Posted December 9, 2012 by Zeth in Reviews

Greatest Video Game Music 2 Review

Greatest Video Game Music 2
Greatest Video Game Music 2

The Greatest Video Game Music 2 seems like a strange thing in concept. Why would I, or you, want to own the music from a video game? Well why wouldn’t we? I’ve made no secret of my love of music and audio in games throughout my many years of writing. So why don’t we have more of these albums?

Many, many thousands of movie and television show sound tracks get sold each year. Plenty of people kick back to the sounds of Glee, Dark Knight Rises, inception…. even Fifty Shades of Grey, a book, has a classical album associated with it! There seems to be a massive barrier at times for people to accept a sound track album compiled of video game music.

Not for me though. I’ve been making my own video game sound tracks compilations since I worked out how to record tune from my ZX Spectrum on the 2nd tape deck of my player. Or when I could pile loads of tracks on to a single CD and throw that in the car. X5 music Group have managed to go one step better though and last years The Greatest Video Game Music was a triumph. Bringing together UK based composer, conductor and member of the superb The Divine Comedy,  Andrew Skeet and the world renowned London Philharmonic orchestra to record a series of tracks based on many classic games titles.

Well they’ve listened to the massive wave of positive feedback from that compilation and strive to outdo themselves with the latest offering The Greatest Video Game Music 2.

The track list is as follows:

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations – Main Theme
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim – Far Horizons
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker – Dragon Roost Island
Final Fantasy VII – One-Winged Angel
Mass Effect 3 – A Future for the Krogan/An End Once And For All
Halo – Never Forget/Peril
Sonic the Hedgehog – A Symphonic Suite
Chrono Trigger – Main Theme
Luigi’s Mansion – Main Theme
Kingdom Hearts – Fate of the Unknown
Super Metroid – A Symphonic Poem
Diablo III – Overture
Batman: Arkham City – Main Theme
Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Icarus Main Theme
Fez – Adventure
Portal – Still Alive
Little Big Planet – Orb Of Dreamers (The Cosmic Imagisphere)

The selection of music here is astoundingly eclectic. Less tracks then the previous compilation, 17 versus 21 in the first, but more emphasis on the grandiose. I went about this the wrong way. I listened to The Greatest Video Game Music 2 and then, based on the strength of that album, purchased the original title. This was probably a mistake. The first album is great, really truly great – but the second is divine – with the exception of Still Alive.

The production values are second to none. The productions feel well treated, well paced, expertly scored and played with feeling an enthusiasm. Nothing on this album feels like a money grab or has just been phoned-in by those involved.
First to my only gripe – Still Alive from Portal. Now this just sounds wrong to me. Still Alive was a phenomenon. A true flash-point that you’d be hard pressed to recreate. Composer Jonathan Coulton produced a perfectly timed and superbly black-humoured song that, thanks to the superb talents of Ellen McLain, just blew everyone away. The digitisation of McLain’s voice and her turn of phrase as the original voice of GLaDOS just cemented that song as having a certain sound – her voice became the melody. In this reworking everything is done superbly well. The arrangement is great, the vocal work by Sarah Covey is well delivered but it all just feels a little hollow… it’s missing that spark. This isn’t a fault of the production – more a fault of my expectation and the retention of the original songs “sound”.Greatest Video Game Music 2

Moving on then it’s hard to overstate my satisfaction (you see what I did there?) with the selection of tracks on The Greatest Video Game Music 2. Tracks that you’d imagine to sound superb and be real blinders are, indeed, fantastic. Music from Assassin’s Creed, Batman: Arkham City, Deus Ex Human Revolution and Mass Effect 3 all sound truly epic. Sure these were well scored pieces of music in their own right before hand – but their treatment by Skeet has been inspired.The real stars of the entire album though are a mixture of the obvious and the not so much. Little Big Planet has always had a dreamy laid-back score. It’s inclusion here is a masterstroke and the track is indulgent and sumptuous. Luigi’s Mansion is quirky yet fun and offers a nice break to some of the more serious musical pieces on this compilation.

The first of my two stand-out tracks though must be Far Horizons from Skyrim . This soaring tune just fills my stomach with air. It lifts my heart and makes me feel like I’m drifting through a melodious nirvana. It immediately evokes strong images of my time in Skyrim, walking the open roads, trudging through valleys and cresting massive peeks as the sun hits the tip. It just evokes such strong emotions I have to go and play Skyrim almost immediately after!

My last choice is a little unusual – Sonic the hedgehog – A Symphonic Suite. Now we’ve all heard Sonic tunes throughout the years. They’re loud, brash electronic affairs that get your foot tapping and help pump up the adrenaline for taking on Dr Eggman/Robotnik. You’ve, just like me, never really stopped to appreciate just how beautiful a selection of tunes make up the Sonic games. From bouncing strings, jazz trumpets and soaring high notes this montage goes all over the spectrum evoking images of enjoying the games a youngster and revelling in the glory of Sonic’s greater days. What suddenly grabs you though, at around 3:20, is an absolutely astounding string section that breaks down one of the most iconic and fast paced of Sonic many tunes to a tear inducing melody. Just so soul-crushingly beautiful the entire album is worthy of the price for that alone.

Final Thoughts

I find it almost impossible not to recommend everyone with the ability to hear go out and get this compilation. It’s superbly crafted, arranged and performed. The selection of music has been well researched and it’s handling has been exemplary. Even if you look at the track list and only see one song you half might recognise of thing you’ll like just get it all – you’ll find treasures beyond your initial scepticism.

The Greatest Video Game Music 2 is a glorious homage to the hard work and dedication of musicians and composers working in the video game industry both now and in the past. The beauty of a lot of these songs will have been glossed over as you concentrated on dialogue or taking down an enemy. They prove that video game music should be something that receives as much recognition as any movie sound track. For long time lovers of the effort and artistry of video game music lie myself this is a dream compilation.

For the money, trust me my friends, this is essential.  Go grab it now from Amazon!



Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.