Music, the universal language. While people notice different things when they play video games, one of the first things to pop out to me is the music. It is one of the most effective ways to convey emotions. In fact, there are some games that rely almost completely on music to make the player more immersed. Music is not something to take for granted, so here is a list of my five favorite video game composers.
5. David Wise
This man has a very large number of titles he's worked on, but the reason that he hits this list for me is the Donkey Kong Country series. The music in that series has always been fantastic, moody and catchy in all the right ways for the type of platformer that DKC was. I honestly haven't heard his work from a lot of his older games. From the SNES era and on though, I'm totally familiar. He also did Battletoads, Star Fox Adventures and Diddy Kong Racing which all have fantastic scores. Maybe it's just nostalgia speaking for me in the case of David Wise, but the DKC series stands to have some of the best music in gaming for me. I especially like the way he manages to intertwine a level of silliness into the music while maintaining a very exciting feeling that doesn’t pull you away from the experience, but rather brings you further into it. He even came back to the DKC series again to do Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (he was not involved in Donkey Kong Country Returns).
4. Team Blizzard
I'm sorry, but I couldn't just pick one specific composer for #4, because I just wouldn't be doing them all justice otherwise. These guys are the ones responsible for the music from Blizzard (I like to refer to these composers as ‘Team Blizzard’). This includes the Diablo series, Warcraft series and StarCraft series. Since I'm not too familiar with Diablo, I won't include that in my assessment here. While I’ll admit that StarCraft 1 felt a bit juvenile and too dependent on traditional sci-fi nods, the rest of the games they've done I find to have beautifully crafted music. There is nothing more challenging than creating tunes you know people will listen to for hours and hours. That's the way real-time strategy games work though. Each race or faction will cycle through a handful of tunes, and most players usually pick one race/faction as their mainstay. That being said, I can't even begin to tell you the number of times I've heard the Orc, Undead and Zerg songs throughout my life. Each track is appropriately made to represent the theme of the race, while pulling you in in just the right ways. When I'm playing as the Zerg, the combination of the sounds and music help me FEEL like I want to act as a Zerg would. There are very specific sounds and styles that are used that make you feel like you are part of a hive mind, almost an insect-like monster race. That's something special. To top it off, they managed to take the music to a whole new level with Warcraft 3 and StarCraft 2, offering extremely epic and emotional pieces that really made the campaigns a lot more meaningful. Last, but not least, let's not forget about the brilliant work that has been put into World of Warcraft. They manage to pull a large variety of themes to fit all the different situations and areas of the game, and frankly speaking...the music in WoW does not get old. While I wouldn’t necessarily praise Heroes of the Storm, the very catchy and comfort of the music in Hearthstone certainly works as well. These guys deserve every bit of praise they can get.
NOTE: The main composers behind Blizzard’s music are: Russell Brower, Neal Acree, Clint Bajakian, Glenn Stafford, Jason Hayes and Derek Duke. With so many, that’s why I didn’t include a picture of each of them. My apologies.
3. Martin O'Donnell