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It’s been a while since we discussed music on GamesBeat. So long, in fact, that a season’s worth of amazing music has nearly passed us by. That’s why in this edition of Required Listening, I’ll take you through some of the best scores you might have missed, starting with the medieval-meets-cyberpunk world of Shin Megami Tensei IV, moving on to the dystopian future in Remember Me, cheesy ’80s synth tones of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, and finishing up with the overwhelmingly atmospheric scores for Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine and Company of Heroes 2.
I also talk to Company of Heroes 2 composer Cris Velasco about why he chose to work in games and his classical inspirations.
Shin Megami Tensei IV
Composers: Ryota Koduka, Kenichi Tsuchiya, and Toshiki Konishi
Shin Megami Tensei IV’s score is an unusual mix of plodding, medieval marches and mid-’90s cyberpunk nostalgia. Crafting a soundtrack for a game as varied as SMT IV requires music that can amplify your surroundings while hinting at what’s around the corner. What’s amazing is how well the music matches the ever-unfolding events and evolves as the player digs deeper into the mystery surrounding demons and the ruins of Tokyo. The main battle theme haunted my dreams for days after I started playing SMT IV.
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Composer: Olivier Deriviere
Olivier Deriviere’s classical music background brings a lot to the futuristic Parisian setting in Remember Me. The music is a pulse-quickening mixture of sweeping, James Bond-esque orchestral arrangements and electronic percussion. Some tracks are purely instrumental while others dip into what I can only describe as classy dubstep. Those rather divergent elements work together and give us the impression that Remember Me’s world is not that removed from our future — if we ever get into the business of remembering things for people wholesale.
Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine
Composer: Austin Wintory
Spangly piano pieces are often an acquired taste, but they fit so well for the nefarious goings on in Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine. Tinkling, smokey melodies give you the image of world-class thieves slinking around Monaco hotels and casinos. Wintory has a mastery of setting tone in surprising ways, and his score adds mystery and depth in ways Monaco can’t do on its own. Plus, I challenge you to not want to creep around like a Hanna-Barbera cartoon villain when “What’s Yours Is Mine” starts to play.
Company of Heroes 2
Composer: Cris Velasco
Thinking about the Russian military conjures images of stark resilience against invasions, bitter cold, and overwhelming odds. Cris Velasco captures the bleakness of Germany’s invasion of Russia through mournful all-male choirs and chilly violins. The music makes you feel cold, and the ambient whistling wind found in some tracks of the score heightens that sensation. Throw in a twinge of military percussion and you can imagine what it was like to serve on the Russian frontlines during World War II.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Smooth saxophones blending into gritty synthesized beats is an unmistakably ’80s sound, but it works in Blood Dragon’s nostalgia-fueled setting. The entire expansion for Far Cry 3 plays out like a cheesy ’80s sci-fi movie, complete with neon-trimmed enemies and comically “futuristic” tech. Powerglove, an American instrumental power metal band, captures the most defining elements of soulless artificial movie scores and blends it into something bizarrely addictive to listen to. Typically, I wouldn’t sit down and listen to a made-for-TV action movie’s soundtrack, but music made with the express purpose of making you think about pointless smoke effects and hand-drawn lasers is bewitching.
Continue to page two for an interview with Company of Heroes 2 composer Cris Velasco