Features & News

End of Year 2014: Best Soundtrack

December 16, 2014, Author: The TIMJ Team

Welcome to the second of eleven daily ‘End of Year’ pieces from TIMJ, where in each, we discuss our favourite things of 2014 from carefully selected categories.

Next up is ‘Best Soundtrack’. Which melodies have stuck in our brains long after pads have been put down?

Dan Moore (Staff Writer) – Destiny

For me, the best soundtrack has to be Destiny. My love of big orchestral scores has steadily increased over the years, and Bungie’s latest has everything you could possibly want from an epic shooter score, adding to the action and getting the heart racing when it needs to.

Paul McCartney’s influence cannot be particularly picked out, but that is why I like it. If it had been all about the fact he contributed to the creation of it, it would have felt like an ego stroke for him and pandering on the part of Bungie. Fortunately that doesn’t happen, and he helps with a deft touch, creating a score that fills every part of the game at large and brings it all together.

It’s just a shame they fired Marty O’Donnell, because having him make more of the music for the full game would have been perfect.

Runners Up: OlliOlli, Halo: Master Chief Collection

Andy Buick (Features Editor) – Velocity 2X

Velocity 2X‘s soundtrack perfectly matches the speed and precision within the game, only serving to heighten the adrenalin rush of playing it. A real triumph of sound emulating action.

Runners Up: InFamous: Second Son, Child of Light

Josué Cardona (Staff Writer) – Halo: Master Chief Collection

While actually four soundtracks, and four old ones, the Halo 2 Anniversary soundtrack is all new music and it’s fantastic. I love the music of the Halo games and having four-in-one makes it the clear winner. Marty O’Donnell’s scores are some of my favorites and without the iconic music, Halo just isn’t the same to me. It’s a great time to be a Halo fan (multiplayer issues notwithstanding).

Runners Up: Transistor, Super Smash Bros.

Andy Corrigan (Editor In Chief) – Child of Light

This was a hugely tough decision for me, but I’m going to opt for Cœur de Pirate’s wonderful work on Child of Light. Comparative to the music of Ghibli’s Joe Hisaishi, Child of Light’s soundtrack feels almost symbiotically bound to its other components, perfectly capturing the mood of every mechanic and scene, whether that’s being sorrowful, adventurous or in providing a magnificent sense of wonder.

So good is this soundtrack, that it’s one of only two video-game albums to make it onto my iPhone this year, with the song ‘Dark Creatures’ proving a particular favourite.

Runners Up: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

Jonn Blanchard (Staff Writer) – Destiny

Destiny has to win this one by a mile. Largely scripted by Paul McCartney and Marty O’Donnell (before Bungie consigned him to the trash heap), this soundtrack takes all the emotion and drama from Halo and adds in a spooky, futuristic overture. It does the same great job of building you up to the shooty action as its predecessor does. Whilst the soundtrack is classic O’Donnell, you can definitely hear McCartney’s influences with some of the tracks having an almost, dare I say it, ‘Wings’ hint to them.

O’Donnell must surely go down as one of the greatest composers in game history and this, his swansong in the Bungie world, is a masterpiece of the art.

Bungie games are an anachronism in the shooter world, where other companies use hard-hitting rock or rap anthems to build the action, the soaring orchestral themes that are so prevalent here do a far better job of lifting the gamer up. I hope Bungie don’t change tack in the post O’Donnell world, but I can’t help but feel that their games will lack some of the magic that they have in the past. Hopefully they can still call on the services of Michael Salvatori.

Runners Up: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, Grand Theft Auto V

Jade Sayers (Staff Writer) – Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f 2nd

Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA f 2nd has some of the most infectious tunes going. It’s filled with songs that will permeate your brain for days, making replays a lot more bearable (and if you suck as much as I do at this game, there’ll be a lot of replays).

Runners Up: Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, The Last of Us Remastered

James Sheppard (Reviews Editor) – Final Fantasy X / X2 HD Remaster

Much has been said about the impact on the senses of a game’s sound design and how important it can be to the overall experience. With that in mind, my pick for best soundtrack of 2014 is… a game originally from 2001, Final Fantasy X HD Remaster. The OST has been almost fully re-orchestrated, so I’m counting it. Deal with it.

There are some truly fantastic pieces in the FFX soundtrack, from the tear-jerking main theme to the insanely catchy battle tune that I never get bored of hearing, despite it playing in almost every single fight. FFX ranks up there as one of my favourite JRPGs of all time, and its soundtrack is integral in making it such a compelling game.

Honourable mentions go to Mario Kart 8’s soundtrack which is just so gloriously… Nintendo, and Danganronpa, with dark, addictive synth tracks that add to the fascinatingly oppressive atmosphere.

Runners Up: Mario Kart 8, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

Jasper Pickering (Staff Writer) – Transistor

My favourite soundtrack of 2014 was from Transistor. The story of a voiceless singer journeying through a rapidly decaying city was beautifully realised through ambient sound and original music; all sung by the protagonist before the loss of her immense talent. Close to nothing is seen of Cloudbank before the attack of the Process, but the music harks back to a time when the streets would be full of citizens going about their day. The music itself adds a layer of depth to what otherwise would have been a hollow backdrop, and is also enhanced by the fantastic narration that blends intimately with the soundtrack. It creates an atmosphere of both deep sense of loss and a need for reclamation.

The song ‘We All Become‘ was used in the original teaser trailer last year and could easily have made an excellent showcase for Transistor by itself. It was a huge testament to the quality of the music from such an early stage and cemented Supergiant Games’ reputation for creating excellent audio-visual design. Their previous game Bastion created tough shoes to fill, and fill them they did.

Runners Up: Child of Light, Grand Theft Auto V

Matt Parker (News Editor) – Hohokum

This is a soundtrack that’s on par with Katamari Damacy. A wonderful mix of artists with each song fitting so perfectly with each ‘level’, it’s hard to think of another track being used.

Hohokum‘s music is about the only cue you get from the game at certain points. Different elements of the track rise and fall in volume as you get near points of interest, meaning you really need to listen. This would get very old very quickly if it weren’t for the great music.

Runners Up: Shadow Warrior, Transistor

Matt Best (Staff Writer) – Destiny

Best soundtrack would definitely have to go to Destiny. The weighty and driven tunes add further atmosphere to tense situations. When the battle increases in intensity, so too does the music, working together to get your pulse and trigger finger racing. Even in the quiet moments, the music helps build your sense of dread as you walk around the next corner, not knowing what lies ahead.

I never found the music repetitive as can sometimes happen, and I often felt disappointed when the battle was won and the music stopped. A good measure of a soundtrack is asking yourself if would you listen to it outside of the game, and in this case I would.

Runners Up: Alien: Isolation, The Crew