Inspired by this post about the music throughout the Mass Effect series, I started thinking about all of the excellent soundtracks that I’ve enjoyed while playing games. This is by no means an exhaustive list; please comment and share some of your favorite video game soundtracks too! I’d love to listen to more.
Mass Effect 3 – It was highlighted in the article I linked to above, but it does make my personal list of favorite soundtracks. The compilation overall takes you through a range of emotions, but there are some individual tracks that can take you from elation to heartbreak to resolve within a four minute space of time. Definitely worth a listen through, if you’re looking for a well-rounded, very orchestral driven experience. Not to mention, it makes you feel like whatever you’re doing within your cubicle is contributing to saving the galaxy!
Red Dead Redemption – The soundtrack of RDR made a huge chunk of the atmosphere of this game. When the genre “western” enters most people’s heads, they think of hackneyed banjo music with a clanky washboard accompaniment. How refreshing then that the music used to great the bring depth to the western theme in RDR wasn’t twangy or cliche at all. Some of these tracks are unnerving, most are energizing, and a few (particularly the song through the credits “Deadman’s Gun” by Ashtar Command) can bring you to tears. Although the songs with lyrics are closer to the end of the game, the three of them are my favorites on the album. Do yourself a favor, get lost in the old west by listening to this soundtrack.
Splice – You can read in the game title link that I’ve already highlighted this incredible soundtrack. Ethereal and stirring, it brings you along a ride you didn’t think possible with a protagonist-less puzzler. The movement that takes the audience on a journey is the incredible strength in every song on this soundtrack. You’ll be doing a disservice to yourself if you don’t check out this soundtrack (free to preview in its entirety on bandcamp).
Bastion – This . . . this soundtrack is perfection. I saved the best for last. I’ve heard this soundtrack be compared to the Firefly soundtrack, which I thought was fitting. It gives off a non-western (hemisphere) vibe, mixed with a few, very subtle western (cowboy) themes. A diverse range of instruments orchestrate every track, and the songs with vocalists are . . . haunting, but in the best most moving way possible. I realize all of these descriptions sound very hyperbolic, but seriously, this one . . . the money soundtrack, undoubtedly.
Like I said, there are lots of other game soundtracks I love (Catch-22, Braid, Super Meat Boy, Cave Story, Chrono Trigger, Donkey Kong, etc.) but these are really some of the cream of the crop. I’ll also take this chance to give a shoutout to a YouTube artist who does incredible acapella covers of video game songs. He hits some of the most popular jams (e.g. Guile’s Theme from Super Street Fighter 2) as well as a few more obscure hits that are just great songs (e.g. DuckTales’ Moon Theme). His username is Smooth McGroove and if you love raw talent recreating your favorite video game tracks, you have to go and subscribe!
Having only gotten an Xbox and Xbox Live account in the past year, as well as getting more into PC gaming, and having never really played FPS, I’ve never had to endure the world of online multiplayer. I say endure because the first time I attempted it, I downloaded and played a FtP MMORPG that I could only go so far in, independently. Then it was pretty much required that I join up with some other players to attack a dungeon and defeat a boss for the next storyline quest. But I still felt really newb-tastic and having to actually talk to all these impressive warriors running by me on the dusty road was too intimidating. So I stopped playing, relieved that I wouldn’t develop an addiction because I didn’t want to interact with others online.
I should probably dispel any possible misconceptions now; for the most part, I’m not completely anti-social. True, I don’t do much with people, ever, but when I do, I like to believe I’m fairly easy to talk to and relatable. Thankfully I don’t only talk about video games, and I can read social cues to know when to shut up or when to probe further about someone else’s hobby because they want to talk about it. But for some reason, the faceless, nameless judgment of someone else online is something I’d like to avoid at just about all costs.
So I bought Red Dead Redemption and never tried multiplayer, and started Team Fortress 2 and only played bots and tried out League of Legends and only played bots too. And then I bought Mass Effect 3. And to get the “perfect ending” (which I definitely wanted because I’m that anal retentive), I had to play multiplayer. So, expecting the worst, I logged in and started, and loved it! Co-operative team play with others, no friendly fire, this was my kind of multiplayer! I did get a bad player review from someone, and I’m completely unsure why, and it still really bothers me, but that’s obviously indicative of deeper psychological issues I have, ha. (In my defense it’s my only player review so it looks like I’m a really terrible person to play with because 100% of the people that have rated me, hated me).
With a positive multiplayer experience under my belt, I thought I’d finally give a non-bot run-through of TF2 a try, and surprisingly, everyone was nice there as well. It did prove to be more frustrating as I was dominated most of the games by really good players, but slowly my skills improved and I started setting personal bests with Demoman and I felt pretty good.
This all led up to finally trying RDR multiplayer, so I could start getting some of those multiplayer achievements. And the first time I tried it (months ago), I got wasted often, realized that you could actually roll in the game (I got 99.5% completion in the game without realizing that you could roll your character . . . sad), and got a couple of Xbox Live stranger-friends out of a full weekend of multiplayer. I then lent the game to a friend who just got an Xbox and had no money, and just tried multiplayer again for the second time this weekend. And now I’ve seen the true side of multiplayer that I hear about in CoD, Halo, and other games in the same genre.
I may just be in a generally irritable mood, but there were four out of this world good players who I magically never got reshuffled to be on their team (because I acknowledge that I would have been loving it if they were completely annihilating my enemies, instead of me and my teammates), and I got killed by over and over and over again. The last time I played, I recognized that I was generally getting better and better. This time, I spent most of the session re-spawning and watching myself die.
Then, someone on my own team shot me in the head so they could take my cover spot. What the hell is that about! How rude can you be! I tried to withstand the temptation, but a few rounds later, I had an opportunity to just blow this particular player away and I’m sad to say I took the opportunity to “get even,” which the more multiplayer-educated among you are now laughing because there is no “getting even.” The player simply shot me in the head again, a few rounds later. I then sent a choicely worded and explicit message to the player asking them to stop, submitted a bad player review, and quit because I was so frustrated.
The great thing about having a blog that only a few people read is that you don’t feel so bad when you rant and ramble without purpose. I suppose the purpose is venting, and saying that I suppose multiplayer isn’t all bad, but man . . . Red Dead Redemption multiplayer is highly frustrating. And I’m sure there are many people who would read my TF2 description and say “Really!? What server were you on, the rainbows and butterflies server?” So for the sake of my blood pressure and faith in humanity, maybe I’ll just stick with ME3 multiplayer. And it’s good to try different multiplayer experiences out – if only to confirm that I’m more grateful than not that I can’t play most FPS.
Vent your multiplayer frustrations, or share whatever you want about multiplayer. Do you guys hate it or love it? Or you are wiser than I am and realize it’s a mixed bag most of the time?
I return in the midst of what I’m sure is e-rotten fruit being thrown at me and e-boos at being gone so long. When I’m sick, I view playing video games as expending energy, and when I’m sick, I expend zero energy. Also, the apocryphal gaming PC I’ve mentioned before is finally all en route to my apartment (in pieces) and because I’m so excited to do some real PC gaming for the first time ever, consoles and 14” laptop screens are just not holding any appeal for me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what this is going to mean for my Xbox. My Wii is just collecting dust at this point, which makes me sad, but someday . . . someday I’ll get back to it. Anyway, with Steam sales and Amazon sales, digital distribution is simply the cheapest route for gaming and most games today are on Xbox and the PC. So will my Xbox fall to the wayside as I dedicate my soul to PC gaming only?
My first reaction is no. During the steam sale I almost bought L.A. Noire for $5 (and I should have, really) but something tugging at the back of my mind said “No. Rockstar games are meant to be appreciated with a controller in your hand.” Which, of course I can plug a controller into my PC so . . . really, I should’ve bought it. Damn.
Anyway, there are still some mind blocks telling me that I want to do some things on console and some things on PC. I have heard from multiple sources that the Witcher series, although being recently ported to the Xbox, is far superior still on the PC. But, I’ve always loved lazily turning on my console on a weekend morning and playing some casual action game. I believe the developers of Super Meat Boy or maybe it was Fez, had something to say about that (something that agreed with me, that the feeling of playing on a console is just unbeatable) but as I’m writing this, I’m realizing how silly it sounds for me, personally.
I have my consoles and TV in my room. I’m using my TV as a monitor for my PC, and I can plug in my Xbox controller to play with it on my PC. My experiences are going to be . . . next to the same, on either system. The separation between PC gaming and console gaming will be almost gone, with any differences weighing down the benefits of console gaming. As someone who has only console gamed her entire life, this is a sad realization, not because I think console gaming is superior to PC gaming, but because it is familiar.
I never got into the debates about “which was better” because I think its apples to oranges. There is a clear winner in the graphics and speed department, but I think the nostalgia and cheaper alternative is a valuable side of the argument as well. We’ll see how much I keep using my Xbox, and given the exclusive nature of Wii titles, I’m sure I’ll come back to it to get a Mario or Zelda fix, but I wouldn’t be surprised if PC gaming took over my gaming life. The only things raising any doubt are awesome Xbox Live Arcade game exclusives. Other than that, I may be turning into a PC girl . . . Although I’ll probably never sell it because who knows when the next Red Dead Redemption is coming around, that will be another console-exclusive?
Do you guys PC and console game? Do you have strong feelings one way or the other? Leave a comment, let’s discuss.