We've played a lot of games this year, and some of them have really cracking music. Not just 'oh hey this is a nice tune tum tee tum tee tum' sort of thing, but music that grabs you by the nutsack and forcibly drags you backwards through a hedge made of awesome until you emerge, bedraggled and smiling. Here are our top five nominations for the Holy Shit This Game Has Fantasic Music category:
Saints Row the Third
SR3 had a CGI trailer, back in the day, which made great use of Kanye West's Power – it's a fantastic song in its own right, but when you combine it with slow-motion ultraviolence, that's multipled exponentially. We loved it, and in the continuing tradition of SR3 reaching into our minds with invasive brainrays and sucking out precisely what we want in a game, they put the song on the soundtrack too.
Except it doesn't just play in your car as you're driving along – instead, it kicks in (and kicks is the operative and entirely correct word) in an early mission as you leap out of a helicopter and shoot apart a lavish penthouse apartment after landing in the swimming pool. It's so well-judged that after we finished the game we IMMEDIATELY restarted so we could play that mission again. Cracking.
Some games have an amazing soundtrack. Some, like Tetris, have a single remarkable tune. But this is 2011, man. We don't have TIME to listen to a soundtrack, in between tweeting about our Facebook statuses and asking Siri where the best place to buy a 3D printer is. What we've got time for is for an entire soundtrack's worth of badass condensed into one 5-second NOISE.
Click the video above. Doesn't that make your heart pump a little faster? Doesn't it spur you to action? Doesn't it indicate, somehow, that shit has suddenly become real? We recommend playing it on your phone whenever you get up from your chair to make yourself feel important and dangerous.
Driver: San Francisco
If you're a comatose cop thrown into an astrally-projected world of crime-fighting a la Quantum Leap crossed with Life on Mars, then you might as well imagine a great soundtrack to go along with your out-of-body ass kicking.
Enter the Black Keys, who've also been splattered all over the otherwise dire Need for Speed: The Run. Their song Your Touch is apparently MADE for sliding sideways round a corner in an overpowered, brightly-coloured American muscle car and – whaddaya know – Driver: SF will let you do just that. In fact, as a whole, the soundtrack is probably the best we've heard this year.
We've written a whole article about how great the music is in Rayman, so it doesn't really bear repeating although we're still waking up to find THAT SONG rattling around our brainpan despite the fact that it's been two weeks since we even touched the game, and that's not strictly a bad thing, is it, maybe it should have stopped by now? Help us.
You're wondering through the wilderness, minding your own business and setting rabbits on fire, when your controller shakes. The screen shudders. A giant scaly bastard of a dragon swoops overhead and lands right in front of you, ready to either shout or tear your face off, and the Oh God Guys It's Time To Fight A Fucking DRAGON music kicks in.
If it weren't for that music, the dragon fights would either be too hard or too easy, depending on how you've built up your character. But with it? Man, fuck dragons. Fuck all dragons. This is going to be an epic battle whatever happens. That music propels you forward, axes swinging, to hack that overgrown lizard into bite-sized pieces and snort its soul like ancient draconic nosepowder.
By the way, hilariously, this isn't the music that plays because Bethesda have decided to take down all copies of it from the internet. But it's a close reproduction lifted from the title menu which will HAVE TO DO.