How dull would videogames be without sound? They’d be pretty damn dull if you ask me, which you didn’t, but I’m telling you anyway. There isn’t a videogame out there that doesn’t have at least some sort of audio, be it as simple as Pong’s bleeps and bloops or as complex as any of today’s modern games with voice work, musical score and the like. Every once in a while, however, a game comes along and out does itself with terrific audio. The following list contains the Top-Ten gaming titles with the most memorable audio ever heard in a game:
10: Double Dragon (NES)
Double Dragon is older than dirt; few people realize just how old it is. The game dates way back to the days of the Atari 2600. Now that is old. The interesting thing is Double Dragon had some of the best music and, perhaps, the coolest theme song of its time. There was no voice acting and the sound effects left something to be desired, but the music was spot on. It was quick, varied, and suited the game down to a tee. Boss battles were made all the more dramatic thanks to the music, while the steady, synthesized keyboard kept you engrossed in the action. While most of today’s videogames use advanced sound effects and voice work to keep you in tune, games of the past used music as their main way to express the occurring drama. This level of creativity is what makes Double Dragon the groovy blast-from-the-past that it is.
9: Call of Duty (PC)
Call of Duty, the World War II title from Activision, released in 2003, has some of the best audio ever created for a World War II themed videogame. Weapons all sound perfect and true to their real-life counterparts, while the ambience submerges you deep into the action. With the proper speaker set-up, you can actually feel the explosions as they erupt with satisfying booms. Voice work is also perfectly executed – the shouts of your teammates and those of your enemies convey the dramatic action unfolding around you. Also, listening to your commanders give you orders feels authentic, as they sound appropriately tired, out of breath and scared, all while keeping their composure and remaining firmly in charge. Lastly is the musical score, which was composed by the award-winning Michael Giacchino. The score is truly movie quality and helps provide an admirably authentic atmosphere. Some of the most powerful scenes in the game were made that way thanks to the work of Mr. Giacchino.
8: Halo (Xbox)
The music in Halo is probably its most noticeable feature, though it has many. Bass and drums are used the most throughout the score, giving it a primitive, almost tribal feel. This helps make the battles feel more raw and brutal, which is exactly as they should feel. However, the most unique music on show during the game is its main theme, created by Marty O’Donnell. It’s actually quite interesting how he came about creating it: “Basically, there was no one else to do [the vocals] at two in the morning. I ended up using about 100 of me multi’d over and over in Pro Tools.” Fancy that! On top of the game’s amazing score is its exemplary voice work. Like many modern videogames, the vocals are recorded by professionals to give the game the most cinematic experience – and Halo is no different in that regard. With such great audio, among other things, no wonder Halo is beloved by Xbox fans.
7: Max Payne 2 (PC)
The most important thing to note here is that Max Payne’s audio quality rises through its outstanding voice work. The dialogue breathes tangible life into the environments and truly makes you feel as though you are wandering the hostile streets of New York City while being surrounded by those who want to hurt you. Many tidbits of information and some humorous conversations can be overheard if you keep quiet and just listen. On top of the impressive dialogue is the musical score. All the music is deep, dark, and moody – it really helps to set the scene. Not only is it a useful mood setting device, it is also beautifully realized; truth be told, I actually have the main theme recorded on my PC just so I can appreciate it from time to time. Last of all are the weaponry sounds, all of which never fall short of satisfyingly authentic; emanating deep, resonating cracks and booms, suitably befitting the general aural standard. Max Payne 2 is a definite pleasure to the ears.
6: Metal Gear Solid (PSX)
Once again, and as is becoming the norm in my Top-Ten lists, I fear I must touch upon the gaming greatness that is Metal Gear Solid. I must illustrate the absolutely magnificent level of audio work that was achieved through this videogame. The voice work is unfailingly amazing and extremely professionally done – as it of course should be. Weapons sound great – the sharp crack of the SOCOM pistol as you take out an enemy soldier gives a great amount of satisfaction, while blowing through a group of baddies with the FA-MAS just makes you feel totally badass and unstoppable. The most impressive element of the audio is, once again, the musical score. MGS is the first videogame I can remember that actually inspired a sense of awe in me through the beauty of its in-game music. The most memorable part is when “The Best is yet to come” (written and produced by Rika Muranaka) kicks in while Naomi Hunter (Carren Learning) starts telling the heart-breaking story of how her brother, Frank Jaeger/Gray Fox (George Byrd) was experimented on. This sort of passion and beauty is what makes Metal Gear Solid a true classic.
5: Super Mario Bros. (NES)
I doubt there is a gamer alive who hasn’t hummed or sang the main tune from Super Mario Bros. at least once in their life. There is nothing particularly spectacular about the song and it wasn’t especially ground breaking for its time either. What gives it a spot on the list is its value to the gaming community. Super Mario is the game that most of us