One of the subtle ways video games have improved that we don't always notice, or give credit to, is the fact that they can often support rich, symphonic music that rivals the best in film soundtracks. It's an old argument that game music is genuinely good music in its own right, but we think these ten pieces prove the point quite effectively on their own.
Composed by Michael McCann, this soundtrack willingly embraces synthesizers, but works them into ambient themes that stick in your head for days. Just ask anybody who first heard that main menu theme.
Cleverly evoking the work of Ennio Morricone, Bill Elm and Woody Jackson hand in a score that's simultaneously a tribute while obviously being their own work.
A period soundtrack, this game deserves credit not just for the score by Andrew Hale or the original torch songs composed by The Real Tuesday Weld, but also for the incredible and detailed list of popular songs from the time period that were put together. Yep, all that crap on Phelps' radio was a hit.
Courtesy of Bear McCreary, who you might know from "Battlestar Galactica", we love this theme because it's essentially the greatest theme to an '80s sci-fi action movie that was never made, and it perfectly suits the game.
This sometimes harsh, dissonant score helped define the tone of our favorite game from 2011 without undermining. And, hey, it has that opera.
Bad game, great music.
This attempted reboot of the beloved franchise fell flat on the sales charts, but the soundtrack, by Simon Viklund, is one of those wonderful, rare, creation that evokes the hero in just a few notes. We've selected the piano theme, but hearing it in brass is pretty awe-inspiring.
Composing for a Nintendo game is hard because your themes and motifs are already locked in for you, whether you want them to be or not. But this score is, we think, the best example of incorporating those themes while leaving your own stamp on the work. In fact, the only pop culture character it'd be harder to compose for is...
Hans Zimmer's two notes of brass. Danny Elfman's opening theme. Hell, even Neal Hefti's theme from the 1960s TV show is iconic. Ron Fish had a hard job to do, and he pulled it off with aplomb: not a surprise, considering he's been handling "God of War"'s soundtracks since the second game.
How about you? What are your favorites?