The Ultimate Video Game Soundtracks from the Last Decade

Written by Chris Baxter
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The Ultimate Video Game Soundtracks from the Last Decade You'll want to turn your headphones up for this one!

It's no secret that a great video game is only made even better by a brilliant soundtrack. Whether it's to add a little excitement to intense scenes or keep you entertained during moments of buffering, a great song can make all the difference to the game-playing experience.

So intertwined are music and video gaming that games have been the inspiration for many songs, and indeed songs have provided inspiration for some of the moments in the video games that we've chosen here. If you're a music fan who enjoys a spot of gaming occasionally, you'll want to pick up these titles and pay close attention to just how masterful their soundtracks are.

Grand Theft Auto V

There are lots of different ways in which games use music, but the Grand Theft Auto series pioneered a small but distinct type. In this series, the developers use a radio station format to delineate between getting in and out of the car. Whilst in the car, you'll be able to flick through a selection of radio stations, but once you're outside, you listen only to the noise of the world around you. This gives an entirely different vibe to your 'in-car time', which is important in a game where you spend so much time driving.

Not only are the car radio stations a clever way of creating the authentic in-car feeling, they also play some great tunes. Grand Theft Auto has always been known for both celebrating the hit artists of the moment and also the up-and-coming artists too. There are always multiple radio stations per game, each playing a different genre of music. Some GTA titles contain up to a possible 404 songs to land on, providing a broad listening spectrum for all players. With this much dedication to music, the GTA games provide a time capsule for the years surrounding their release, making them even more memorable for those who loved playing them.

Red Dead Redemption II

Whilst this isn't a list entirely dedicated to Rockstar Games, it has to be acknowledged that they sure know their way around a soundtrack. Our next pick is Red Dead Redemption II, another game from this brilliant developer. This game takes a wildly different approach to GTA, not least because you'll be spending absolutely none of your time in a car. Instead, you'll be exploring the countryside on horseback, which requires something a little different from floor fillers and absolute anthems from the noughties.

Instead, a whole team of researchers scoured archives for information on the kind of songs that might have been heard in 19th-century America. They came up with hymns, folk songs, sea shanties, poems, and music clips, including banjos, bagpipes, harmonicas, and fiddles. They accumulated all of this information and reformatted it for video game generation. The result is a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack that moves and changes as you make your way through the landscape. It's reminiscent of times gone by, with some lyrics rewritten for clarity but, generally, everything re-recorded faithfully to the source material. We can't wait for the next edition of the game.



Jazz 1 2

                      Somehow big band music creates a sinister feel to this game.

The final game on our list takes yet another different approach. Cuphead is a brilliantly clever game developed by Studio MDHR. It sees the titular character Cuphead go on an adventure to absolve himself of his debts with the devil. Though the subject matter is arguably about as dark as it gets, the game's overall feel is very different. The graphics are reminiscent of a 1920s newspaper cartoon, and the team behind the soundtrack ran with that theme to create a cohesive, if slightly unsettling, experience.

The soundtrack features big band tunes, swing and jive, all from the jazz era. There's plenty of brass, soulful voices and a good-time feeling. It sounds like a wonderful time, but the gritty subject matter of the story leaves the whole thing feeling pretty strange. If you enjoy video games that play like art pieces almost as well as they work as games, then you must pick this game up.


Read 1639 times Last modified on Sunday, 04 June 2023 13:49
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Chris Baxter

Chris Baxter

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