The PlayStation 3 launched at the end of 2006. At the time, it was the most powerful of the Next-Gen consoles (meanwhile, the PC gamer master race continued to snigger). The past seven years have seen not only the release of some of the most impressive and critically acclaimed games of all time, but also an increase in the public acceptance of video games as a form of entertainment. As the release of the PS4 last week marked the “end” of the current generation, I’d like to take a minute and remember some of my favorite moments. That’s why, for this edition of The High Notes, we’re looking at some of the most memorable music from the PS3.
Final Fantasy XIII – Sunleth Waterscape
To say that Final Fantasy XIII was a controversial release would be an understatement. Despite an original, fast-paced battle system, the lack of towns, convoluted story, and overall linear structure left many gamers feeling a bit put off. However, one area that didn’t disappoint was the music. FFXIII‘s soundtrack lives up to the series’ lofty standards and features some great themes, including one of the most rocking battle themes ever. In my opinion, though, the most memorable pieces in the game is dungeon theme from the Sunleth Waterscape, a deep ravine filled with rivers and rock formations. The song starts off strong, with the melody being established by very clean piano. Amusingly, the quick tempo of the song actually matches your character’s running speed, so the entire level feels very rhythmic. This also one of the only dungeon themes I’ve ever heard with lyrics. The voice is very pleasant, and the volume of the vocals are low enough that it doesn’t overpower the rest of the song. All together, it makes for a very enjoyable jog through the wilderness.
Dark Souls – Firelink Shrine
Anyone who has played Dark Souls will know that, except for their own screams of anguish and frustration, the game doesn’t have a whole lot of music. Most of its soundtrack is reserved for the boss encounters, leaving other areas silent so that the player can listen for clues and warnings about potential dangers. One of the few exceptions to this is the Firelink Shrine, the main hub area where players arrive at the start of the game. The song itself is very slow and peaceful, accenting the relative safety of the area. As someone who has played more than his fair share of the game, I can tell you from experience that, after braving the many fiends, monsters, and traps that Dark Souls throws at you, making it safely back to the shrine feels like coming home. Its a tiny moment to relax, take stock of your latest achievements, and plan your next move. Its rare that a game can create such a subtle emotion, and its one of the little things that make the Souls games so great.
Journey – Apotheosis
Frequenters of our site will know that we love us some Journey. Everything about the game, including the art style, the anonymous multiplayer, and the quiet mystery of the world, all come together to form a short, focused experience that really has to be played to be fully appreciated. One of the first things that grabbed my attention, before the game even released, was the game’s ethereal soundtrack, courtesy of Austin Wintory. More specifically, this song, which appears during a particularly poignant moment in your journey (pun intented), is one of the most beautiful piece of music I’ve ever heard. The combination of all the violins and other string instruments together is both somber and triumphant at the same time. In a game where the player can practically fly, this piece is a perfect accent for this mechanic, and makes the moment all the more special. As it winds down at the end, the tone becomes one of reflection, helping the player to think about everything they have been doing. It makes for an amazing moment, and one that I can’t recommend enough for anyone who has yet to experience it.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Another Winter
Well, this is a little different. In a list where I spend most of the entries talking about how deep and meaningful the song is, here is one that I’m including because it perfectly captures one of the most important aspects of gaming: fun. Scott Pilgrim is an old-school beat-’em-up that pays homage to games like Final Fight and Streets of Rage. While the game is very enjoyable by itself, the thing that pushes it to the point of greatness is the presentation, including the sprite art of Paul Robertson and music by chip tunes group Anamanaguchi. This song, which plays during the opening stage, is catchy and energetic as only synthesized instruments can be. It’s refreshingly nostalgic, and brings up all the great memories from the Super Nintendo era. All in all, it’s the perfect song to get you pumped up about punching dudes in the face until they turn into coins.
Nier – Song of the Ancients
When making Nier, Square Enix experimented quite a bit with their usual formula, mixing in different genres into the gameplay and substituting world-saving adventures for a much darker, more personal tale. As a result, a lot of people ended up skipping the game, which is a damn shame, as the music alone is worth the price of admission. The soundtrack of Nier is full of songs that are both haunting and beautiful the same time. “Song of the Ancients” is a perfect example of this, managing to be both whimsical and melancholy at the same time. The vocals and the song are especially amazing, and the fact that the singer, Emi Evans, is using a made up language gives the song an otherworldly quality. The use of the song in the game itself is also really cool. It is the theme of the starting town, and there’s actually an NPC singing it. When the player is near her, the vocals can be heard, but they stop if the player talks to the woman or leaves the area. It’s a really neat touch that makes the start of the game even more memorable.
The past seven years have been an amazing time for our favorite medium. With some of the things that have been shown for the PS4, as well as the many PS3 that have yet to release, that doesn’t seem to be changing any time soon. I can’t wait to play, watch, and (especially) listen to what is coming. But for now, I’m content to go back and re listen to some of the amazing music that this generation has brought us. Do you have any other music from the PS3 that you’re fond of? Let us know in the comments below.