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Licensed music


iainl
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Inspired by my struggle to find a single thing to vote for in the "Best Compilation Soundtrack" category of the reader awards, I began wondering; is it just me that feels this way?

 

Particularly since the introduction of the Custom Soundtrack feature on the XBox, I've been getting really annoyed at how samey and annoying licensed music is in most games. If it involves extreme sports we'll get subjected to a bunch of Americans who mistakenly think they are in Stiff Little Fingers, racing games will involve either wailing big-hair-metal guitars or, in the case of the cars being replaced by futuristic hovercraft with whichever Orbital impersonators are cheapest this week.

 

And then there is the EA Sports technique of licensing something completely out-of-place for their FIFA series. Robbie Williams is horrible at the best of times; during a football match its even worse.

 

WipEout did all this really well all those years ago, but are there any other good examples? Or is this purely cross-over promotion and nothing else?

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Originally posted by iainl@Feb 5 2004, 11:29 AM

Particularly since the introduction of the Custom Soundtrack feature on the XBox, I've been getting really annoyed at how samey and annoying licensed music is in most games...

Is this because you believe that the CST feature disincents developers to spend thought/money on their soundtrack or because you CST really highlights what comprises a good soundtrack?

 

I really liked one of the Tony Hawk compilations. IIRC, it went beyond the usual suspects.

 

-j

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Hmmm, now that I think about it, I don't think there's ever been a game where I disliked the choice of licensed music. Maybe I didn't like 1 or two songs, but that's just because it didn't fit the style of music I liked. Amped 2 for example. There are a few songs on there that I don't think fit in with the whole snowboarding "theme", but there's so much other music in that game, it's not hard for me to switch and find another song I like.

 

Another example was hip-hop in Tiger Woods 2003/2004. I don't normally associate hip-hop with golf, and I know it's done to be "hip" and "cool", but it didn't really fit for me. Of course I didn't have a problem with the louder rock music in that game, so go figure.

 

I do agree that different styled games get the same music treatment. "Extreme" games get punk/rock/ska music. Basketball/Football get hip-hop. So on and so forth. But maybe I'm so accustomed to games having that style of music, it doesn't bother me.

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I think its a bit of both. While the licensed music that comes with games seems to be getting ever-more obvious (at least in the games I buy), there is also the fact that I'm less forgiving of tracks that don't grab me because I can easily replace them now.

 

I've not played the last couple of Tony Hawks games, but the early ones are full of music considered appropriate to the whole skating thing. Which makes sense, but its a genre I really don't like.

 

I suppose its there is also an element that the games I like the soundtracks most on (the GTA series, WipEout, MSR/PGR) are all written in the UK, and I so the fact that they better fit my British tastes better than US games makes sense.

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I agree Iain. I picked "Amped 2" in the poll, not because it was full of music I liked, but because it had so much music that I was able to find a selection I liked, which is rare (and it has a method of demoting a track you dislike or promoting one you like with the white and black buttons).

 

But I'm the first to admit that my taste in music is strange, abstract electronic music suits me best, most of the time. I think by far my favorite licensed in-game music is from Rez. Especially the Joujouka tracks (I have an older Joujouka CD), and the "Mindkiller" track.

 

The only other game that stands out at the moment for it's music is Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer - which had some cool laid-back groovy stuff. I probably wouldn't listen to it outside of the game, but it absolutely fit the game like a glove and made it more enjoyable.

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I've never been a big fan of licensed music. Mainly because after hearing the same 15 songs or so just gets very very annoying. Granted, some of the tunes chosen aren't bad (one of the Tony Hawk games had a Deltron 3030 track on it) but I've always been fine with 'incidental' game music. Honestly, I'd rather listen to the RBI Baseball theme than most of the licensed music.

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I thought SSX3 had a cool selection of tracks, especially the Oakenfold remix of Glass Danse by The Faint.. perfect for cruising down the slopes :) I really enjoyed the Frequency music and the Gran Turismo games usually have a decent selection, Wipeout Fusion wasn't too bad and even Need4Speed Underground except for the rap which i don't think really work in a racer.

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Vice City is indeed brilliant, and I'm kicking myself for forgetting about it. But is it really better than the absolutely hilarious original songs on the first game? The Ballad Of Chapped-Lips Calhoun still brings a smile to my face.

 

Mind you, I prefer the similiarly amusing likes of the Oasis-imitation on Metropolis Street Racer to most of the 'real' songs on its sequels, too.

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Grand Theft Auto Vice City is the only game I can think of with a "licensed" soundtrack that I can stand. But since I love 80s music - Foriegner, Motley Crue, Autograph, whatever! its all good. Grand Turismo 3 had a few songs I liked, again, Motley Crue and Judas Priest... oh wait and there's also DOA: X Beach Volleyball, for some reason the soundtrack just fit the game and every song was tolerable except for the Reel Big Fish. I shut that shit off FAST! Which is what I do with most games like this... after two or three courses, SSX3 was quickly reduced to just "mountain sounds" - much more fitting than listening to a bunch of offkey no-talents blunder their way through garage band sounding mess. Yuk. PS - sorry if I offended anyone. Just my two cents. :P

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Vice City has some fantastic 80s music.. unfortunately not including Foreigner/Autograph and other big haired, tight jean wearing twerps.

 

Music doesn't get any better than that performed by big haired, tight jean wearing dudes. :) I'm still hoping for another game with a hair metal soundtrack! yah! They could have loaded it up with alot of other music... I agree on the Soft Cell but would have also liked to have a "Dance" channel with like Pebbles, Taylor Dayne and so forth. For some reason I really liked that stuff during the 80s, and it makes me all warm and fuzzily nostalgic now.

 

I hope the next GTA takes place in the 70s with lots of disco and of course rock music! Deep Purple, Rush, Led Zeppelin, UFO, KISS, Rolling Stones, The Bee Gees... the possibilities are endless...

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Pebbles!! jeez i do remember her.. and Taffy, Tiffany, Spagna and many more strange named 80s female artists :) Have to admit i'm a fan of The Darkness, if you haven't got their album get it now you'll love it!!!

 

Back to soundtracks, IMHO Trent Reznor did an incredible job with Quake.. i was so hoping he would do Doom3 too.

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Reznor's Quake music is indeed brilliant, but its not really 'licensed' - he composed it specifically for the game. Which is fine, good and to be encouraged.

 

Wasn't Tiffany and all the rest too late for the game? I thought Vice City was set in 1984, which is the reason we escape Kylie and co.

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