It's been a lot of fun cataloguing and recognizing the best video game music of the year. We've gone from AAA blockbusters to indie games, sweeping melodies to ambient synths, heroic themes to dread-soaked atmospherics. Some of the games built music into their gameworlds, while others brought in full orchestras and still others used the kazoo as a stand-in for the protagonist.
Readers wrote in a whole bunch of worthy Readers' Choice nominations, and between those games and the thirteen that we highlighted, I'd say we came up with a list that is damn near definitive.
In order of publication date, here are the best video game soundtracks of 2011.
I figured I'd like the L.A. Noire soundtrack before I even heard it-here we had noir-style detective game set in the late 1940s, and so you just knew it was going to feature a bunch of great jazz. More »
Sucker Punch made a very interesting, very good choice in choosing to set their follow up to inFamous in a fictional recreation of post-disaster New Orleans. More »
Portal 2 comes in near the top of a lot of critics' "Best of 2011" lists-it was a joyously brainy, well-written and brilliantly designed puzzle game. More »
As a game, LittleBigPlanet 2 was all about motion and physics. It was a Rube Goldbergian dream diorama, a series of flipping levers, bouncing springs, swinging doorways and tumbling blocks. More »
Total War: Shogun 2 may look and sound for all the world like the latest in a long line of reasonably bland strategy strategy games. As most grand strategy games are. More »
Believe it or not, Skyrim was not necessarily a shoo-in for our list of the best video game music of 2011. Epic first-person open world games can get into murky territory with their music, especially if the music plays too often. More »
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is perhaps the most compelling argument yet for "Video Game as Concert Piece." As a game, it is a smartly designed interlocking series of puzzles, an ever-more-complex world filled with hidden secrets and challenging combat that unfolds with a uniquely Zelda-y... More »
Despite the fact that many folks have been playing Minecraft since the fall of 2010, I'm counting it as a 2011 game. After all, 2011 was the year that it saw a full retail release, and it was also the year that I finally sat down and really played it.
It was also the year I fell in love with its... More »
Listen: the first thing you need to know about the music in the newest Rayman game is that it's got some kickass virtuoso kazoo playing.
Yes, kazoo. More »
Bastion snuck up on me-I had heard a lot of friends and fellow critics hyping it after seeing it at PAX East and GDC, but I didn't actually play it until it was released. More »
And so we come to the end of our "Best Game Music of 2011" series, where tradition dictates we crown a victor. I'm only half-serious, of course; it's all but impossible to say what the best anything is, and that's doubly true of something as ephemeral and subjective as music. More »
We've already recognized a whole bunch of the best game soundtracks of 2011. But of course, there are only so many hours in the day-only so much time to play games, and one can only write about so many game soundtracks.
Fortunately, you guys were up to the task of nominating outstanding... More »