The soundtrack is gradually becoming one of the more important parts of a game, able to ever-so-gentle affect the tone and mood of a game. Battlefield 4′s modern war zones are accompanied by the, for want of a better term, gritty and heavily distorted thudding and synths, standing in stark contrast to Austin Wintory’s hauntingly etherial compositions for last year’s winner, Journey.
This year’s staff winner comes from a newcomer to the video games industry, as Gustavo Santaolalla’s sublimely evocative work leant an extra dimension to the world and atmosphere of The Last of Us.
Even just the title music brings together all of the inspirations and themes from the game. With the ronroco gracefully picking out the melody above a selection of strings, drums, it has moments of sorrow, poignance, hope, redemption, all within the space of a few minutes. But through the rest of the soundtrack, he finds so many ways to use a wide selection of common, exotic and unusual instruments with which to compose music absolutely appropriate for every moment within the post-apocalyptic story of the game.
It’s unsurprising, then, that The Last of Us holds a commanding gap to BioShock Infinite in second place. Infinite too saw a strong original score come to the front, but this was combined with the anachronistic renditions of more modern popular music than the game’s 1912 setting should allow.
BioShock just about manages to beat GTA V, which sits in third thanks in part to its simply vast selection of licensed music, spread out across in-game radio stations. In an interesting twist, they turn to these radio stations and specific tracks at specific moments during the story, for greater dramatic effect.
Rayman Legends original soundtrack mixed with the exquisitely clever levels designed around the rhythms and music of Black Betty and other popular modern music to secure itself in fourth place. An honourable mention goes to a Peter Chapman other than our own, as the TSA owner’s namesake teamed up with Rom Di Prisco for Guacamelee! in fifth, ahead of The Wind Waker HD, Super Mario 3D World, Tearaway, Monaco and finally Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon.
The Last of Us featured TheSixthAxis’ soundtrack of the year.