The Essential Games Music Collection: Volume 1
Composed by: Various Artists
Performed by: London Music Works
Distributed by: Silva Screen Records
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Video game music has come a long way over the years, moving from the boring and annoying computer noise to full symphony orchestra compositions. In December 2011, as tribute to the evolving video game music phenomenon, Silva Screen Music released The Essential Games Music Collection: Volume 1, an album featuring a collection of video game music.
The Essential Games Music Collection: Volume 1 contains music composed by Brian Tyler, Steve Jablonsky, Greg Edmonson, Martin O' Donnell and Michael Salvatori and more performed by London Music Works. The album runs the gamut of popular video games, featuring music from Halo 3, Gears of War 3, Uncharted 2, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy VII, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, World of Warcraft and more.
The album begins with MW3 Theme, the intense music theme of Modern Warfare 3, followed by the equally intense and adrenaline pumping Gears Keep Turning from Gears of War 3. Nate's Theme from Uncharted 2 gives the listener a sense of venturing into the vast unknown, while Ezio's Family from Assassin's Creed 2 is a rather somber theme punctuated by electric guitars and female vocals. The intense orchestral movements combined with choir give a sense of action and greatness to Arthas My Son from World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.
Finish the Fight from Halo 3 begins quietly, but becomes more involved and uplifting as the composition moves forward. One wonders why One-Winged Angel would be included in this album as it was meant for the Final Fantasy movie rather than the video game. Theme from Battlefield 1942 perfectly encompasses the sense of military purpose you are supposed to feel while playing the game. The Theme from The Curse of Monkey Island is a fun, exotic track and is followed by the militaristic and heroic sound of Staff Roll from Final Fantasy VII.
We now come to the retro part of the collection, beginning with the techno track, Intro from Turrican II: The Final Flight. This track is not as retro as it can get, but its synthetic sound does much to remind us of a time when video game music was just beginning to evolve into something more than a background sound. We finish things off with the Theme from The Legend of Zelda and the Ground Theme from Super Mario Bros. I found that I couldn't help but smile at that last track as it brought back memories of the countless hours spent playing that game back in the day.
While a fun venture into the video game music world, I wasn't really certain just what Silva Screen Music was trying to accomplish with this compilation. First, I think it might have been better to put the retro scores in first, so that the listener can truly see how much video game music has evolved. Second, the inclusion of One-Winged Angel really didn't fit into the equation, being from a movie soundtrack rather than a gaming one. Third, I don't find this album to be an adequate representation of some of the most popular video game music out there. What happened to themes from video games like Tomb Raider, Fable, Mass Effect, Metroid, Street Fighter, Metal Gear, Tekken or any of the Star Wars games out there? The Essential Games Music Collection: Volume 1 was an interesting collection, but Silva Screen will have to do a lot better with Volume 2 if they really want to peak gamers' interests.