncharted 2

This one is a very varied and exotic experience. Taking a lot from the nomadic and adventurous personality of Drake, composer Greg Edmonson uses every mean possible to recreate the multicultural world depicted in the game. The result is a game soundtrack so tight, it could serve as a stand-alone product.

3. Halo 3

The Halo franchise probably wouldn’t be the same without its music. Sure, it would still drive a lot of sales thanks to its multiplayer component, but its universe would lack the immense level of grandeur it has because of its powerful score. Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori saw the potential for something different, and mixed Gregorian chant, slow-paced melancholic harmonies, African drums and electronic bits to create something genuinely alien; yet full of a sense of wonder not found on any other game.

2. Dragon Age: Origins

This one takes a lot of influence from Howard Shore’s music for The Lord of the Ring film trilogy; still, Inon Zur manages to print a very distinct magic and personality to the whole affair. Dragon Age’s world is not an ideal one, and its residents aren’t wise nor beautiful like Tolkien’s creations. That’s why Mr. Zur brilliantly resorts to modify the usual epic fantasy music setting to a darker, more somber yet wonderful composition. It must be noted Aubrey Ashburn’s performance as a choir in themes such as “I am the one” is simply fantastic.

1. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Considering Jeremy Soule’s pedigree in the industry, it came as no surprise his take on the magnificent world of Cyrodiil would be so finely composed. He takes reference from Bethesda previous’ games, LoTR films, and a general baroque way of communication, creating a climatic, epic and emotional experience. As a result, Cyrodiill ends up being a breathing world with a vast array of moods to discover. From lonely mysterious ruins, to beautiful lively forests, to the Oblivion doors and the Imperial City; Soule’s has got you covered, and has made sure your journey will never be forgotten.

So these are certainly some of the finest examples of delightfully well executed videogame music. They have set the bar for future efforts, and they won’t be forgotten in a very long time; above everything, they have transcended the way gamers tend to communicate, and feel. Do you think I missed a game or a composer? Let me know in the comment section!

And don’t forget to read my other music articles; here and here.

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  • keithstacey

    Great call on the Jeremy Soule score! Still, I think Garry Schyman’s Bioshock score definitely deserves to be high up on this list.

  • Great job on this list Julian!

  • Nathan Hardisty (Bananahs)

    No Shadow of the Colossus? Shame on you sir!


  • I haven’t played all of these and your list has made me want to go out and get them just to hear the music score, great summary!

  • Alex

    wow! really great list! I think all I would add would be Lair by John Debney, a really great score.

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