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The 12 essential video game soundtracks now available on iTunes that you cannot afford to be without

Tracking down game soundtracks used to be a bit like being an aristocratic big game hunter in the late 19th century. It required a whole lot of groundwork, weeks of research, a raft of foreign help and a stack of money. Now though, digital distribution means that you can poke your eager little finger at a screen and get anything you want in seconds. iTunes in particular is a brilliant tool for acquiring hundreds of brilliant game noises old and new, with the most contemptible of ease. But just in case you don't want hundreds, I'm going to point you in the direction of the twelve most essential ones you can get right now.

But remember, I myself was once that handlebar moustached hunter of bespoke electronic tunery. So just imagine that I'm giving you all of this information with a curmudgeonly "You don't know you're born" look on my face. Oh, and don't forget to argue over my choices in the comments. That's always the most important part, after all.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Composer: Michael McCann Buy it here

Alternately frenzied, soaring and soothing, the original score to Deus Ex: Human Revolution is perhaps the best new game soundtrack of the last couple of years. With insistent electronic percussion blending with cool ambient synth and subtly-powerful abstracted human vocals, it's an accessibly complex soundtrack with sound and a mood both unmistakable and untouchable.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Composer: Anamanaguchi Buy it here

The retro-gamey soundtrack to the game based on the film based on the retro-gamey comic book. Arriving as the result of so many resonant stacked levels of brilliant, the Scott Pilgrim OST is an absolute stunner. Basically, it's the most potent and fast acting cheer-up music money can buy.

Silent Hill 2

Composer: Akira Yamaoaka (soundtrack credited to Konami Kukeiha Club) Buy it here

This one shouldn't need any introduction, but in case it does, know this. Akira Yamoaka's soundtrack to Silent Hill 2 is one of the most revered in gaming for a reason. It's one of the most touching, chilling, and deeply beautiful soundtracks ever to grace any piece of media. Combining soaring rock, ethereal synth and abstract soundscapes, it's powerfully affecting on a level you just will not be able to imagine if you haven't already heard it. So hear it. By buying it.

Heavy Rain

Composer: Normand Coubeil Buy it here

Repetitive and one-note as it may be in the game, Heavy Rain's melacholic, ominously fatalistic score works a lot better in separation. Free from over-use, the various character-specific themes shine as pieces in their own right. The overall tone might rarely stray from 'sad and a bit doomy' across the selection of tracks, but it's a strong and unique set of tunes with a personality all of its own.

Batman: Arkham City

Composer: Nick Arundel and Ron Fish Buy it here

Forget that dodgy "Music inspired by..." album that's knocking around, attempting to purvey its array of unrelated licensed tunes off the back of the game's high profile. This is the real thing. The orchestral score. The pounding, sweeping, at times damnably emotional stuff that actually appears in the game. It's bloody brilliant, and up there with the very best Batman scores ever to grace the cinematic adaptations. In fact it's a good blend of the best bits of all of them. 

Bionic Commando Rearmed

Composer: Simon Viklund Buy it here


Halfway between the exhilarating abrasiveness of 8 and 16-bit chiptunes and the layered finesse of modern electronica, the soundtrack to Capcom's pitch-perfect NES remake is as fun and imaginative as it is pulse-poundingly exciting. One of the most vital game soundtracks around right now, in both senses of the word. It's that simple.

55 comments

  • timothy-hames - March 6, 2012 11:28 a.m.

    So many really outstanding sound tracks. I would have put 1 Deus Ex: Human Revolution - Icarus 2 (each of these are amazing in there in rights) Metal Gear Solid 3 Snake Eater: Main Theme or Metal Gear Solid Peace : Walker Main Theme 3 Chrono Cross - Scars of Time 4 Machinarium - The Bottom 5 Red Dead Redemption - The Shootist 6 Halo: Combat Evolved OST - Halo 7 Shogun 2 Total War OST - Major Attack From Above 8 Mirror's Edge 9 Secret of Mana 10 Chrono Trigger
  • psycho ninja 4 - February 13, 2012 12:10 a.m.

    Is it too cliched to say halo or assassins creed? But still the deus ex theme is just awesome.
  • reaperman22 - February 12, 2012 3:37 a.m.

    my favourites are still the god of war soundtracks,whenever i hear 'rage of sparta' or 'the end begins' i just cant help myself from pretending to know what they are saying and singing along out loud while fist pumping along to its epicness (probably a good thing mp3 players aren't allowed to be used at work).... also the arkham city inspired by album is pretty good, even if 'deranged' is the only song that is definitely about batman (god of war blood and metal was the same, awesome album but it was only really 'even gods cry' that you could listen to and know without a doubt what it was about)
  • DigitalSensationUK - February 12, 2012 3:10 a.m.

    The Deus Ex: HR is brilliant and complements the game perfectly. I also agree with the others about the Uncharted 2 OST it's incredible! Last year I also really liked the Disney Universe OST nice remixes of classic themes and kinda cute but I feel I should also mention my personal favourite which was Portal 2. For any budding sound designers out there - you need to get this! The production is phenomenal and it has a really unique/experimental side to it. Best of all it's FREE! If you haven't already, download all 64 tracks immediately :D http://www.thinkwithportals.com/music.php
  • Dazbot - February 10, 2012 8:16 a.m.

    Amon Tobin's Chaos Theory seemed like a very odd choice for a Splinter Cell game, but it works so damn well and helps make it one of my favourite games of the previous generation. I still listen to it now!
  • GrandTheftAuto - February 10, 2012 1:37 a.m.

    They should've included the Battlefield theme, one of the best themes out there! Or atleast some of the music pieces from Bad Company 1, they were really good! Search on YT "Bad company soundtrack" and "War theme"
  • FrozenImplosion - February 9, 2012 6:13 p.m.

    I'm glad you guys included Deus Ex and Mirror's Edge, but where is Bastion or Shadows of the Damned (just to name two great games from the last year)?
  • Ded - February 11, 2012 9:59 a.m.

    Does Shadow's of the Damned have it's soundtrack on iTunes..? The World Ends With You soundtrack is there though, which is pretty good.
  • Davyerit - February 9, 2012 6:04 p.m.

    Absolutely loved the article... and then found out that Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana were only available on the UK iTunes. Very bummed about that. We did find (and buy) a couple of the others, and we're trying to narrow down some of the rest... as our wallet can't afford all of them. :) Thanks for the great recommendations!
  • BLOODmuffins - February 9, 2012 5:57 p.m.

    The Assassin's Creed games, especially II, have fantastic soundtracks
  • XLGirthMan - February 9, 2012 5:37 p.m.

    For the record, the "music inspired by" soundtrack for Batman Arkham City has Deranged by Coheed and Cambria, and it's fucking brilliant. So don't knock it too much...
  • chriszewski - February 9, 2012 4:05 p.m.

    Lost Odyssey's soundtrack was pretty stellar and also done by Nobuo Uematsu. Not sure if its on iTunes but i have it in old, obsolete CD format. Its also all over youtube.
  • maxw144 - February 9, 2012 3:06 p.m.

    The Bionic commando rearmed OST really is fantastic. I don't think I coud have a list like this without the Nier soundtrack. It works incredibly as both a score and on its own. I'd also probably mention Takeharu Ishimoto's (of the TWEWY OST) FF: Crisis core soundtrack. It has a main theme that it twists and changes over and over again to fit different moods. It works incredibly as a collection.
  • BackwaterRifle - February 9, 2012 2:28 p.m.

    Fallout 3's ambient themes, Composed by Inon Zur, are pretty damn good, but you can't buy them. Youtube is your best friend if you want to listen.
  • espenrio - February 9, 2012 1:29 p.m.

    You're obviously missing the soundtrack for The World Ends With You, which is on iTunes, and is the only videogame soundtrack I paid for, for a good reason. It's awesome.
  • Guardian88 - February 9, 2012 3:05 p.m.

    Danm right. That soundtrack is just so awesome as are the remakes.
  • Sjoeki - February 9, 2012 1:09 p.m.

    The intro song of MGS 2 still gives me goosebumps.
  • Sentient - February 9, 2012 12:59 p.m.

    You're missing WH40K: Dawn of War 2 - Doyle W. Donehoo. Also Super Meat Boy.
  • joebob286 - February 9, 2012 12:54 p.m.

    WHY ISN'T BIOSHOCK ON HERE?!?!?!?!?!?!? Bioshock, Silent Hill 2, and Medal of Honor: European Assault are without a doubt my 3 favorite video game soundtracks
  • GaryTheGuidoHunter - February 9, 2012 12:52 p.m.

    Superb article! Loved all these soundtracks especially Deus Ex

Showing 1-20 of 55 comments

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