The Soundtrack to My Life
Music is an open world. We step into it, carrying the baggage of our years, only to be wiped clean by its raw purity, its unending beauty, and boundless hope. Much like Time, music has existed beyond memory, it is the very foundation upon which we communicate. Music is language incarnate.
Long before tweets and posts, bards and boasts, our stories lived in song. The greatest tales of men were remembered in song and sang down the generational line so that they might be remembered by those who would come.
Now, here I sit, writing in perhaps the most lyrically challenged language ever created, attempting to extol the virtues of song in our modern, noise filled world, listening to beautiful music made by men who remember the face of their fathers.
There are many forms of music that exist in our modern, "civilized" world, but none truly capture my attention like the almighty soundtrack. In this form, there are none more pure in use than the video game soundtrack.
I think, in our heart of hearts, each and every one of us wishes that our life had a personalized soundtrack (I know there was a Family Guy episode in which Peter was granted the same wish, but I am of the belief that Seth McFarlane is wealthy enough without being plastered further across the interwebbies). Who wouldn't want to have music punctuate every action of their day? Unfortunately, unless you have some seriously amazing playlist skills and an uber-tiny bluetooth headset, this is a pipe dream. Fear not merry minions, for the video game is here, once again, to save you from your unfortunately dull lives!
I'm going to list off a few of the game soundtracks that I feel truly capture the essence of the experience whilst experiencing it, but I know thee gaming community! I don't want to hear all the complaints about how I didn't include this game or that game. When all of you grow up, move out of your parent's basement, and properly use "whilst" in a sentence, maybe then I will come to care about your opinion. <------ word pwn
Marty O' Donnell's opus will forever remain my favorite video game soundtrack. In this regard, I am most certainly biased. Halo 3 was my first real, hardcore, gaming experience and nothing quite nails that truth home like a swelling instrumental.
Playing as the Chief is already a rather "liberating" experience, as is any experience in which you play a genetically enhanced super-soldier with a brilliant A.I. partner who helps you save the entire universe from annihilation by not one, but two separate entities. Add to all that awesome, a soundtrack that playfully and forcefully weaves itself through your every action, and you get a recipe for one hell of an empowering experience.
Halo 4's composer was no slouch either, but Marty is difficult to top.
Again, let me say I am biased, as AC is my favorite video game series of all time. Ubisoft's dedication to historical accuracy continually brings me back and fulfills my every requirement. Of course, there are fictional (supposedly) story lines wrapped around the historical accuracies that form the meat of the games, but these are only enhanced by the studios dedication to architectural and cultural accuracy, the soundtrack included.
Each game in the series brings you to a different locale, and each is punctuated by its own sights and sounds drawn from historical record. The latest game in the series takes place around the time of the American Revolution and the soundtrack is appropriately tailored to reflect the idea of vast expansion and blossoming hope.
Most importantly, the soundtrack reflects on itself with moments of silence as you are free-running through the forest. There are moments when an ambient track will slip in, but the majority of the open-world soundtrack allows Nature to sing her song. In these moments, as you stand atop a mountain, gazing out at a beautifully untouched frontier, you truly begin to grasp the grand undertaking that was the United States.
The frontier only covers half of the brilliance though. When in cities like Boston and New York, the soundtrack reflects a certain tension as the people are beginning to manifest their inner rebel. This tension is what makes the game so great, as the cork can pop and chaos can spill over you at any moment.
Oh! There are also epic (I know, but they really are epic) naval battles! Ubisoft knew what they were doing when they applied the soundtrack to these missions, as they all flow right along with you across the high seas.
Last, Bethesda's Skyrim. Before even getting into the meat of this massive game, the title screen plays upon the questing hero within us all. There is no muss or fuss, just a black screen displaying the Skyrim logo, some wispy smoke at the bottom of the screen, a simple call to action, and a brilliant mix of sweeping instrumentals and gregorian-type chants.
Once in the game, the soundtrack is matched only by the beautiful world that Bethesda constructed. Towering mountains, sweeping plains, thick forests, all complimented by the ever-present symphony almost explaining to you the grand nature of this world. Each and every action taken in this game has its own music as well. Fights are accompanied by the high octane compositions, while dungeon crawling is met with haunting melodies and sound effects that you would never want to hear in "real" life.
Skyrim is a prime example of a soundtrack actually adding experience to a game. The other two I listed are perfect in their execution, but Skyrim's soundtrack actually adds a layer of complexity to the gameplay. As you progress further in the game, the music actually begins to act as a cue for certain areas or actions that are happening, or about to happen.
I can't imagine the effort needed to apply this, but it is done perfectly and only serves to make the game a greater feat of game design.
Well, that is it! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it represents some of the greatest soundtracks gaming has to offer. Enjoy!