Top 7 Great Game Moments When “That” Song Kicks In
There are many games with great soundtracks, and sometimes those soundtracks are present throughout the whole game. Hotline Miami. Dustforce. Bioshock Infinite. Ducktales. Journey. From retro to modern, some of the best music in the world has featured in games. But sometimes, a game features a moment when “that” songs kicks in. The song that perfectly complements the events in the game. That perfectly fits the tone of the moment. That makes you notice just how amazing a job the soundtrack is doing in immersing you in the game world.
Everyone will have their own choices for this list. Yours will be very different from mine. Why not tell me about yours in the comments below? For now though, here are my 7 musical moments where I felt unrestrained elation as “that” song kicked in.
Max Payne 3
Max Payne 3 featured a brilliant, ambient soundtrack by Health. It’s restrained and subdued for the most part, and the degree to which it adds to the atmosphere of the game can’t be understated.
But towards the end of the game, in the iconic airport scene, Health are let off their metaphorical leash. The soundtrack waxes lyrical for the first time and it builds steadily and beautifully. Up till this moment, I had been loving Max Payne 3 without realizing it was because of the soundtrack. At this point, I was loving it so much I almost forgot about the game.
Read Dead Redemption
If people comment on one moment in Red Dead Redemption, it’s normally the ending. If they mention a second though, it’s this gorgeous piece. Played as you explore a whole new land mass in the game, it’s hopeful but forlorn at the same time. In other words, it perfectly matches the games theme of the fading of the old ways and the dawning of the new.
Shadowman comes from the heyday of the N64 and the early days of 3D third person adventure games. Like an adult Zelda, it was groundbreaking at the time as it introduced a dark and frightening world of serial killers and dead children to the otherwise rainbow coloured palette of Nintendo’s bright and cheery selection of titles.
As you track down and defeat the most notorious serial killers from history, you occasionally venture from the terrifying Deadside to the world of the living. In this case, your defeat of one of the worst killers of all time is accompanied by an iconic, appropriate piece of classical music. This musical choice seems to say that even though the enemy is dead, too much evil has occurred for any joy to result from their demise.
I mentioned above that Bioshock Infinite has a soundtrack that is brilliant from start to finish. Still, with its alternate versions of music from throughout different time periods, it’s a game where you’re ears are constantly straining to hear whether your favourite songs are in the mix. As a result, it’s impossible to play without occasionally stopping and listening in amazement as you stumble across a melody you recognise as you explore Columbia, but in a totally different form than you remember it.
My personal most memorable moment was the performance of The Beach Boys “God Only Knows”, but for a slightly more esoteric choice I have to mention Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” that you hear in this beach scene.
Spec ops: The Line
Spec ops: The Line is not a great game. It is however an interesting one. Interesting enough for someone to write fifty thousand words on it, analyzing the themes and events of every part of the story.
Crazy academic scribblings aside, it also has some kick ass, trippy 60’s rock and roll. Echoing the futility of war through music that evokes Vietnam via Apocalypse Now, it’s got a gut punch of a soundtrack. In this moment in particular, when this song kicks in as you battle waves of enemies, it’s impossible to think of anything but news reports from the 60’s showing horrible atrocities committed by the US in “The Nam”.
Barely even music, Totaka’s theme is a basic nineteen note melody hid in every game made by designer Kazumi Totaka of Nintendo. Every time he releases a game, the hunt is on to once again find where the theme will be!
Silent Hill 2
As anyone who has read this site for a while will know, Akira Yamaoka is one of my favourite game composers of all time. Silent Hill 2 was a strange game for me though. I only loved it in retrospect; at the time, although I loved the story and themes, I hated the gameplay. As a result, I would often just let the game idol so I could watch the excellent intro screen over and over, while listening to some of the greatest game music ever written.
So those are my choices. What would you have picked?