Video games don’t typically feature pop songs and rock tracks as much as mainstream movies – but when they do the results are often explosive.
Offering up some of the finest marriages of music and imagery ever seen in the medium, Luke Wilson picks out 8 great songs that made memorable video game scenes even better.
‘Far Away’ in Red Dead Redemption
Rockstar’s masterful use of Jose Gonzalez’s acoustic genius on entry to Mexico created not only one of the greatest musical moments in gaming, but a moment that shines through as one of the most memorable in video games entirely. From the opening bars, a long horseback journey to the mainland is transformed into an opportunity for Red Dead Redemption to show off just how stunning it really is. Speaking from painful experience, don’t get off your horse – or you’ll end up doing the whole thing in silence.
‘Sympathy for the Devil’ in Call of Duty: Black Ops
The Rolling Stones might be the go-to option for Vietnam era soundtracks, but when ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ rolls in to accompany one of Call of Duty’s signature blockbuster shootouts, nobody can doubt its effect on the game. Blurring the lines between gameplay and cinematic elements is a divisive topic in the gaming world, but this moment shows exactly how to create an outstanding balance of both.
‘Paper Planes’ in Far Cry 3
M.I.A.’s 2007 hit almost seems to be made for use as montage music, so implementing it as a backing track to a holiday video in Far Cry 3’s intro was the ideal choice. Carefree backpackers suddenly meeting their worst nightmare is a plot we’ve witnessed in too many terrible horror films to mention, but ‘Paper Planes’ outweighs this by providing the perfect transition from euphoric calm to terrified captivity.
‘God Only Knows’ in Bioshock: Infinite
Columbia’s “gayest quartet” performing ‘God Only Knows’ at the beginning of Bioshock: Infinite clouds the dark secrets of Columbia behind an innocent and cheerful soundtrack, certain to unsettle anyone who has played a Bioshock game before. Toss in the fact that Infinite is set over forty years before the release of the Beach Boys’ classic, and we begin to find much more sinister meanings behind its intelligent usage.
‘Children of the Elder God’ in Alan Wake
Fighting off the Taken in the surroundings of a concert stage makes for one of Alan Wake’s most ridiculous yet enjoyable moments. As pyrotechnics explode and ‘Children of the Elder God’ by fictional band Old Gods of Asgard erupts out of the speakers, the game briefly sacrifices its focus on horror for some dumb old-fashioned fun with rock n’ roll and guns.
‘Rock and Roll All Nite’ in Tony Hawk’s Underground
Again making use of a stage set for a really unique level, Tony Hawk’s Underground gives players the freedom of a Kiss concert to test their skating ability. Those who manage to collect enough letters to spell Kiss are rewarded with a terribly animated but nevertheless amusing performance from the band themselves.
‘I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire’ in Fallout 3
As the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout 3 is slowly revealed through its unnerving introduction, The Ink Spots’ ‘I Don’t Want to Set the World On Fire’ works impeccably alongside visual displays of burnt out vehicles, providing a sense of nostalgia for the days when the deserted remains of this city street were filled with life. It’s a seemingly harmless romantic ballad – but in this context alludes brilliantly to the destructive nature of mankind.
‘Chemical Beats’ in WipEout
Video games are…cool? They certainly were after the release of WipEout, which featured music very well suited to the high-adrenaline racer in the form of ‘Chemical Beats’ by The Dust Brothers, who we all now know as The Chemical Brothers. WipEout was the one of the most important releases in gaining games mainstream attention in the nineties, and its soundtrack undoubtedly had a lot to do with that.