E3 is a hard place to get a good sense of music in games. The show floor is generally so noisy that you’re lucky if you can hear the attendant next to you telling you how to play the game. Fortunately, game companies are starting to realize the importance of audio in their titles, and headsets are becoming a common sight on the show floor.
I kept my ears peeled over the course of the three days of E3, and while not every game here was deserving of its own separate post, I thought a round-up of the top ten soundtracks I’m looking forward to after hearing them at E3 would be a lot of fun to put together.
Let me start by saying I’m not ranking these titles. I’m going to instead list them alphabetically as some titles had a lot more to offer aurally than others, and it wouldn’t be fair to rank them as such. Let’s begin!
10: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate
We got word directly from producer David Cox that Oscar Araujo of Lords of Shadow was returning for both Lords of Shadow 2 and Mirror of Fate. I admit, I’m torn, as I loved Araujo’s re-imagining of the Castlevania universe with his dark orchestral score, but missed the classic Gothic rock stylings of Castlevania's past. I really love the emotional cue in the above trailer, and the music that we heard in-game, while less melodic, was similar in style to what he accomplished with the original Lords of Shadow. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing more.
9: Code of Princess
I was greatly looking forward to checking out Code of Princess at E3, and I wasn’t disappointed. The side-scrolling beat-‘em-up sports some lovely visuals and the RPG-appropriate soundtrack, covering adventurous battle scenes and an upbeat bar locale that was perfect for the game. We found out that ACE, known for their work on Emil Chronicles and Xenoblade are responsible for the soundtrack, so look forward to some great things from the included soundtrack disc that Atlus is giving to customers
8: Halo 4
It sounds like Metroid, right? In the brief time we spent with Halo 4 at E3, I was impressed by Neil Davidge of Massive Attack’s highly synthesized score. The synth bass sweeps and electronic percussion reminded me of Kenji Yamamoto’s work on the Metroid franchise which is definitely a good thing, although admittedly not “Halo.” When we were able to speak to the creative team about the game, however, we were assured that the big orchestral and choral sounds established in the original Halo trilogy would appear in Halo 4 as well, so it seems there will be something for everyone.
7: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
What’s not to love about a Metal Gear series soundtrack? They’ve made it no big secret that they’ve been pursuing a big Hollywood action sound, and that’s exactly what I heard during my time with Revengeance. Unfortunately I don’t know who’s doing the music at this time, but my guess would be that GEM Impact, the studio headed up by Metal Gear Solid series veteran Norihiko Hibino, is involved in some way. Of all the titles covered here, you can be sure that this one will get a soundtrack release.
Maybe you already knew this one was coming, but with so many classic Nintendo franchises to draw from for inspiration, of course this one is going to stand out in our minds. I loved the retro 8-bit sounds we were hearing in the amazing Donkey Kong Crash Course, and of course Zelda and Animal Crossing also have throwbacks to their respective franchises. Of all the titles here, this one is the least likely to get a soundtrack release, which is a shame, because you know it will be a nostalgiafest for sure!
I enjoyed extensive hands-on with Orgarhythm, and while it’s a difficult game to understand, the music is universal and should be easy to enjoy. As music is a big part of the gameplay, you can expect some catchy tracks to enjoy, with the first stage we played featuring some electronic percussion and a beautiful woodwind melody. The second stage that we caught a glimpse of went more in a rock direction, which I’m looking forward to hearing more of. Ayako Minami is the person behind this soundtrack, responsible for past titles in the Armored Core series as well as Enchant Arms.
4: Persona 4 Arena
What’s not to love about remixed music from the Persona franchise, which is already some of the best in the business? You can expect lots of fan service from this one from the characters included, the beautifully 3D rendered backgrounds, and of course the blood-pumping soundtrack
3: Pikmin 3
I didn’t play Pikmin 3 at E3, but instead was able to watch Chad play and enjoy the game’s stunning visuals and relaxing soundtrack. The game’s music was very Pikmin appropriate with lots of organic sounds including a soothing woodwind melody. I’m sure we’ll be hearing some great music out of this one, so stay tuned.
2: Sound Shapes
This is hands-down one of the coolest things we heard at E3 this year. If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend checking out the video with composer Jim Guthrie (Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP) where he shows off his album in the game as well as the game’s music generator that can be used to create your own levels. There’s not only fantastic music, but a great and innovative way to create and experience audio, so consider me a fan.
1: Unchained Blades
I already gushed about this game’s soundtrack, but it’s really good. As a “punishingly difficult” RPG for the hardcore, the soundtrack is a perfect match with its more rock-oriented themes. There’s the standard RPG town and overworld themes a well, but composer Tsutomu Narita has gone as to far as to upstage Nobuo Uematsu who’s responsible for the game’s Iron Chef-flavored main theme. This soundtrack can already be imported from Japan from Uematsu’s label, so I recommend picking it up if you want a preview of what to expect from the game later this year. Just check out "Titan of Agira" above, my favorite track from the album, and tell me it's not amazing.