Top 3 Video Game Soundtracks of 2013

Hands down, my favorite genre of music is soundtrack. I love soundtracks because they bring back the emotion of the movie, game, or show every time I listen. As video games have become a more advanced entertainment medium, their soundtracks have evolved from synthesizers to full orchestras. Even accomplished film composers such as Hans Zimmer have begun lending their talents to the video game industry. As a video editor, I understand how important music is to a project and the emotional impact it can have on the viewer. Come to think of it, that’s probably another reason why I love the genre so much…

Of all of the video game soundtracks released in 2013 that I listened to, here are my Top 3 picks:

 

#3. Grand Theft Auto V, Vol. 2: The Score – Tangerine Dream, Woody Jackson, The Alchemist, Oh No & DJ Shadow

Suggested Tracks: We Were Set Up, A Legitimate Business Man, Welcome To Los Santos [Outro]

If you have ever played a Grand Theft Auto game, you will know that they are a fast-paced, action-packed, and an all around crazy game experience. It makes it appropriate therefore for the music to match the setting. Volume 2 of the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack aids itself well to the creation and feel of the city of Los Santos with a very modern, beat-based sound along with a few touches of some retro synthesizers. A few of the tracks also incorporate a horn section that sounds like it came out of an 80s detective movie, which is an ideal parallel to the heists you perform.  The score to Grand Theft Auto V is the perfect musical companion that makes speeding, shooting, flying, swimming, or just plain walking through the city of Los Santos a great ride.

 

#2. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Brian Tyler

Suggested Tracks: Main Theme, The Ends of the Earth, Queen Anne’s Revenge

With all of the lore and action that is automatically associated to a story about pirates it is expected that the music should reflect the strong sense of adventure that comes with sailing the high seas. Brian Tyler’s score to Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag succeeds in attaining that adventurous feel, with strong motifs and an energetic orchestral score. In my opinion, the bar was set very high for “pirate music” with Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack to the Pirates of the Caribbean series, but Brian Tyler has given an equally strong contribution. I remember that as soon as the main theme began playing on the menu screen, I knew that I was in for an epic journey which earned this soundtrack the number 2 spot on this list.

 

#1. The Last of Us – Gustavo Santaolalla

Suggested Tracks: The Last of Us, The Path, Smugglers

The Last of Us is without a doubt the best game I have ever played. I could (and probably will) write a whole post on why I love it so much. Never before have I connected and become more emotionally involved to the characters and story of a video game. A huge part of creating that connection was because of the fantastic score.

The Last of Us is an amazing soundtrack not because of huge, swelling themes but because of it’s elegant simplicity. The majority of the tracks have one main instrument, usually a stringed instrument, being played with the orchestra subtly supporting in the background. It’s very haunting, and hits all the highs and lows Joel and Ellie’s journey through the post-apocalyptic landscape. Composer Gustavo Santaolalla used the main theme of the soundtrack and blended it throughout with various tempos and instruments to build a cohesive sounding yet distinct track list. An interesting note is that throughout the soundtrack there is not one loud, driving song that really pushes an action sequence forward. For the few action tracks there are, the tempo will increase, the instruments are played more aggressively, but the score never loses it’s minimalistic tone.

Mr. Santaolalla, who has won numerous awards for his work in film, said in an interview with Playstation that The Last of Us was his first foray into the video game industry. He did not disappoint, and perfectly captured the world of The Last of Us in his moving score.

 

If you liked this list and want to hear more of my favorites, follow my soundtrack playlist on Spotify!

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