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About


Hello I am Oscarno and welcome to a rad Video Game Music blog on Destructoid!

I'm way into Video Game Music, and with these blog posts, I hope to provide an investigation into and discussion about Video Game Music and how music affects video games as a creative medium.

I write weekly, usually posting on Thursdays. Most weeks will be OST Case Studies, looking a the music of a particular game and pulling it apart to find why it works so well. Sometimes, however, I'll just post a shorter opinion post or perhaps an article looking into other areas of Video Game Music.

If you wanna talk to me or follow me on Twitter ,you can.(but tbh it's pretty boring)


Also you can check out some of the music I make on my Soundcloud!
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Steam ID:Oscarno
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HEY! I just thought I'd drop in to the ol' Community section Destructoid to let you guys know what the heck is going on in my life and why I've been missing for a solid month and a half, because you guys are cool and I don't want you to feel like I'm abandoning you. So first let's talk about music. lots and lots of music. 

Firstly, BAYONETTA!! I bought the double pack along with Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze (wich also has great music) and honestly ever since I booted up the demo of Bayo 2 I can't get Tomorrow is minie out of my head it's absolutely fantastic oh my gosh!! The jazz influence, the piano, the backing vocals, THAT PART WHERE THEY ALL GO IN SYNC ugh it's glorious. 




I'm blasting through the fist game as much as I can because I just want to listen to that song in game i'm so bloody excited. 

Speaking of Platinum games I only just beat Wonderful 101 after getting it in May. What a rad game. The music is fantastic and although it took me half of the game to finally understand how the combat worked, i had a bunch of fun. And dayum that eding sequence is probably one of the best I've ever experienced, hands down.

ALSO SHOVEL KNIGHT RELEASED IN AUSTRALIA THIS MORNING! Now I know it's been on PC forever, but I really wanted to play it on my WiiU and i've listened to the soundtrack extensively but just hearing Virt's music in game is really magical. Strike the earth gets me so pumped it rocks! (Also in entirely unrelated news how cool does Splatoon look! I'm super keen!)

And hey, in my absence from writing about music, i've acutally been writing my own music! I recently released a little EP about a robot in space. I had a blast making it, it's got some 80s synth ballads, it got some ambience, some chiptunes, some synth rock I think maybe?? So that's a thing you can listen to if you want...


Secondly, let's talk about writing. I know I haven't written a case study or anything or even been around in a while, and i apologise profusely for that. I really enjoy reading everything that comes through the community section of destructoid, and having conversations with you guys but i don't really know what happened... I was in the middle of writing a case study on Hotline Miami, and then i just stopped and now it's a month and a half later... oh wait, nope I figured it out it was Smash Bros. Smash Bros consumed my life. oops. Regardless, I'm here to double apologise.

Firstly for just leaving without reason and secondly because I don't think I'm going to be able continue writing case studies or other long form blogs here :( Don't get me wrong I frickin loved conversing with you guys about video game music, but I'm running low on time and games so I think at least a little time off sounds good for me to conquer the backlog and perhaps work on some more of my own music because I really enjoy that too. We'll see how we go next year, as I'm starting University again, and I'm not sure if I can fit ost case studies into the schedule, but hey you never know. 

I'm going to try and hang around in the coments and stuff because I really want to get back to chatting with you guys it's great so perhaps you'll see me in the comments (especially if you make a music related entry. I'll be there. You know I'll be there.)

But also some exciting news! I might be doing some news / editorial writing for Press Start, an Australian gaming site. So far I've only made one post but i'm pretty excited we'll see what comes of it!.  And that was all because of you guys! Because you are all so supportive and welcoming i've been able to do stuff with my writing here which is so rad. OH Did I tell you that I used a couple of articles form here in an audition I had for University? Frickin none of this would have been possible without your majestic butts guiding me thorugh. So I thank you for that, and I hope I can return the favour one day!. 

Anyway, I just wanted to let you guys know that the community section of Dtoid is super important to me and all of you guys are super cool and hopefully I'll have a little more presence here in the coming months. I'll be sure to check back every day! You guys rock my socks. Have a fantastic day!









Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is arriving and I'm really excited guys. Not only for a rad portable version of smash, but also for some sick new arrangements of some of the most iconic game music in the history of the universe!! Now, there are people in the world with copies of the full game, and people with access to the demo, and unfortunately I am in neither of these camps, so my impressions of the pieces is form a context outside of the game, who knows there may be some that work really well in the heat of battle but for now, these are some of the tracks i'd like to share from what I've heard so far!

//FIRSTLY//

I would like to take a moment to appreciate some of the crazy good music we get as ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS for this insane crossover arena brawler that is Smash. 

Ever since I heard this arrangement of the main theme in the E3 Trailer in 2013 I've been pining to listen to it in all it's glory and HERE IT IS!! There are so many arrangements o the main theme for this generation of Smash Bros and this is probably my favourite but there are two other arrangements which I would highly reccomend. 



I really like these two arrangements as they take the theme in different directions and stylistically are just groovy I really dig them. 

But the new theme isn't the only original tune that gets some really rad treatments, there's even one for the Melee fans out there...(and it's insane)

//SECONDLY//

There are some really good arrangements for classic Nintendo tunes in Smash Bros for 3DS. These are just some of the arrangements that jumped out at me and there are so many more that I'd love to talk about but there's no time for that LET'S GO!

 

1. Megaman 2 Title / Dr Wily Stage 2 - Megaman 2 I mean you just can't pass up a good metal arrangement especially when it's an official one and ESPECIALLY especially if it's Megaman. 

2. Stage Select - Pikmin I'm a fan of the pikmin games and their music is really charming in a nonsensical, disconcerting kind of way. This is just a really lovely arrangement of some lovely music. 

3. Bath Time (Vocal Mix) - Nintendogs When a short sample of this went up on the website I enjoyed it immediately and I was really confused as to why people weren't talking about it because it's a great arrangement of a really nifty tune. 

4 Ground Theme - Super Mario Bros. IT'S A HALF DECENT ARRANGEMENT OF THE ORIGINAL MARIO THEME!! AND IN A SMASH BROS GAME NO LESS!! I'm so glad they did this. I was a bit bummed from Mushroomy Kindom in Brawl, but this just brings it right back to where it belongs. 

Gerudo Valley - Ocarina Of Time OH MY GOLLY GOSH THIS IS THE ARRANGEMENT EVERYONE HAS BEEN WAITING FOR!!! Ever since I heard the original Gerudo Valley music when I was 8 I have wanted to hear an arrangement just like this and this delivers in spades. We finally have a definitive version of the Gerudo Valley music, guys. We did it. Video Games are over.

Obviously there are so many more pieces and arrangements which I'd love to talk about but I thought I'd try to keep this as short as I possibly could. So tell me, what are some of your favourite pieces from the Smash Bros series!? If you have the game, or the demo, or have listened to more of the new tracks, what are some of your favrouite additions!? I'd love to hear your selections!! HAPPY SMASHING EVERYONE!

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Oscarno
11:14 PM on 09.11.2014

In July of 2010, Playdead's game "Limbo" hit the XBox Live Marketplace. It's striking visual style and effective use of storytelling through gameplay was enjoyed my critics and consumers alike. It received various accolades and was recognised by many large publications such as Time, Wired and the Toronto Sun, who all placed the game in their top 10 lists for the year. Martin Stig Andersen was the Composer and Sound Designer for the game. Andersen decided to take a more non-traditional route in terms of sound and music when it came to Limbo. The background tracks the player hears in game aren't the typical sounds you'd expect from a video game, but they suit the game incredibly well. The music of Limbo, however isn't where the audio shines most, the Sound Effects and how they mesh with all other aspects of the game are what make the audio experience of Limbo so captivating.

One of Limbo's most recognisable features is the black and white silhouetted visual style, and Andersen's music simultaneously creates a great reflection and a strong juxtaposition of this. The sounds are vague, with not real beginning or end. They all blend together to create a general harmonic sense rather than a strict harmony or melody. This compliments the visuals as they are only defined from their outlines and otherwise blend together. The background is out of focus, with the player only able to notice the objects there if they purposefully pay attention to them. However, the music is rich with texture and harmony. Although it lacks definition, there is a lot of subtlety and purposeful use of timbre within the sounds. There are layers upon layers and many variations of tone. In this way, the music is the direct opposite of the visuals. Where the graphics are sharp and absolute, the sound is soft and unsure, this juxtaposition seems to give the world more depth and gives the player a feeling that there is much more lurking in what cannot be seen on screen.

The music only makes up one part of the overall auditory experience of Limbo, however, as the sound effects play a very important role in the game. As stated before, the game's visual style doesn't allow for much detail to be given about the game's environment. No texture, no colour, no reflection just silhouette. Although when playing the game, the player has a strong sense of the materials of the objects they're interacting with, along with their weight and various other properties. This is all thanks to the magnificent sound effects implemented throughout the game. Every sound in Limbo helps to paint the world the player is traversing through. This is a great example of the game giving the player information through sound without having to sacrifice the visual style or include impeding narration or dialogue. Not only this, but the sounds that objects produce in the game often play a key role in the puzzles within the game. A sound might signify an object has dropped off screen, or that a magnetic surface has bee turned on or off. All of these instances of sound within the game allow for a fluid, exploratory experience for the player and is just one of the reasons the game feels so cohesive.

Limbo's audio gives the player two types of information pertaining to the game world. Firstly, a very general, vague sense of atmosphere, provided by the background score, and secondly a very specific aural representation of objects within the world, giving it detail and allowing the player to identify sound effects with similar sounds in the real world. One piece of information that Andersen purposefully excluded however, was emotional information. This was an intentional choice from the game's director, Arnt Jensen. Andersen says in an interview with DesigningSound that he wanted to
"to avoid music that would manipulate the emotions of the player". This choice gave the game an entirely new dimension. All emotional interpretation was left solely to the player. There was no score to instruct them how to feel about a particular event, all the information was just presented to them as plainly as possible. This is probably one of the most important artistic choices the team could have made and it certainly turned out for the better, as it reinforced the melancholy nature of the game, and gave the player the agency to interpret things for themselves rather than have the game give them the "correct" emotional response.

Overall, sound plays an incredibly important role in "Limbo". It gives the player all the information about the game world they need, without sacrificing gameplay or visual style. The music both reflects and contradicts the visuals, giving the game world definition and depth. Limbo provides a unique take on music and sound within a video game, giving emotional ambiguity and a strong auditory identity.

What do you think? Did you find Limbo's music to add or detract from your overall experience of the game? What are you expecting for Playdead's next title, "Inside"? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Also be sure to check out the full interview with DesigningSound it's a great read.

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1.This is it right here right now!!
I've been posting my articles here in DToid's community section for a while and I only just now realised that I haven't even introduced myself, so I'm doing it now let's go!

2.I am way into music. 
If there is something making a noise I'm going to listen to it, no matter what. Be it a Beethoven symphony, or nails on a blackboard, I want that sound to get into my brain right now. I'll literally listen to any genre of music and enjoy it...yes, even country. There's so much to be learned about culture and emotion and society and everything else through music. I love that it's a crazy nebulous thing that no one will ever truly grasp, and there will always be new things to learn about it and new ways to experience it it's just great. 

(2.5 I am way into video game music.) This all ties into why I love Video game music. Good video game music is there to enhance a players experience within a game, be it through sparse soundscapes, or a constant barrage of death metal it's all there to add to the greater experience of the game and it's fantastic. The interactivity, the genre variance, the ways the music changes in new and interesting ways are just some of the ways VGM beats out most other media soundtrack-wise. It's crazy interesting and it's great to see the interesting new ways people take music with new gameplay concepts or ridiculous premises UGH VGM IS SO GREAT DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS@!?!?

3.I come from a land down under. 
I live in Australia, where the winters are warm and the summers are just ridiculous honestly. There are pros and cons to living on the worlds largest dustbowl, The weather is great most of the time, but we have to wait forever for some stuff to release here. We get some of the perks of being lumped in with the PAL localisation for games, but most games cost $80 off the shelf. We have some of the greatest endemic fauna and flora ever, but most of it will kill you if you as much as sniff in it's direction (just kidding, everything is peaceful please visit). 

4.My IRL name is Oscar. 
It's hard to believe I know but if you try really hard you might get used to it eventually. (PS I am not a dog, I know like 80% of the worlds dogs are called Oscar but I promise I am not a dog, definitely a human not a dog. My uncle is a dog but that's not here nor there.)

5.I listen to way too many podcasts. 
Currently in my iTunes I have over 600 podcast episodes I need to listen to, and it's brilliant. There's nothing I enjoy more than cramming my head with as much useless knowledge as possible on my commutes. Be it about VGM, science, fantasy stories, business or whatever if people talk passionately about it I'll probably listen to it. 

6.I'm way into making music. 
No this is not the same as No. 2 and no I'm not running out of ideas shut up. But seriously I really enjoy playing as many instruments as I can get my hands on and making sounds and recording them and putting them on the internet. I've made some music for short student films along with some random other stuff( you can find it all here) I started writing music in 2010 and haven't looked back. My dream is to one day be able to live off making music, be it for Video games, in a performance type deal, or whatever, if I get to be making music for my job I'll be stoked. (also be sure to keep an eye on that soundcloud because there might be some exciting stuff coming sooooon!!)

7.My age is a secret. 
Just kidding I'm 19 hahahahaha joke's on you. 

8.My face is a secret. 
Don't go looking for it you won't find anything. Actually even with the most basic search you'll probably find my face, but for now I shall remain a friendly blue Pikmin. I have no reason for doing this i just like blue pikmin??

9.I Like Nintendo. 
I've got nothing against any consoles, if it provides you with the games you want to play then I implore you to absolutely love the shit out of your console. For me, I really enjoy nintendo's games. I'm bummed that I haven't been able to experience Journey or The Last of Us yet but hey, maybe I'll pick up a Playstation TV once they release so I can finally sink into those sweet sweet games. Or I'll just visit a friends place or something i don't know I'll figure it out jeez get off my case. Anyway, Nintendo has a bunch of great stuff I enjoy playing on my own and with family and friends (plus i have a rudimentary PC for everything else). Also the music, don't forget about nintendo music. 

10. Let's be friends!
If you wanna have a chat about anything you can contact me on twitter or send me a message on soundcloud or if you want to play games or something you're more than welcome to add me on Steam or the Nintendo Network I believe all the deets are in the sidebar just to the right!!

Anyway thanks for reading things about me I'm flattered you managed to get all the way to the end congrats! Sorry for taking this long to introduce myself but I'm glad I did hooray!!
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Since it's beginnings in 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog has become one of the most recognisable characters in video games. The franchise has certainly  gone through it's ups and downs as it's grown older, but to many it still retains it's charm. The general tone of the games has also shifted throughout the years. Initially, the franchise began as direct competition to Nintendo's Mario franchise, targeting a more edgy, teen audience. Eventually this evolved into a weirdly mature tone and kind of got lost when Sonic made the move to 3D based games. Recently, however, the franchise has taken a turn for the better, with games like Generations, Colours and Lost World getting praise from reviewers and players alike. But I believe that it's more than just the games' designs and gameplay that have changed over the years, the music has shown a strong reflection of the games' tones an has also hinted at their target audience. In this article, we'll be taking a look at the music of the mainline sonic franchise and discussing how it has changed and grown with the franchise as a whole. 



The very first Sonic game was released on the SEGA Genesis / Megadrive in 1991.  It utilised the consoles sound chip in a way few games had done before. It's utilisation of the crisp drum kit sounds and the clear bass by composer Masato Nakamura gave the game a distinct sound that gave it a strong identity in the video game landscape at the time. A year later, Sonic 2 was released with a similar sound as it's predecessor, but relying slightly more on the capabilities of the FM chip within the console producing sounds less synonymous with 8bit music.  1994 saw saw the 3rd instalment of the Sonic franchise released, Sonic 3 & Knuckles (which I'm going to be tackling as one game because honestly after all these years I still can't wrap my head around how they're different games but the same game in 2 carts that lock onto each other????). Nakamura was reportedly assigned to the project but dropped due to financial disagreements.  There are many composers credited to the creation of Sonic 3's soundtrack but undoubtedly the most intriguing name on the list is Michael Jackson, who later denied claims that he had worked on the music for the game, spurring one of the biggest musical mysteries in video game history as there were many tracks which seemed eerily similar to some of Jackson's later work. 

However controversial Sonic 3 and Knuckles' soundtrack may be, there was a Sonic game released a year prior which had a much larger affect on the music of the Sonic franchise as a whole.  Sonic CD was released on the SEGA CD in 1993 and featured a soundtrack with "CD quality Audio" thanks to the system's new hardware. But the fun doesn't stop there, Sonic CD has 2 soundtracks, one for the Japanese /  European version of the game and one for the American version.  Most people argue that the Japanese soundtrack is the better of the two, and i can certainly see why, but the American soundtrack did something that would change the sound of Sonic the Hedgehog forever. 



Sonic Boom marked an important transition in the music of Sonic the Hedgehog. Following the release of Sonic CD, the blue blur's games would no longer try to compete with the cheerful quirkiness of Mario's instrumental tracks, instead there would be an emphasis on energetic vocal tracks to accompany the games. 

The SEGA Saturn didn't see many new releases in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. A Port of Sonic 3D Blast was released in 1996 with a jazz influenced soundtrack from Richard Jaques with the vocal track "You're my Hero" playing over the credits, Sonic X-Treme was set to release the following year but was cancelled, leaving only Sonic Jam (a compilation of the genesis games) and Sonic R, an on-foot racing game featuring all vocal tracks when racing. 

In 1998 SEGA released it's Dreamcast entry into the Sonic series, Sonic Adventure. The musical centrepiece for this game was "Open Your Heart" a grungey garage rock song, epitomising the cultural relevancy the Sonic franchise was now striving for. The soundtrack from Jun Senoue utilised a heavy guitar and rock feel throughout, grounding the tone and target audience for the game. Fast forward 3 years and Sonic Adventure 2, SEGA's last 1st party Sonic game is released. Once again the guitar laden rock song, "Live and Learn" stands as the main musical pillar of the game, greeting players as they boot up the game and in the Final battle along with the credits. Senoue returned for SA2 and took much of the same tone as the first Sonic Adventure game, with many vocal tracks throughout the game.

 

After SEGA left the hardware market, there was a decline in the quality of Sonic releases. Games like Sonic Heroes, Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 06 were just not of the quality players had come to expect. Similarly the music was generally uninspired and largely didn't change. Over almost 10 years, the music in sonic games was the same as Sonic Adventure 2, grungey distorted pop punk tracks headlined a soundtrack that had far too much teen angst in it. But in 2008, a new sonic game burst onto the scene and seemed promising. 

Sonic Unleashed finally diverged form the tired old musical formula sonic had become attached to for so long. Sure, the tacky Bowling for Soup title song form Bowling for Soup form Bowling for Soup was still there, but the attitude was different. The main music of the game wasn't all distorted guitars, the lead composer Tomoya Ohtani took inspiration from real world locations and cultures and infused it with the high octane feel that a Sonic game needed. The Werehog sections of the game weren't very well received, but their jazzy, noir tunes fit them to a T.   In 2010 Sonic Colours was released to surprising critical acclaim. Continuing the pattern of title songs, the synth pop tune, "Reach for the Stars" accompanied the game, but wasn't seen outside the opening sequence. The composing team for Sonic Colours captured the reckless, and adventurous nature of the game along with it's lighthearted tone. With Colours being one of the best received modern Sonic games, things were looking up for the fastest thing alive. 



2013 saw the latest release in the long running series of Sonic the Hedgehog. Released exclusively for WiiU, Sonic:Lost world received mixed reviews for it's new take on gameplay and level design. The music for the game, however was something very special. Finally, after over 10 years of being help captive by a generic title pop tune, Sonic was free. A Fully orchestrated score and well developed themes made the music to Lost World finally feel impactful and not pandering to cultural relevance or marketing effectiveness. Tomoya Ohtani's music finally gave the franchise some respect and it definitely shows. Each environment has fitting music and the themes see development and are reinforced throughout the game. Heck, there's even a track which pays homage to Astor Piazzolla!

The Sonic franchise has certainly been through it's highs and it's lows, but it seems that as of late, the series is finally finding a way to provide exciting and entertaining music without trying to be the cool kid on the block. What are your thoughts? Do you think the music of recent instalments is an improvement on the original genesis tracks? Or do you believe that the sweet sound of the FM synth will always have a special place in gaming? Where would you like to see the music of Sonic go next? What are some other Sonic games you believe shaped the musical landscape of the series? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Of course there are so many sonic games and details that I just didn't have time to cover, so if there are any you'd like to discuss, feel free to bring them up in the comments!
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Developed by Platinum games, Metal Gear Rising: Revengance acts as a side story to the Metal Gear series of games. Taking place 4 years after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Revengance follows Raiden as he fights against the Private Military Company, Desperado Enforcement. Revengance's gameplay is distinctly more action focussed than the main line Solid series, and the music reflects this. The score was composed by Jimmy Christopherson and audio directed by Naoto Tanaka.  The music is more focussed on heavy metal, electronic tracks rather than the soft pulsing tense tracks found in the Solid series. Even though the music is in a completely different style to the Solid series, there are still some musical and gameplay elements which carry through to Revengance, and these help to strengthen the correlation between the two games.  One of the most memorable facets of Revengance, both musically and overall are the boss battles, which provide some of the most pumping tracks in the game. 

Where Metal Gear Solid takes inspiration from spy movies such as James Bond, Revengance references fast paced action flicks packed with explosions and cheesy one-liners, and the music follows this to a T.  During combat, bombastic percussion and distordet guitars accompany Raiden as he carves through enemies. But the sound isn't strictly orchestral, a large majority of the score is dominated by electronic sounds. Heavy electronic drum kits and thumping baselines accompany the more traditional sounds or the orchestra. There's no doubt that the electronic sounds were a very diliberate choice to reflect the game's strong focus on cyborg technologies. Practically every character in Revengance is either affiliated with cyborgs or a cyborg themselves, with some of them just being pure robots. The synergy between electronic sounds and traditional instruments in the score reflects some of the game's underlying theme's well, as the balance between man and machine is constantly shifting . 



But the game isn't in an eternal combat state. There are times when the action is low and stealth and exploration are at the forefront. It's a these moments, when the Metal Gear DNA rises to the surface. Like the Solid series, Revengance utilises a stealth system with Caution and Alarm states along with the default undetected state. When undetected, the music is low and pulsing, providing tension and energy, but not pushing the player to do act out. When detected, the music picks up, and informs the player that enemies are actively looking for them, and in the final Alarm state, the music really kicks off into a full fledged combat track, to accompany the player as they must eliminate the threat to move through the level. This technique of gradually adding onto the score as the gameplay requires it is called a Layered Score. It's useful as it allows the music to change as rapidly as the gameplay does and appropriately accompany the actions the player is taking. But the layered score isn't just used for the stealth system in Revengance, it's also used in the boss  battles. 



Revengance's boss battles are absolutely out of this world. The game itself is utterly ridiculous, with Raiden slicing entire planes in half and using swords the size of skyscrapers, but the boss battles turn all of this up to 11. The music of the boss battles takes the idea of the layered score and uses it in such a way that fits the fights perfectly. As the sequence begins, the music is already pumping pretty hard, but was the fight continues and the boss goes through different phases, layers are added onto the music which peaks when finally vocals are added. Vocal tracks aren't something we hear in video games often, but Revengance uses them as a reward for the player finally overcoming the main adversaries of the game.  These tracks are non-stop walls of sounds and the vocals are just catchy and memorable enough that the player can sing along to them as the final blow strikes and the battle ends. This amplifies the players involvement and allows them to feel accomplished especially in such a cutscene and story driven game. 

Metal Gear Rising: Revengance's soundtrack is truly something to behold. It's full on nature and breakneck pace makes it very memorable. It's twist in genre from the main Metal Gear series allows this game to have a strong identity on it's own while still holding it's ties to Metal Gear Solid. It's unique use of vocal tracks give the player a true sense of involvement in the game and manages to take it's ridiculous amount of action even further. 

What do you think? Did you enjoy the vocal tracks in the boss battles? or did they distract you from the action? Was the Metal Gear Solid balance too strong? or perhaps not strong enough? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with the game.
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