Geek Revolt

The Neglected Majesty of Videogame Soundtracks

In any form of media, sound is not only an integral piece of foundation for your body of work, it has the power to evoke hitherto unknown emotions and sensations within. I know that sounded like the beginning of a media students’ essay but I don’t care. I am, of course, not talking about the sound of an enemy soldier’s brains being casually splattered over the wall behind him, nor the sound of twisting metal as you crash feet-first into an innocent bollard, I’m talking about videogame scores.

If your idea of good music in a videogame is that incessantly banal thrashing of heavy guitar riffs in not so much as a soundtrack, more an unrelenting assault on both the ears, the mind and good old fashioned sense, I highly suggest you leave now and never turn back. This sort of musical abomination is most often found skulking around the very adolescent menus of first person shooters and the number ‘3’.

This outpouring of gooey musical sentiment was brought on by this fantastic Facebook campaign, Get Video Games Music into the Classic FM Hall of Fame, started by Mark Robins. His aim is not only to support videogame music in its entirety but to try and make sure that a piece makes it into Classic FM’s Hall of Fame 2012 for the first time in the history of the definitive classical music poll, the piece he has selected for appraisal is Aerith’s Theme by Nobuo Uematsu, hailing from Final Fantasy VII.

Today was the first time I’d ever heard the song but my word, it captures the very essence of what makes videogame music marvellous and arguably unique; the beauteous and magnificent worlds in which these characters inhabit, as well as the inevitable terrifying lows, dizzying highs and creamy middles. Whilst being the heathen I am, I’m still yet to play Final Fantasy VII but this song alone paints a more vivid picture of the world, and even the characters, than I could imagine on my lonesome. Okay, you don’t have to necessarily vote for this song or even consider it at all, but if you’ve ever felt a modicum of emotion from a videogame soundtrack, I implore you to vote at once… or even thrice.

My personal favourite, for what it’s worth, is undoubtably the ‘main theme’ from Bioshock, called The Ocean on His Shoulders by Gary Schyman, the man responsible for the entire soundtrack to both Bioshock 1 and 2 -although the less said about the second game, the better- In my limited and  experience, no single of piece of music both captures the essence of the game, but also the emotion which yourself and ‘Jack’ feel. Nothing is a better accompaniment when, for the first time, you descend into Rapture in the bathysphere and lay your eyes on the city for the first time; the sense of isolation and abject dispair, coupled with an odd sense of intrigue, mystery and an urge to uncover what the bloody hell’s going on down in Rapture. That piece essentially is Rapture and everything it encompasses, the heartbreaking audio diaries from people either long dead or long spliced, complete and utter strangers but still your heart pangs at their plight.

Even the Battlefield series, at least up until Battlefield 3, had an absolutely marvellous score and theme, nothing is more reflective of the optimism of war. Although for some utterly appalling and depraved reason, DICE seemed to abandon the orchestra in favour of what is essentially radio static. I’m talking to you, Johann Skugge. I guess this change in music was just a non-so-subtle way of DICE simply not wanting my custom anymore.

Music is good, music is great and if you’ve ever sat back and actively listened to the marvellous score in sheer, unadulterated admiration then I urge you to go forth and spew your aural adoration wherever you can and for God’s sake, vote for something.

I'm DeShaun Zollicoffer, and I approve this message/bio. "28-years-old, Proud Northeast Ohioan, a Gamer Without Loyalties, an Equal Opportunity Offender, Apple Evangelist, Apple Hater, Music Lover, Anime Junkie, Little Monster, Frequent Flyer, Dexter Fanatic, Title Case Addict, and Geek Revolt's Founder and Editorial Director."