Minor Spoiler Alert: I will be discussing the VERY beginning of BioShock Infinite and will be talking about one of the first areas within the first 30 minutes of the game.
Having this play in the background will not only bring you back to one of the more subtly powerful moments in gaming, but will stress the impact that music has over each and every one of us. It can truly elevate games to a level they couldn't have hoped to reach before and make them a truly unforgettable experience. Personally, nothing showcases this more than this first scene from BioShock Infinite and the entirety of Fallout 3, thanks to Galaxy News Radio.
I think it's safe to say that many of you have been entranced by Columbia since the release of BioShock Infinite and will remember this song as the one you hear as you were welcomed into the city in the sky. It is such a stark contrast from the beginning of the game on that lighthouse island being assaulted by storms. It was a dark place filled with sorrow, and as soon as you are whisked away to Columbia you are brought into one of the most peaceful places imaginable. It is a church of sorts, full of water, candles and this song quietly echoing through the halls.
Now, I am not religious by any means, but it didn't matter. This scene just spoke to me, and it tempted me to just start the game over to experience it again. Walking slowly through this "church" and listening to this 1907 Christian Hymn, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?", just put me at such peace. I knew, in the back of my head, that this place was probably corrupt and would not be peaceful for much longer, but it didn't matter. Why should I worry about a debt or the mission at hand when I was at a place of such comfort? That's what music can accomplish! It kept me in a state of awe and didn't let go, and I was fine with that.
Sure, this may sound like a little much, but I'm trying to stress the fact that this one song encompassed so much for me and now it will always correlate to one of the most profound openings in gaming history. I won't go into any more detail of BioShock Infinite because it's a game that deserves to be played with as little knowledge as possible, but suffice to say, it only gets better from there. As always, first impressions mean a lot and this one knocked it out of the park.
Now, if it hasn't finished already, please pause the first video and click this one below.
It's time to travel with me to the Capital Wasteland.
Galaxy News Radio, hosted by everyone's favorite DJ, Three Dog, was perfect. There really is no other way to describe it. Walking through this desolate, horrific shell of what was once the pride and capital of the U.S.A., all while being serenaded by some of the greatest hits of the 1940s, made for one of the greatest dichotomies in any media. Being chased by a mutant trying to tear you limb from limb as Billie Holiday sang "Easy Living" was such a wonderful experience you couldn't get in many places.
Even when your next destination seemed miles away, walking and losing yourself in this pure and happy music made each and every journey enjoyable. I'm not sure how Bethesda did it, but they somehow chose songs that didn't get old, even after 100 or so hours. After the credits rolled and the secrets of Washington, D.C. were all revealed to me, I went on iTunes and proceeded to download these songs so I was always a few clicks from a great dose of nostalgia.
Music is a language unto itself. It tells stories and holds many secrets in its notes. These are just two examples of how games are using music to the fullest, which makes for an infinitely richer experience. There is some truly great music out there, especially in video games, you just have to stop, open your ears, and listen.
Which games have had the same impact on you? Do you agree with my choices and think these are worthy choices? Let me know! Maybe you'll introduce something great to someone who hadn't played YOUR favorite game!!
Adam Bankhurst is one of the co-hosts of The Gamer's Advocate. Send him all your thoughts or questions to email@example.com. You can also follow him @adambankhurst