There are times when a games soundtrack fits wonderfully with the game, and adds to the incredible setting within the environment of the game you are playing. Fable and Dead Space both provide great examples about how the soundtrack in a game can be used to enhance the overall experience. However sometimes, the soundtrack used for the game just isn’t sufficient to the experience that the player may want for the game, despite its quality. For these times, the players need to have access to their own music in game.
Lets get this out of the way quickly, this isn’t a plea to Sony to ask for more custom soundtrack support on the PS3, nor is it praise for the 360 for having it standard, although I do feel it’s necessary. It is much more of a look into why we as gamers need custom soundtracks, and what the benefits are for having them.
Halo 3 is a perfect example of how necessary it is for gamers to have custom soundtracks when they are playing a game. While the overall score that was designed was excellent, it does not take into account the emotion of the player. How could it? It is not possible for soundtracks to cater to every single person, they are designed to provide the best and most suitable music for everyone. Because the player designs custom soundtracks, they cater to that specific player’s tastes, and what they like to hear when they are playing a certain game, or the music that they listen to throughout their day. When I have access to my custom soundtracks in Halo 3, my adrenaline rises, my aim becomes sharper despite the extra brain power needed to play and sing the song at the same time, and the music seems to fuel the game and make that headshot all the more meaningful, making custom soundtracks very similar to the runner vision in Mirror’s Edge.
Single player experiences are greatly enhanced by the presence of custom soundtracks, depending on how they are implemented. Any campaign that you have already completed, but are replaying for whatever reason (trophies/achievements, entertainment, sheer boredom) can be a bit easier thanks to the presence of your own music. This is especially true for RPG’s, which may require long walks treks without vehicles to destinations or several monotonous tasks that you need to complete in order to continue. Soundtracks can even be implemented in a specific way to enhance the experience. In the Xbox version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, you were allowed to play your custom soundtracks through the radio, but only when you were in a vehicle. That provided an even deeper sense of realism (I like to listen to my music when I get into my car, after all) I even “missed” my music after I exited the vehicle I was in in the game.
Multiplayer is especially made more entertaining when you have access to your own music. In the middle of a heavy match in Gears 2 or Killzone 2, the music providing you with the rush is extremely satisfying. Think about how many times you were listening to your own music in Burnout Paradise and how many times you were were “in the zone” and it helped you avoid crashing, or helped you get that last takedown before the cars destroyed you because you crashed too many times.
If you can find a good balance between being able to hear the other people in the game and where they are coming from, and being able to listen to your music at a good volume, you will find that it will help you a lot in game. It’s a very small detail that may not matter to most people until you actually try it, then, like me, you and your music will become inseparable. read