8 games headphones were made for

You’ll want headphones for: Far Cry 2

Reason: You want to get as close to deepest Africa without being kidnapped

Similar to how Roald Dahl’s BFG can hear the infinitesimal sounds of life, headphones excel at picking up ambient sound you wouldn’t otherwise notice. Loud, angry shouts of mercenaries and the thunderous crack of the rifle tend to dominate the audio in Far Cry 2’s African wilds until you plug in a pair of ‘phones, which reveal a whole new level of subtle sounds.

Above: A lot to hear, much of which is lost to the ether when pumping out of your speakers

Suddenly the savannah is alive with buzzing insects and distant birdcall, the soft breeze passing through dead grass and the gentle ripple of a nearby stream as the current flows over smooth rock. And the low rumble of a rusty jeep engine as it grows louder and louder and oh my God it’s chasing me and there’s angry men shouting again quick RUN RUN ARGHHHH!

You’ll want headphones for: The World Ends With You

Reason: You are a hipster with a fine taste in music

It’s hard to appreciate great game music in public. Even if you manage to hear the tunes whispering from your tiny DS speakers over noisy commuters or annoying siblings sat next to you on the back seat, you tend to get a few weird looks when you start to bop your head and tap your foot. The weird looks this’ll get you whilst playing Tokyo hipster simulator The World Ends With You are almost worth the embarrassment.

Above: “It’s So Wonderful,” the game’s intro theme. Damn amazing work on the DS

However, for those looking to avoid public shame whilst listening to genuinely excellent music, then headphones are the way to go. Impressively for DS much of the TWEWY soundtrack features full lyrics, and from the orchestral “Amnesia,” to the full rap “Three Minutes Clapping,” these are songs we’d happily put on our iTunes, playlist name: How Did Square Enix Achieve This Witchcraft?

You’ll want headphones for: GTA IV

Reason: You want to get as close to New York without getting shot

If buzzing insects and enchanting birdcall characterize Far Cry 2’s setting, buzzing crowds and disgruntled Liberty City citizens flipping the bird define GTA IV. Now, unless you sit with your ear pressed to the speaker, your setup has to compete with real-world distractions – like inconsiderate family and friends daring to interrupt your “me time.” Brilliantly, headphones let you cut off the outside world completely (though you may piss off your pals in the process).

Above: All this from ONE TYPE of NPC

With reality safely rendered mute, you’re free to enjoy Rockstar’s ridiculously detailed audio. Now it’s not just loud gunfire, car crashes and “CUZZANN” Roman’s irritating phone calls that wrestle for your attention, but far-away citizens excitedly discussing plastic surgery, the moronic radio show leaking from the windows of the car in front and the feint roar of a plane as it passes overhead. It’s great, even if you can now hear in greater vividness the terrible curses of a foreign taxi driver whose bumper you’ve just knocked off…

You’ll want headphones for: Rock Band 3

Reason: No-one else wants to hear that shit

Look, we understand Rock Band 3 is best played in a band, one which preferably rocks (hence the name), but with Harmonix’s 3rd iteration of its Metacritic-conquering series and the new ‘pro mode’ which asks you to essentially play the songs as they are in real life, you’re going to need a lot of practice. That’s where headphones come in.

Above: Although there’s still the CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK

Before you set up the smoke machine and invite your lady friends round, you must insure you won’t balls up the song. This requires hours alone in your room with nothing but your plastic instrument and your shame. Fine for you, maybe, but not for the other people in your house who have to hear the double-awfulness of clacking plastic AND the same song 100 times a day. Living with a practicing musician is trying enough, but a practicing musician using Rock Band 3 as a teacher? That’s probably stretching it. Prevent domestic violence: wear headphones. And maybe get your own place.

Got other games in mind you think would benefit from headphones? Let us hear it in the comments!

Apr 6, 2011

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  • VermithraxDagon - April 14, 2011 12:39 a.m.

    I'll definitely go with Silent Hill 2, Doom 3 and add Condemned: Criminal Origins to the list.
  • MediocreDinosaur - April 11, 2011 7:29 p.m.

    Time I won't ever give in No matter how hard you pull me in I know gravity ain't an excuse I just wanna make things a little more smooth. Majority is still asleep Tired of these dreadful dreams Now let me shout I'll wake you up Let me wake you up. Yeah. TWEWY. <33 You are almost forgiven for forgetting to put it in the Top 100 Games list.
  • TheLastRGP - April 10, 2011 4:40 a.m.

    I bought a pair of Turtle Beach PX5 to play at night, and man, they do make a difference when playing COD or BFBC. I even played them with Dead Space, and it scared me senseless.
  • lozarian - April 8, 2011 10:26 a.m.

    I'm surprised elite beat agents isn't on this list - it's impossible to play without the music, but is also perfectly sized for tube/bus journeys, and nobody wants to hear you fail the jamiroquai bit for the nineteeth time on their way to work.
  • Spybreak8 - April 8, 2011 6:04 a.m.

    To tell you the truth I like to use headphones most of the time but I game at night. I have a sweet pair of Sonys but they just broke! :( I believe Mass Effect 1&2, Bioshock 1&2, Gears of War 1&2, Halo Reach, DiRT 2, RDR, The Orange Box, Doom 3, Deadspace 1&2, and Dragon Age 2 are great games to play while wearing headphones mostly for good music but also great sound design.
  • Bianchi - April 8, 2011 1:57 a.m.

    Re4 is also cool with headphones, like when the regenerator and iron maidens come close, it scares the shit out of you xDDDD and you can hear spanish people swearing at you xDDD
  • Seabread - April 7, 2011 11:54 p.m.

    What? no manhunt? you can only hear starkweather thru the headset on 360. totally immersive.
  • Overlord153 - April 7, 2011 8:02 p.m.

    No wonder Neku always wears headphones in WETY. He must be always listening to the soundtrack.
  • AltairFoggz - April 7, 2011 7:13 p.m.

    You want to play Dead Space with headphones!
  • BurntToShreds - April 7, 2011 4:44 p.m.

    The TWEWY soundtrack IS on iTunes, just FYI. Sometimes, I wish they made it to where the same two J-Pop songs didn't play all the time. I want to hear some Transformation and Junk Garage, dammit.
  • BaraChat - April 7, 2011 12:25 p.m.

    I've never played a game with headphones, even if I play some competitive online FPSs. But since I auto-mute everyone as soon as I enter a lobby, I don't think it'd be of much use, except for not waking up my wife when I play late at night. In fact I always thought that the TV audio produces better atmosphere (because it's in the whole room) than simple headphones. So I've never been interested in headphones.
  • philipshaw - April 7, 2011 11:08 a.m.

    Great list and I do play most portable games with headphones
  • Benjamin333 - April 7, 2011 10:33 a.m.

    Can't believe I left off Amnesia and its actual 'wear headphones' advice! Thanks for the comments, people. Glad you're all enjoying the feature. You guys have a point about certain games I left off (most DS/PSP games have surprisingly good audio when heard through headphones). To me, ALL horror games are far too effective at scaring you silly with headphones. This feature would've just turned into me listing them and describing my various levels of intimidation.
  • sirdilznik - April 7, 2011 10:14 a.m.

    I completely agree with festafreak. Amnesia: The Dark Descent has some of the best (and creepiest) atmospheric sounds out there and as stated they even tell you to play using headphones (and with the lights off) in the instructions.
  • Deckard5627 - April 7, 2011 8:23 a.m.

    nar man, headphones for silent hill 2, you think bioshock is creepey. Trust me, try this.
  • CitizenWolfie - April 7, 2011 8:15 a.m.

    Manhunt - if you played it with earphones, the Director would be talking in your ear as if you were the main character. As well as the ambient sounds of general lunacy and depravity it made for a creepy experience
  • jmcgrotty - April 7, 2011 7:41 a.m.

    Jesus Christ, guys! He was kidding when he said "The World Ends With You" in the list. No one really plays that crap. I only hope that those who agreed were "playing along" in the joke. And headphones in a FPS are useless and ridiculous. Why the hell would you play any game where you have to listen to other *I deleted a very long string of insults against anyone who plays FPS games online*... Quit being idiots, little kids.
  • ThatFanInThePeacoat - April 7, 2011 7:34 a.m.

    festafreak totally beat me to it - Amnesia: The Dark Descent!
  • NanoElite666 - April 7, 2011 6:51 a.m.

    Headphones are a must for the likes of the Golden Sun games and Advance Wars Days of Ruin, as those games feature fantastic soundtracks that cannot be properly appreciated via just your GBA's or DS's speakers.
  • The4X - April 7, 2011 5:23 a.m.

    Get your dirty ears of Masha!111