Nine Legitimately Awesome Video Game Soundtracks

The case for 'Halo,' 'Final Fantasy' and seven more scores

The main 'Halo' theme is a fusion of Gregorian chant, strings and percussion.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
October 4, 2013 4:00 PM ET

Of all the things that make a great video game, there's no understating the importance of a well-crafted soundtrack. Whether simple 8-bit compositions or full orchestral arrangements, video game music can help create mood and even enhance gameplay. Here are nine of the best examples in gaming history.

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9. Halo (2001)
The music of Halo has evolved since the series first began in 2001, but it remains consistently stirring and the perfect accompaniment for Master Chief's ongoing adventures. The game's main theme, which is a fusion of Gregorian chant, strings and percussion, still gets us in the mood for battling the Covenant alien alliance. Anybody see where we put our Needler?

8. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (1997)
Michiru Yamane, a former staff composer at Konami, is responsible for the music in dozens of games, including Nemisis and Suikoden. But the soundtrack for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is without a doubt her best work. It's theatrical, grandiose and, above all, creepy. To put it another way, it's totally right for a game where Dracula's son is the protagonist.

7. Portal (2007)
Most of the soundtrack for Portal consists of ambient electronic music, but it really shines during the closing credits, when a song called "Still Alive" is sung by GLaDOS, the game's homicidal artificial intelligence. The track became so popular that it later appeared as a downloadable track in the Rock Band franchise.  Plus, it answers one of the most burning questions in gaming: Is the cake really a lie?

6. Final Fantasy VII (1997)
Final Fantasy VII was a high water mark because of its compelling characters, story, graphics, game play and, of course, music, which was composed – like all 14 entries in the series – by Nobuo Uematsu. From the lilting main theme to the martial music that plays during each battle, the soundtrack captures all the emotional highs and lows of the game. But many gamers remember "Aerith's Theme" the best, a melancholy tune that plays after the character's shocking murder.

5. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (2013)
Some hardcore fans balked at the series' departure from stealth elements, but as an action game, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is undeniably awesome. The pummeling techno-rock soundtrack, which was composed by Jamie Christopherson (Lost Planet, The Golden Compass), adds an additional level of propulsive energy to the game's frenetic hack-and-slash action.

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