With September coming to a close, it’s time I hurry up and pick the game soundtrack to review for the month. And chances are you’ve had this soundtrack drilled into your head after hour upon hour of gameplay. I only have a level 45 mage so I’m sure that most of you have much more experience in the game than I have, but even getting to level 45 has allowed me to memorize at least some of the pieces from the game. And, happily, they’re not half bad.
If I could pick one word to describe the WoW soundtrack, it would be “suitable”. There’s nothing groundbreaking by any means, but instead an appropriately crafted lot of music. The two biggest gripes I have with the soundtrack are:
1- The music comes from the Lord of the Rings school of music, meaning overall it’s pretty clumsy and obvious. There is nothing subtle or deep about the music. It just hits you over the head with its mood. But, while LoTR has a memorable melody or two , WoW does not, instead employing too often at least a portion of a minor scale as its melody. All of this may actually be just fine though, considering the player is going to hear each piece so many times. So that’s not really too big a problem. The music is “suitable” for its purposes. That said, whenever you enter Stormwind and hear that music, you can’t help but feel a little noble or courageous.
2- It too often sounds too much like samples. If I recall correctly, they hired a live choir for some of the pieces but at times the orchestra sounds tinny and thin, as samples often do. I’m sure if they had known when they were developing the game the insane amount of success they would have with the game, they would have gone live with everything. Indeed, the expansion Burning Crusade used the Northwest Sinfonia Orchestra. But WoW definitely suffers from some sample-itis.
Those two issues aside, the composers of the WoW soundtrack did a good job supporting the gorgeous world with proper music. They could have pushed the envelope a little more and increased the production values by hiring a live orchestra, but overall they helped further immerse the player in the game world. And that’s what game music is all about, right?
Verdict: Not Too Shabby
Wow, is it really July already? That means it’s time for a new soundtrack review! I picked one that I’ve been listening to a LOT lately, since I’ve been playing the game so much: Grand Theft Auto 4.
This soundtrack is impressive. The sheer amount of music just boggles the mind. I keep switching radio stations… click, click, click, but it takes forever to come around to the first radio station again. I’ve played the game a fair amount and I have yet to get tired of the soundtrack. From minimalist to rap, it’s all in there, even some good classic rock (always my favorite for GTA). The DJs and ads are as funny and well-produced as ever. Good stuff.
The voice acting for the game is above average, though not great. Many of the accents just aren’t believable unfortunately. The sound effects are appropriate and plentiful. Overall, the sound just helps the city become more alive. Some of the car sounds don’t come off very well, but apart from that the sound design is very good.
One knock against the soundtrack is the inability to play MP3′s that are stored on your machine (on the 360 at least). As fun and interesting as the radio stations are, I miss the custom MP3 station from the previous games. Sometimes I just want to hear my own stuff.
Verdict: Required Listening