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

Game music of the day compendinarium
Your one-stop-shop for each and every GMOTD article


Useless Wii peripherals that will never improve your life
Though they’re not that much stupider than the room-migration kit


The coolest secret videogame music
Audio wonders most people never hear


  • festafreak - April 6, 2011 8:16 p.m.

    Amnesia: The dark Descent! The game even says to put on headphones before you play.
  • PlainLikeVanilla - April 6, 2011 8:23 p.m.

    Glad to see some love for The World Ends With You.
  • Corsair89 - April 6, 2011 8:27 p.m.

    The Ar tonelico series needs headphones. Not only is the sound track absolutely stunning, but there is so much sexual innuendo in the dialogue and sexual moaning in the middle of battle, that people who hear it will think you're watching p0rn.
  • FrozenImplosion - April 6, 2011 8:37 p.m.

  • fatdog12300 - April 6, 2011 8:39 p.m.

    What about elite beat agents?
  • NatDaGamer - April 6, 2011 8:43 p.m.

    @festafreak i agree with Amnesia: The Dark Descent, that game is s*** scary with a pair of sennheisers, but as for TWEWY, the music on that game is actually amazing!! mind you, i can sorta relate to the whole hipster/outcasts from most other people thing. there's only a small group of us at my school, like 10 or so :(
  • Lemurian - April 6, 2011 9:20 p.m.

    no mass effect 2 seriously play that with headphones on its a completely different experience you can feel the whole emptiness of space vibe and the loading screens are actually enjoyable
  • TheWhiteLight - April 6, 2011 9:27 p.m.

    Rez is another good one.
  • ithurtstopoop - April 6, 2011 9:30 p.m.

    fine list except for rock band 3, everyone wants to hear me sing Amy winehouse and i mean EVERYONE!!!
  • NG14916 - April 6, 2011 9:53 p.m.

    TWEWY really does have one of the best game soundtracks ever. It really adds to the mood. More soundtracks should have voiced tracks. My favorite song on the soundtrack is probably Emptiness.
  • majrf22 - April 6, 2011 10:12 p.m.

    quite true, the first time i played farcry 2 with headphones i was looking around wondering where the bugs were.
  • Mamudo - April 6, 2011 10:15 p.m.

    TWEWY is my favorite DS game also one on my favorite soundtracks and I played that shizz with headphones on all the time.
  • Robx - April 6, 2011 10:38 p.m.

  • kjdubz22 - April 6, 2011 10:45 p.m.'s like you're there one on one with GlaDOS and you get to hear everything he/she/it says to you.
  • terdferguson - April 6, 2011 10:59 p.m.

    One first person shooter series that stands out with sound is the Battlefield series. First time I played with the "War Tapes" setting on was amazing.
  • HankVenture - April 6, 2011 11:18 p.m.

    If I didn't have a hospital bill to pay, I would sooo go get some. Great article!
  • obviouslyadouche - April 6, 2011 11:36 p.m.

    World ends with you, Best ds game
  • ViolentStCannon - April 6, 2011 11:54 p.m.

    lol @ the RB vid
  • DamnHippy - April 6, 2011 11:54 p.m.

    My mother heard the maria sharapova grunts, nuff said
  • twewy13 - April 7, 2011 12:29 a.m.

    i always play TWEWY with headphones...i'm still not tired of those songs

Showing 1-20 of 49 comments

Join the Discussion
Add a comment (HTML tags are not allowed.)
Characters remaining: 5000