All The Best Game Music Is On SoundCloud

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You know this probably sounds like a self explanatory title, but if you haven’t ever heard of SoundCloud it is a streaming music site that is used by a lot of unsigned bands and DJ’s/Composers to showcase their talents. Those can be original songs, remixes, podcasts and anything in between.

But it’s also home to a lot of excellent and beautiful music from our beloved video games. Many developers have released songs to stream on the site and Playstation also have a great load of game music on their page as well. In fact, you can find a lot of publishers, developers and composers who have released their game music on SoundCloud. No longer are iTunes or Spotify the only places you can find these gems of video game composition. So just to be a bit of debate starter I’m going to list some of the favourites that I’ve found, my personal highlights if you will, and if you have anymore then please link them and share.

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Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture promised many things and it has delivered on them so far. One of these things was a beautiful soundtrack. Composed by Jessica Curry and James Morgan, Dust and Shadow is just one of the haunting choral and orchestral melodies that you will here in the game.

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Max Payne’s dark, disturbing and melancholic theme is one thing that has stuck throughout the series. There is a great communication in the soundtrack to a game sometimes that perfectly portrays the world and character. This version of the cello theme from Max Payne 3’s composers HEALTH is one of the most haunting versions.

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Ok so this is a bit of a cop out but it is on there and I challenge you to find a better game that so brilliantly uses the leitmotif in this theme and throughout game. Gustavo Santaolalla is a magnificent composer and, like all good entertainment, his score is one vital part of a great big experience.

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I’ve put this here because it is a wonderful score in general. The darkness of Mordor and the lore that precedes the green prettiness of JRR Tolkein’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings is here in abundance. It is also is co-composed by Nathan Grigg and Garry Schyman, the latter name you might know from the Bioshock series.

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Long live Tangerine Dream. Edgar Froese’s music is one of the great things that glues Grand Theft Auto together. His electronic progressive rock that mixed with experimental soundscapes gave us an excellent connection between three otherwise distant and different characters. Whilst the music featured on Grand Theft Auto is some of the best popular music in recent years, the music OF Grand Theft Auto is also some of the best composed music.

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Here we go on a bit of a love letter to Devolver Digital, but we said in our review of Titan Souls that one of the things that really binds the feeling of loneliness in the game is the music, expertly composed by David Fenn. The inspirations behind this are easily recalled which is a testament to how well the music has captured the genre and respected those that came before it.

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Are you kidding me? Of course we’re going to have some Hotline Miami on here. In fact the entire soundtrack to the first game is available on Devolver’s page and is perfect for a Friday afternoon countdown to the weekend.

There are some great selections from Hotline Miami 2 as well. These two are my personal favourites but you should definitely look them up yourself.

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Here’s a more fantasy based game with The Witcher 3. Polish composer Marcin Przybylowicz’s soundtrack (featuring Percival) is a brilliant achievement and as many of the games journalists on the internet will testify to, a great part of an even greater game. You’ll also find some select cuts from The Witcher 2’s soundtrack on his page as well.

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I make no bones about the fact that the Halo soundtracks are some of my favourites. I’ve waxed lyrical about the Halo 3: ODST soundtrack in the past. But if you asked me to choose one song from it all, it would be Unforgotten, or as the rerecorded Halo 2 Anniversary edition version is named “Unforgotten Memories”. It is a wonderful theme that repeats itself throughout the second and third games, along with the inspired change of tact from the more well known gregorian monk chanting. But for good measure I’ve included that below along with some riffing guitar too.

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E3 Recap – Sony Press Conference

You may have heard us talk about the Sony E3 Press Conference on TheGameJar podcast this past weekend. If you haven’t then go and do it, but read this at the same time. Because, you know, multitasking right?

You could argue that Sony certainly had the most invested in their conference in terms of delivering. Their console is still outselling the Xbox One (for the fifth month in a row now) and whilst the big name Christmas stocking filler battles over Xbox DLC exclusivity, Sony have very quietly bagged themselves some big names.

destiny-alpha-screen-night-timeSince the conference, two games have had some early release testing. The much anticipated Bungie original IP, Destiny, had an early exclusive Alpha release and an exclusive PS4 beta announced. As quick as that happened, Battlefield Hardline also released a multiplayer beta for the PS4. But sticking with Destiny, Sony are obviously investing a lot into the potential this game has and I think, having watched a lot of the early access videos, it is the right decision. The white PS4 console bundle with the game could be just what the people debating how to enter the current generation console market need to convince them.

The big names that Sony unleashed with gameplay certainly felt a lot more conclusive than the Xbox conference, to me personally. Sony are obviously very confident in the power of their console and that’s evident by the amount of gameplay that was shown. There was a certain confusion and potential trepidation at the gameplay reveal of The Order 1886 in my eyes. The gameplay looked interesting and atmospheric but it felt a tad confused and there wasn’t enough to excite me.

Then there was Entwined. The immediately released game that feels like the bastard of Child of Eden and After Burner. It was interesting, especially as a debut game, but again not enough for me to jump straight in to it. Then more inFamous spin offs and I zoned out a bit… Until Sack Boy appeared.

If you don’t love Sack Boy, regardless of your thoughts of Little Big Planet, then you are morally bankrupt and dead inside. As I said in the Podcast, it always confused me how amazing some of the levels created by the community happen so quickly and so effectively. But it is definitely encouraging for the PS4 community to have a truly co-op creative platformed.

far-cry-4-fc4We can skip to Far Cry 4 and how excited everyone is about this game. It’s certainly no secret about how powerful the Cry Engine is. The amount of corners and performance possibilities that the previous generation of consoles couldn’t deliver is now behind us. Far Cry’s gameplay is always great, but the environments especially are spectacular and always have been. Far Cry 4 has nailed it already. Plus elephants. Elephants dammit!

Then there was the Dead Island 2 reveal. A game I’m excited for as the promise of Dead Island (despite the lacklustre end game) was enough for me to enjoy it.

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Let’s skip ahead to the big Naughty Dog reveals. The Last of Us Remastered looks great and for those of us who have ashamedly never played it, we get all the goodies at once. Then the reveal for Uncharted 4, presumably the final saga of Nathan Drake, but the excitement was enough to end the conference in style.

Batman… BATMAN! Wow, how good did that look? Gotham has always been the most dark and atmospheric place in the ‘open world’ genre and the PS4 certainly looks like its got it going on. It was always going to be impressive but it looks great.

It may feel like I’m rushing through these and I am. Because I want to get to the two things that greatly impressed and surprised me. Firstly, Grim Fandango. I remember the original release and anyone who’s played the Monkey Island remasters will know how great the original games are, let alone the graphical upgrade they had. If there is anything that deserves the re release and the updating then it is Grim Fandango.

NoMansSkyFieldFinally it is my place to talk about the most impressive game at E3, although how well it actually runs and how smooth it is going to be interesting, is the debut game from Hello Games. No Man’s Sky is an FPS exploration game come flight sim come combat sim that is procedurally generated. The promise of practically infinite gameplay and exploration, especially with how diverse and colourful it looks, makes this game an incredibly generation defining title. Plus Sean Murray, despite being having the same name as me bias, looks like a guy who’s really invested in creating something special and inspired by great things. Part of me worries that it could be too big and too ambitious and that delays and setbacks could halt it. Although that’s a hangover of my experience of many games too ambitious for the technology and too stuck without an end purpose. This I feel will combat that, and I hope it does because for all the big titles and particle effects and grand big sellers, this game looks to be what gaming is all about and what Playstation was all about from the beginning. So, here’s hoping.

Finally I shall leave you with two pieces of information you wanted to know but didn’t know how to find out. The music for the Metal Gear Solid V trailer was Nuclear by Mike Oldfield and The Last Of Us trailer was a cover of Nirvana’s Something In The Way by a band called At Sea.

Oh and Grand Theft Auto V looks good enough to bury Watch_Dogs and I’m going to be silly enough to buy it.

What do you think about the Sony conference? Why not leave a comment or talk about it on Facebook and Twitter. We don’t bite!

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SingOn Review

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This is the strange thing about this review – SingOn isn’t strictly a game. I mean there are gaming elements to it of course, but the truth of it is this is more of an app than a game.

SingOn is a karaoke ‘game’ that is coming for the PS3 this week for its initial release. However its plans on household domination are hoping to be stretched to most consoles and even Smart TV’s. That’s because all this game/app needs is an internet connection. SingOn boasts a rather large catalogue of over 1,000 songs of various different genres. How? Well because, in the words of Tommi Halonen, Executive Producer of SingOn, it is “a streaming entertainment service rather than a gaming title.”

SingOn will have an ever-expanding catalogue of titles on a weekly basis. Unlike the rhythm games that proliferate and, let’s face it, spam our DLC sections on the stores; it will all be streamed to the game. Much like a karaoke Spotify if you will. The idea is that this is a social game that everyone can play. Halonen, who does a mean version of ‘Angels’ by Robbie Williams by the way, expanded on this further to me, saying:

“It’s a party game, it’s a family game, it’s for everybody basically. That’s why we have such a wide range in the catalogue.”

SingOn SeanWhich is a good thing to point out. At launch the catalogue will be fairly substantial with everything from rock, heavy metal and pop going up to be streamed. I managed to throw in a few verses of Poison’s ‘Every Rose Has It’s Thorn’ and some ‘More Than Words’ by Extreme. But there will be very regular updates, at least weekly if not more often.

“That’s one of our strengths,” Tommi pointed out to me, “for example, we keep updating the UK chart, so whenever there are new hits coming on radio players and Spotify we can put it on within the week, which is something no one has ever done before.”

In fact the benefit of this is that, because they are all Karaoke songs, there isn’t anything of the red tape horror of copyright legislations and all that palava from record labels/publishers.

In my most humble of moments I asked Tommi “What if I’m crap at singing?”

”It doesn’t matter. We have a few voice changing features. We have TuneOn which auto tunes your voice.”

So now you have the facts, you can have the review.

In fact there are two modes. There is the auto tuning function, which is pretty good, and there is a RoboOn voice, which emulates the kind of Daft Punk style electronic voice to the song. Advance warning, the latter seems cool, but if left on, the novelty will quickly wear off. If you do this and have hyperactive kids or irritating friends, it’s best not to tell them about it.

The service works very well indeed. The streaming of songs is quick, the words come up and your lyrics appear on the screen with an excellent sparkly fill. You’ll also get points (ala rhythm games) in order to judge your performance. This is where, as a veteran player of these games, I did notice a slight latency issue. But that could also have been me jumping the gun in anticipation of the lyrics. Something that familiarity of songs occasionally does. So in that regard the service is very good.

The catalogue is already as varied and open as it can be. In fact the only thing I noticed it was missing was musical theatre. Which, knowing several performing artists and their love for karaoke, is probably for the best unless you want to burn out your PS3 from overuse.

The social element is certainly something this game pulls off pretty well. The playlisting function and the ability to search while the songs are running is excellent. It’s smooth and it isn’t intrusive at all. So there isn’t any of that dithering silence between songs. You can get up, swap things around and have a continuous stream of people warbling their little souls out without the irritating pauses and indecision.

SingOn

So where are the negatives here? Well… You of course need a microphone. SingOn can use any mics from SingStar, Rock Band and Guitar Hero automatically. Which certainly solves the issues for console owners that have them. If not you can get them easily second hand or in a shop for cheap enough.

How much is it going to cost me, you ask? Now there are a few options here, you can have a three hour pass for around £3, a 2 day pass for £6 or a whole year for around £50. Really your choice here is a justification of how much you want to use it. The app itself is free and includes ten songs, also for free. If you think you have a party coming then your options are there. Certainly beats a DJ and people arguing over the iPod anyway.

Essentially, what you need to know is that I had a lot of fun with it. It certainly is a social game though, best enjoyed in the company of friends, family or people who are too drunk to be classified. It isn’t a game like your Rock Band’s or Guitar Hero’s. If you’re having a house party, it’s certainly something awesome to have on without the clunky, bad quality karaoke machines you can get from catalogue stores. But hey, it’s free so give it a go.

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It’s an app, not a game, which streams karaoke songs to you so you can sing your heart out (butcher) your favourite songs without downloading. The expanding catalogue and UK Top 20 deal will see it remain joyfully up to date too.

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[tab title=”Good Points”]- Streaming works very well.

– Large ever-expanding catalogue.

– Easy to use.[/tab]
[tab title=”Bad Points”]- Mic needed.

– Pricing options need you to work out how much you’ll play it.[/tab]
[tab title=”Why an 8?”]It is exactly what it says it is and does it well. A wonderful social gaming experience.[/tab]
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Screenshots

SingOn SingOn SingOn SingOn SingOn SingOn

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The Real BAFTA Winners

Last week, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts bestowed some its bronze-faced trophies to the gaming industry and the people behind some of the best selling games of the past year. Namely Grand Theft Auto 5 and The Last of Us.

But in my purely observational opinion, whilst they won the trophies, they weren’t the only winners or at least the best winners. I’m talking about the people who were nominated and, more importantly I suppose from the selfish point of view, the gamers… Us.

the last of us review 2This year was the tenth BAFTA Video Game Awards and you could say that the winners and nominees have been pretty focused towards the AAA producers of the gaming industries. The franchise players like Halo, God of War, EA, Microsoft, Activision, et al. But this year I think is the first year where I’ve felt that games were not just stuck in the best sellers wins category but also that there was those more independent and smaller game producers that we’ve all been glued to for the past eighteen months.

This is why I think the gamers are the real winners here. Over the past couple of years the market for creating your own video game and being as creative and enjoyable as any other games that you have ever played in your life has boomed.

Journey won some well-deserved awards for the 2012 ceremony, before that Notch of Minecraft fame won an award. This year, Papers, Please took away an award and was nominated for many more. Gone Home also took away an award and was nominated for more. The Stanley Parable was placed in the same categories as The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto 5.

Now I’m not saying that they all should have won more. Let’s face it, the competition this year were shoe-ins for awards as the pinnacles of the video game as an art form, which they truly are. But the fact that these games have co-existed with them goes to show how much our beloved video game has come along.

If you’ve not played any of the three recent indie titles I’ve mentioned then you should. Put down that controller, step on to your laptop (it can play them all pretty well) and just enjoy what you have at your fingertips.

Papers-Please-Entry-Denied featWhen you’re a small independent producer, you’ve probably done this as a labour of love and when things are so well received as they have been, it’s because your creativity and imagination with what you have to hand is beyond the measure of expectations. If Papers, Please, Gone Home and The Stanley Parable aren’t amazing examples of that, I don’t know what is.

I’m sure we’ll see Titanfall up for the Multiplayer award next year and Watch Dogs, Dying Light and Destiny duke it out for top dog. But as the industry slowly moves to its new generation of consoles, the amount of independent gaming being released is increasing vastly.

I’m excited to play the games that will win awards for sure in the 11th British Academy Video Games Awards. But I’m more excited to play the imaginative, out-of-the-box creations that will give them a run for their money. So really… I’ve won, right? Just send that Bronze-faced bad boy to my PO Box and I’ll see you in smug-land.

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