It true what a lot of people say that sound in games has been shifting more and more towards immersion and realism, rather than the Goldie oldies when it was just a unique catchy tune you may not have really payed too much attention to, but you would instantly recognize and identify that game with. These days, video gamers are learning to expect great things from the sounds of games, as more and more people tune in and appreciate the music on its own, as well as enjoying the gameplay.
"In games we predominantly use three of the five senses; sight, hearing and touch. All three are integrated into the game to help immerse you within the experience. We all take the sounds in games for granted but if you think about them they complete the game." Matt Waite
Personally I totally agree with this, as I find it incredibly difficult to even play a game with the volume turned off, let alone enjoy it. If you think about how in recent years, there has been a obvious cry of nostalgia for old soundtracks to games, that originally didn't ship with distributing the soundtrack separately. It may just be me, but It seems more and more these days, old revived soundtracks are being dug up and people are paying money for them!
Most recently I noticed Blizzard Entertainment posted on their Diablo III website they have launched a anniversary album of the first Diablo soundtrack which launched back in 1996. So if you are a die hard fan, and blue blood Blizzard supporter, you can buy the 17 track album for only $11.99... or just listen to it here :D
I have to I have always appreciated the sounds in the games I've played. For me its always been a massive element of what sells the experience, so much so that I've invested a lot of money in high end speakers and a headset to really take full advantage of that immersion. However, I don't consider myself as extreme an audiophile as the "game elite". This class usually applies to first person shooters, where gamers actually seek tactical advantage based on the quality of their sound. The ability to hear a persons footstep behind you or the exact direction and distance of gunfire can mean the difference between a win or a loss. Check this video out, I think its a little extreme but its talking about taking sound to another level entirely. Its called MyEars
I have played games in the past where the music was mediocre and sound effects bad, and it does really impact my ability to enjoy the experience. No matter how well the rest of the game is. Though I do remember back in the Xbox original days, my friends and I used to play our own music over the sounds of the game. Something that I think is quite rare these days...
Most games developers these days seem to invest quite a bit in the music for their games, and its become the norm to ship a game with the either a bundled copy of the soundtrack behind the game, or at least the option to purchase it for yourself, no waiting around.
Games like The Elder scrolls five: Skyrim had such big boots to fill, following on from its two incredibly successful predecessors, that the developers, Bethesda Softworks, really had to go all out to make sure the musics and sounds in the game lived up to hype and expectations. So writing and recording a fully orchestrated, original score? No problem, just hire Jeremy Soule again; award winning composer who worked on the previous two games.
Hey! they even went one further to one up the previous two titles, and out stage other competing titles, by inventing a written and spoken language from the ground up, and then incorporating it into their songs. I have nothing but respect for Bethesda... no fanboy or nuthin.. *cough*
But seriously, sound is so powerful in games these days, especially when you look at the horror genre. One game in particular that really stands out to me and, if I'm being honest made me shit bricks; was Amnesia: The Dark Decent. Personally horror doesn't do it for me, so I don't usually play games like this or watch films in that genre.
So for me there are some clear winners in the massive list of games I've played that earned a place in the sonic soundtracks on my own game history. I could link more but that might be overkill. Enjoy!