Music in Games (Part 3)

walkmanMetal Gear Solid V, The Man Who Sold the World.

I think frequent gamers would agree that the quality of the game soundtracks are evolving and changing and we are seeing a greater variation in the music. Developers are giving the music a bigger role, and even showing the guts to use music that is low key for even the most epic games. Some try to challenge the genres by exploring new directions in music. It is impossible to say what the future role of music in games will look like, but I think (and hope) that it’s going to keep surprising us. With that being said, the third part of the Music in Games series will focus on some of our more recent game soundtracks.

Metal Gear Solid V, The Man Who Sold the World.

Originally written and performed by David Bowie, the cover version of The Man Who Sold the World was recorded in 1982 by Midge Ure and later used for the Metal Gear Solid V soundtrack in 2015. As with many of the songs used in the MGS games, it has a unique sound that gives the game a lot of character. The track first appears in the opening scene of the game, playing in the backround as the protagonist wakes up in a hospital.

The way the music is used as a tool for storytelling in MGS V is really impressive. Without giving anything away, some of the music in the game builds up as the game progresses and provides the player with clues to the story.

Tales From the Borderlands, Kiss The Sky.

The episode intros of Tales From the Borderlands are pure magic. (I even considered posting them, but you deserve better – play the game!). Kiss the Sky by Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra is the intro song of the second episode, playing in the background as the characters are forced to endure a chaotic ride driving their veichle through the deserts of Pandora, all playing out in slow motion. It is a fantastic way to kickstart each episode, and it instantly draws the player in.

Fallout 4, Atom Bomb Baby by The Five Stars.

The post apocalyptic world of Fallout 4 came to be the absurd place it is because of nuclear war, so to use tracks like “Atom Bomb Baby” and “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” seem quite fitting. There is also a retro vibe to the game, so to use a retro sound on the soundtrack shows a lot of thought. In the game you can use your Pip-Boy as a radio, and just like you would listen to your car radio while driving, most people tend to use their Pip-Boy as a radio while they explore the game.

Uncharted 4, Nate’s Theme.

Uncharted 4 came to be the last game in the series and fans got to say goodbye to their favorite adventurer Nathan Drake. You can sense this farewell in the soundtrack, and as I read all the comments on youtube it’s quite clear just how important a soundtrack can be to people who have been deeply invested in a game or game series. It takes a lot of time to create a game, and if they’re successful, like Uncharted, they get sequels which means that a majority of the fans have followed the protagonist for over a decade. 

The Last of Us, The main theme.

The most interesting aspect of the The Last of Us soundtrack is the way the minimalistic sound creates an epic atmosphere in the game. Despite the fact that The Last of Us is a survival horror game, the composer Gustavo Santaolalla and his team decided to create an emotional soundtrack rather than a scary one. They also decided to explore and to use a variety of instruments that were foreign to them going into the project. The soundtrack has been nominated for several awards.

I really recommend this short video with behind the scenes footage:

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Author: Saga Grönqvist

Cultural project manager, sfx makeup entusiast, comic book collector, gamer and an adventurer at heart.

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