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The biggest public survey for classic music in the world is over again for another year. Yet again The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams rules supreme at No.1, but music from video game soundtracks had its best representation yet in the 2015 countdown. A total of twelve pieces from games made it into the top 300 list, with several new entries and (arguably) better tracks being used to represent each franchise.
There were casualties, though. Austin Wintory’s score for Journey fell out of the chart this year, much to my own dismay. While I hope it makes a return next year, it doesn’t take away from the fact that the 4-day playlist was perhaps one of the best ones in recent memory. Before we get to our round-up, a quick honourable mention to Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, as Elliot Goldenthal’s score made a surprise appearance at #259. While the film didn’t set the world of fire like Squeenix hoped it would, there’s no denying that tracks like ‘Adagio and Transformation’ aren’t worthy of recognition.
Anyway, on with our countdown, with titles, composers, and links to the official listings over on Classic FM.
Martin O’ Donnell / Michael Salvatori
As ways to kick off a list go, this is probably the best one to do it with. The closing number of the Halo 3 soundtrack perfectly captures the grandeur of the series, as well as the memories of gamers everywhere to, as the title states, finish the fight (until the next one came out, obviously.) O’ Donnell’s themes are some of the most recognisable the games industry has produced, and his place on the countdown is more than justified.
While I apologise to our readership for what is probably going to be surmised as an “off-topic rant,” I also don’t apologise, because it is a topic close to my heart. You see, I’ve been agonising over it for weeks. Indecision has surrounded me and I’ve been unable to reach an internal consensus with the different points of view in my head. Do I go with the status quo, ensuring that familiarity and stability within the ranks remains, or do I put my faith in something new and radical? Either way, it’s time to act before it’s too late, and I’ll be damned if I miss my opportunity to make my voice heard.
I am of course talking about voting in the Classic FM Hall of Fame, which closes its public vote at the end of Saturday. For me, it has become an important yearly tradition, combining two of my favourite things – my passion for playing video games, and my love for music. After all, music has played a large part in my life. I grew up around it thanks to my family playing various instruments, going on to train on the violin from an early age, and later teach myself to play guitar in my teens. I even studied Music at A level and in higher education after that. With that in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I have a strong appreciation for soundtracks, especially those for video games.
Click here to read more...
If you enjoyed Dragon Age: Inquisition (we did) and more specifically enjoyed the beautifully haunting bard songs that were performed in the tavern, then listen up. BioWare are currently allowing anyone to download all of the tracks over on the official DAI website, for free! Not only that, but they've thrown in the sheet music as well so everyone can learn to play them (or even take part in the Fan Celebration Content that is currently ongoing.) The songs will only be free until Monday 9th February, so download the tracks now while you can!
We love Jeremy Soule's music here on Dealspwn. We even have a little MP3-playing hair doll of the musical maestro in the office that busts out 'Dragonborn' on loop.
Well. Not really. That would be weird. But there's definitely a shrine. Maybe.
Anyway, the BAFTA-award-winning Mr. Soule recently began a Kickstarter campaign for his first, unrestricted foray in classical music: Symphony No. 1, "The Northerner" (Opus 1). And it's already quadrupled the modest $10,000 goal.Click here to read more...
Bafta winning composer Jason Graves, the man who made us all soil ourselves with the creepily discordant tones and wails of Dead Space and its sequel, is placed front and centre for the latest in-depth development diary for Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider.
Titled The Sound of Survival, it takes a look at the scoring process for the game, how CD came to choose Graves for the job, and the motifs and themes that governed his composition.
Also, Zach Levi appears to have gone blonde. Which is weird. Really weird.Click here to read more...
Oooh, aren't BioWare feeling generous of late. As well as re-writing the ending to their most recent opus and giving it away for free, you can now download the soundtrack for absolutely nothing.Click here to read more...
Aside from the usual bit of media company name dropping, Microsoft unveiled their plan for cross-platform media domination...and it's called SmartGlass.
Marc Whitten, the head of Xbox Live, revealed that the service will connect your tablets, phones, and console together. A demo showing how you can send a movie from platform to platform, whilst receiving further information was shown at the Microsoft press conference today.Click here to read more...
Gorgeous PSN-exclusive Journey has a killer soundtrack courtesy of Austin Wintory, and thatgamecompany proudly reports that it has become a global iTunes phenomenon. The 18-track OST reached (and frequently topped) the overall top ten iTunes charts in over a dozen countries including Japan, Canada and Spain - and has dominated the soundtrack-specific charts in twenty nations. You can buy it here.
Journey's success is well-deserved, and with videogame scores becoming ever more accepted into the wider musical community, it's great to see another, smaller game's OST doing so well. In case you don't already know, Journey is one of this year's standout games, having garnered a 10/10 in our full review.
With two videogame tracks into the Classic FM Hall of Fame, this week's PWNCAST tackles the subject of music in games, we talk about a few of our favourite pieces and composers, about how music can make a good game great, and what the future holds for the music genre, along with our usual smattering of comment, whimsy, and attempts at singing.
PWNCAST | Season 1: Episode 10, Recorded: April 12th, 2012
Some of the things that get covered this week:
...and much, much more.
Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be quite a few instances of strong language.
Click below to play the file, or right click on the banner at the top, and select 'Save Link As' to download the file onto your hard drive.
Developer: Cold Beam Games
Beat Hazard has been around for a while, and those smart enough to check it out discovered a world of music-powered mayhem that rewarded players for keeping a varied discography. However, the newly-released Ultra DLC transforms Beat Hazard into the fully-rounded experience it deserved to be... and more importantly, the game we always wanted it to be.
At its core, Beat Hazard is a music visualiser. Once you've selected a song from your hard drive (most file formats are supported including .aac, .mp3, and .wma) or booted up one of the preset tunes, powerful invisible algorithms transform the music into a crisp HD star field that pulses and crackles with an insane amount of visual feedback. Cold Beam Games actually released this tool as a standalone application, but in Beat Hazard, you'll leap into the cockpit of a powerful space fighter and do battle against swarms of asteroids and enemies. These foes are dynamically and appropriately added into each song, meaning that every individual track is a self-contained and unique experience in and of itself. Sure, it's a twinstick shooter, but each level is an intricate dance of death that's immeasurably improved by the new Ultra DLC pack.
And hell, it even makes that mewling puke Rebecca Black sound acceptable. Let's watch.Click here to continue reading our Beat Hazard Ultra review >>
Carl and I had a chat the other day about video game composers, with an eye towards creating a list of the best for one of our Tuesday top ten lists. We have since realised the impossibility of that task. There are simply too many outstanding soundtracks out there, in too many different styles, from the sweeping, majestic scores of Final Fantasy to the tense, discord of Dead Space. Could composers with one fantastically scored game to their name outmuscle those with a consistently strong track record, if lacking an triple-A stunner? And what of the difference in styles between East and West? Could we sub-divide by genre?
Every previous list we looked over had glaring omissions. Every time we thought we'd reached a conclusion, another name was remembered. We were utterly stumped.
But one name was always a shoe-in...Click here to find out why we love Koji Kondo...
A few days ago, Dealspwn ground to a halt as us writers clustered around the warm, colourful glow of Rocket Riot. You might have expected us to have been enjoying the anarchic multiplayer modes of Codeglue's spectacular XBLA debut - or collaborating in a tense cooperative attempt to get ourselves its coveted You Can Handle The Riot achievement. Hell, you might have just expected my colleagues to be admiring how crap I am at the rugby challenges.
But no. We were listening to the Rocket Riot theme tune. Over... and over... and over again. Whilst dancing around like idiots.
Let me explain. Rocket Riot boasted an impeccable nu-retro style in every aspect of its presentation; including lavish sprites and destructible cover made from thousands of independent pixel blocks (bloxels?). But when it came to the soundtrack, SonicPicnic worked their little dutch socks off to create a truly exceptional set of musical interludes. Mixing classic chiptune vibes with pumping electronica was a great fit for the game - but when it comes right down to it, the theme is one of the most impressive pieces of videogame composition we've ever heard.Here we go now, hold on tight. Rocket Riot! Rocket Riot! >>
Dragon Age 2 hit the shelves this morning - and we'll have a full review for you shortly - but many gamers were amazed at how quickly BioWare managed to churn it out. 18 months is incredibly fast for a triple-A release, and Dragon Age 2's composer has stated that the release is a "rush job"... as well as suggesting that there might be a fair few bugs to squash on the audio side of things.Click here for more details...