Let the music play and send those blues away ‘cause it’s time for Round 2!
Cheesy opening aside, I am so incredibly excited to be putting another one of these lists together. Less than a year ago, I had decided to share my musical interests with others by talking about the top ten songs from games that I absolutely loved. After finally finishing the list and seeing it work out the way it did, I thought it was high time that I compiled a second list of ten songs that I just can’t stop listening too. So, without further waiting, here are another top ten songs that I love in games.
“Winter in Chicago” by Flatfoot 56 - Watch Dogs
I think we can all agree that Watch Dogs was a wee bit of a disappointment. Regardless of Ubisoft’s practices in not releasing the same quality of graphical capability then what is presented in their E3 trailers, Watch Dogs as a game just wasn’t all that interesting. It just felt bland and mediocre, which doesn’t really help with the whole ‘hacker for hire’ idea.
One thing I will credit it with, however, are the songs that play over the radio. My personal favourite being the Flatfoot 56 rock ballad of “Winter in Chicago”. For some reason or another, I’ll honestly start having more fun with Watch Dogs when this song started up. There’s something about the hard rock, Irish feel to it that brings out the best in what the game has to offer. Weird, I know.
10. “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones - Call of Duty: Black Ops.
Call of Duty is a franchise that’s widely known for putting out the same game year after year. That being said, they're not exactly the same, but they’re similar enough to a point where one could play the previous installment and get the same results as if playing the newest one. It’s almost as if the logo above the developer's office is something along the lines of “second verse, same as the first.”
Now, just because they’re similar doesn’t mean they aren’t fun. For example, I had a blast playing CoD: Black Ops. It was an entry into the series that really surprised me as the story was quite solid and the gameplay was interesting despite being the same old song and dance. One thing that really drew me in though was the soundtrack, which was very much set in the 60’s. I had actually debated putting “Fortunate Son” by CCR on the list because I absolutely love that song. However, it was wasn’t used properly in-game (having not existed at the time of the story) so I decided to go with “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Rolling Stones, which was used to great effect. Who knows though, maybe Fortunate Son will make an appearance later on…
9. “Charlie Mopps Beer Song” a Folk Song - The Bard’s Tale.
There are different levels of interesting when it comes to starting off a game. In some titles they’ll put you through a ‘test of strength’ like in The Witcher 2, in others they’ll simply lead you by the nose to where the actual gameplay begins like in Call of Duty. However, I still firmly believe that The Bard’s Tale has one of the most interesting, if not hilarious, openings of all time.
Not only are you a down on your luck bard who’s thinks they’re suaver then the word suave itself, but everybody throughout the game thinks you’re taking the piss and it’s amazing! Nobody takes the main character seriously in this game, least of all the four drunken patrons from the starting bar. If you interact with them, they don’t give you a quest or a map or any of that nonsense. Instead, they start singing the Irish folk song “Beer, Beer, Beer” and keep drinking regardless of your status as “hero”. Long story short, this is how you start off an epic adventure game right, take notes Link.
8. “Sh-Boom” by The Crew Cuts - Destroy All Humans!
Every now and again, I’ll find myself in the mood for some classic 50’s music. Whether it be Dean Martin or Frank Sinatra, I quite enjoy those old swinging sounds from back in the day. It seems that Pandemic also shared this mindset when they released their hit title Destroy All Humans!
A game that, much like 50’s music, I still go back to every now and again. Destroy All Humans! has an amazing blend of comedy and drama that you just don’t see in titles anymore. Most games will try to have it one way or another, but Pandemic wasn’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and create a product that had a little something for everyone. That little something for me was a remix of The Crew Cuts song “Sh-Boom” which can be heard during the end credits right after you finish the game. The song, although a bit silly, was a nice cherry on top of an already wonderful story.
7. “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” by Cage the Elephant - Borderlands.
One really has to appreciate what Gearbox tried to do with the Borderlands franchise. They went for the silly, action, loot box shooter vibe and that formula did genuinely work with the first game. Then the second game came out, and it was still fine if not a bit repetitive here and there. Finally, the Pre-Sequel was released and at that point the series had become a hollow shell of its former self.
Going back to the first game though, me and a friend of mine had a blast playing through it. There were so many moments throughout where we just had to stop and laugh at the silliness of it all. And you know what kicked those moments off in the right way? “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” by Cage the Elephant. I don’t think there was a better song that the developers could have chosen to set the scene for what was to be Borderlands.
6. “Switchback” by Celldweller - Dead Rising 2.
Zombies are one of those staples of pop culture that just don’t seem to get stale. Well, let me back up by saying that they do get stale, it’s just that they’re not going anywhere so we’ve kind of learned to, more or less, live and let live with the idea of them. One of the major companies that really capitalized on the notion of the undead was Capcom, makers of Resident Evil and Dead Rising.
Dead Rising 2, arguably the strongest entry in the series, was one of the best examples of how fair ingenuity could take you in the zombie apocalypse It’s also a great example in how to use music during said apocalypse. The tune of “Switchback” by Celldweller can be heard during a boss fight between Reed and Roger, two terrible practicing magicians. Although the song isn’t anything more than just theme music, it’s still a pretty badass song for simply being theme music.
5. “Black Betty/Only I Have Eyes For You” by Ram Jam/The Flamingos - The Darkness 2
The Darkness 2 is one of those titles that sent me on a rollercoaster of emotion. On the one hand, you play as a man who is infused with the power of dark beings which allow you destroy everything in your path. On the other hand, you play as a man who is severely depressed after his one and only love was murdered right before his eyes. The conflict that the main character feels is one that threatens to tear him into two and you, the player, are forced to watch that conflict every step of the way.
This is what makes the combination of both “Black Betty” by Ram Jam and “Only I Have Eyes For You” by The Flamingos so unique to the game. During a point some mid-way through the story, Jackie (the protagonist) finds himself having a vision. The vision itself is set in a diner that starts off with the rhythm from “Black Betty”, the rock song being a metaphor in regards to power that Jackie has. Then, the vision closes with “Only I Have Eyes For You”, which emphasises Jackie’s depression for his lost love. The two songs tag team together so well that it’s almost disheartening to watch the scene, but you do anyway because it’s such a defining moment within the plot.
4. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash - Far Cry 4.
The formula for Far Cry games has gotten a bit predictable for the last few installments. Not that this is a bad thing, but it seems that Ubisoft has settled into a niche that they like and don’t seem intent on moving. Fill out your Far Cry bingo card at home if the recent games have, B) an interesting and colorful antagonist, I) a bland protagonist, N) a sandbox that’s filled with things to do, G) a map that’s filled with unnecessary icons because of the sandbox, and O) a lazily written but well-executed story. I think we might have a bingo.
Those half-criticisms aside, Far Cry 4 does have a lot of charm to it. In fact, one of its best moments come from the player not doing anything. Spoilers ahead for those who don’t know, but when Pagan Min asks you to sit tight at the table until he returns and you do, he actually comes back and offers to take you to scatter your mother’s ashes. After doing so, Pagan Min is pleased that you’re feeling better and thusly states; “maybe now we can finally shoot some goddamn guns”. This, followed by the opening riff of “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by The Clash, is a perfect example of the charm and personality Far Cry games can bring. So, come on and let me know, should you stay or should you go?
3. “This is War/100 Suns” by 30 Seconds to Mars - Dragon Age: Origins
So there you are, at the end of a BioWare RPG. All of your decisions have been made and all of your battles won. The final scene ends and the screen fades to black as you sit there and look back on the last several hours. Then, as you watch the credits, you notice that it’s not orchestral music playing anymore but rock. It turns out that Dragon Age’s best and most emotional moment was in the fading minutes of the credits.
“This is War” and “100 Suns” perfectly encapsulates the past day and a half you spent saving the lives of everyone in Dragon Age. The powerful anthem sound followed by the slow acoustic number just made me want to cry and hug those closest to me… ahem...
2. “Late Goodbye” by Poets of the Fall - Max Payne 2: The Fall of Max Payne.
Back again for the second time around, Poets of the Fall have now appeared on both of my lists. The first mention was for their amazing emotional piece “War” which was featured in the action-thriller Alan Wake. This time around, though, it’s for their equally as amazing piece “Late Goodbye” from Max Payne 2.
I honestly feel that Poets of the Fall can do no wrong, there doesn’t seem to be a single song by them that I don’t enjoy. “Late Goodbye” is just another example of what happens when you give the right artists an opportunity to make your game that much better. There are a couple of times in-game where this song is either played or referenced at one point or another, but the notable spot that it plays (at least for me) is during the end credits when you reflect back at what has taken place. It’s heart-wrenching, it’s powerful, it’s a Poets of the Fall song.
1. “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bioshock: Infinite.
Now this is how you use a song properly. I love CCR, I love Bioshock, I love when Bioshock uses a song from CCR. There is so much that this game did right and the soundtrack is just one notch on a very, very long list. The funny thing is, I was actually a bigger fan of when they had a certain section dedicated to an individual singing the song, rather than the band who originally performed it.
All I’ll say is, damn that’s some powerful stuff. A great song, in a great game, sung by an unbelievable talent. Wow... just wow.
So there you have it, I hope you enjoyed hearing about some of my favourite musical moments in gaming… again. Until the next list I suppose.