2012 was a big year for music in video games. It certainly feels like the industry is leaning towards putting more effort into their scores. We even saw a Grammy nomination for a song made specifically for a video game- thatís never happened before!
There is some debate as to whether video games should be considered an art form or not, but there is no doubt that the music in video games is more artistic and beautiful than ever before. The year showed us some If youíre still not convinced, then look no further than the list below, where I take a look at some of the music that stood out to me from 2012.
What follows is just a list, not a countdown of any sort- I couldn't actually figure out a way to rank the music of 2012's video games. Enjoy!
It's one thing to show you the streets of Hong Kong, but to make you feel as if you are actually there is quite another. The sounds in Sleeping Dogs are fantastic; youíll hear conversations in both Cantonese and English happening all around you, and the hustle and bustle of the marketplace feels all too real. However, this list features the best video game music, not sound. Square Enix delivers on that front too, with a deluge of licensed tracks that fit right into the gameís setting and plot. Who isnít bobbing their heads to these songs right now?
Sound Shapes is a music-based platformer. Each level is created and designed using a song as a starting point, and the game features a host of artists who lent their musical abilities to the game. The formula works; the rhythm of each song is reflected wonderfully in the platforming. Some of my favourite levels feature the music of Beck (see below), where the music comes to the forefront of the gameplay. Letís not forget the awesome music/level creation tools at our disposal!
Persona 4 Golden
Now, I realize that Persona 4 is technically a game from 2008, but that doesnít make the music any less impressive. The remake gives newcomers (like myself) to the series a wonderful taste of some of the most catchy and entertaining music in a video game. If youíre unfamiliar with the game or the music, take a gander. If you know what Iím talking about, just <em>try</em> to not sing along!
Mass Effect 3
I havenít actually had the chance to completely play through Mass Effect 3 yet (Iím going to play the trilogy all at once), but I think that speaks volumes (haha!) as to how good the gameís music really is. I have no attachment to ME3, but hearing the music makes me want to get back into it! Of course, how the music fits in with the game remains to be seen, but the music is undeniably great.
With the recent resurgence of retro-style games, it was inevitable that the chip tunes of olden times would come back with it. If youíre around my age, then some of the songs weíve been hearing lately will bring back some great memories. Some of the best chip tune tracks from 2012 come from Fez, the XBLA downloadable game. Have a listen, why donít you?
The variety of instruments used in some of the parts of the game just sound beautiful, and can invoke a range of emotions, from fear to sadness to happiness. The memorable parts in the game (Iím looking at you sand-surfing) are made that much more memorable by the music. The parts where youíre scared for your life are punctuated by the music, whether itís the loud booming thuds, or the faintest of string plucking. The music just works in Journey, and it enhances the playerís experience considerably.
Someone mentioned that each song kind of represents a journey, telling a story with a distinctive beginning middle and end. I really†couldn't†have said it better.
Another excellent soundtrack (actually for sale now on steam!); If you enjoyed the music in Drive as much as I did, then youíll love the 80ís-style music featured in Hotline Miami. In fact, the game is somewhat influenced by the film, as the director of Drive is thanked in the credits.
Not to mention the plethora of other games that I didn't have a chance to talk about. We saw some other musical games this year, like Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and Lumines: Electronic Symphony. On top of that, there was the great music of other portables like and Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. Although the Assassin's Creed III wasn't as well-received as its predecessors, the music delivered as per usual.
I have to say 2013 is looking to be a promising year for music in video games as well. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch features the music of the very talented Joe Hisaishi of studio Ghibli fame, while Fire Emblem: Awakening, part of a series that never fails to produce some great music, comes out next week. We certainly have a lot to be excited for!
I have certainly missed a lot, so feel free to let me know what music hit you hard last year in the comments section below. I can't wait to listen!