Secret of Mana
Composer: Hiroki Kikuta Buy it here
While his Final Fantasy soundtracks have meant that Nobuo Uematsu has always been Square-Enix's most famous composer, he certainly hasn't been responsible for all of the developer's best music. In face he was nowhere near one of its best soundtracks. The SNES entries of the Secret of Mana (or Seiken Densetsu) series have always been the domain of Hiroki Kikuta, and the vastly eclectic music he put out for them easily equals (and often beats) the very best of Final Fantasy. Whether it's the gentle drive of the guitar and woodwind focused woodland tunes, the ethereal majesty of the Water Palace, the mournfully beautiful Ice Country themes or the delicate but devastatingly rousing opening theme, Secret of Mana is full of some of the absolute best music the Super NES ever produced. And by definition that means it's some of the absolute best game music ever made.
Mass Effect 2
Composer: Jack Wall Buy it here
The coldly powerful synth and rapid-fire digital raindrop percussive effects of Mass Effect 2's soundtrack shamelessly echo Vangelis' Blade Runner score, but since when was sounding a bit like one of the greatest film scores ever written any kind of a bad thing? Never. So Mass Effect 2's soundtrack is brilliant. Get it.
Composer: Solar Fields / Lisa Mizkovsky Buy it here
Damn shame that Mirror's Edge's full soundtrack got sidelined by the use of Lisa Mizkovsky's nice but over-rated "Still Alive" across all of the game's publicity. You see the complete score by Solar Fields is far more interesting, energising and affecting. Blending moody, downbeat electronica, chilled, airy beats and all-out pounding psytrance, it's a storming album to have in your collection regardless of any game-based association whatsoever.
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
Composer: Amon Tobin Buy it here
Amon Tobin's noir-ish, trip-hop-tinged soundtrack to the best of the original Splinter Cell games is just a damnably cool album from start to finish. Away from the tense and panic-stricken distractions of Chaos Theory's gameplay, this is one hell of a smooth, layered, assured set of tunes, every bit as enigmatic as it is moody.
Composer: Jesper Kyd Buy it here
Jesper Kyd is one of the best game composers working today. A pioneer since the days of the Mega Drive, his ability to stimulate and innovate with electronic and orchestral sounds alike has carved out a unique aural path littered with stellar soundtrack after stellar soundtrack. His work on the Hitman series is legendary, but his soundtrack for the still tragically unsequelled Freedom Fighters remains possibly his most powerful.
Composer: Yasunori Mitsuda, Nobuo Uematsu and Noriko Matsueda Buy it here
Another JRPG essential that you absolutely cannot afford to be without. This time a co-production between Xenosaga's Yasunori Mitsuda and Final Fantasy's Nobuo Uematsu and Noriko Matsueda, Chrono Trigger's is one of the most breezy, eclectic, and subtly powerful soundtracks of any game in the genre.