Gaming's top five best licensed soundtracks

By Ural Garrett , Updated Jun 09, 2013 08:14 PM EDT

Nothing makes a game sonically become more alive than a game's soundtrack. While original musical compositions can serve its own purpose in bring out emotion, licensed soundtracks can connect gamers to the familiar and make a game seem more grounded in reality. These games listed below excelled at creating an amazing soundscape with some of music's greatest artists. 

Tony Hawk's Underground 

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series always did a fine job of perfectly mixing rock and hip-hop into its soundtrack as players skated in various locations. As the series turned more into an open world landscape in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4, Tony Hawk's Underground turned things up a notch by focusing on a solid (and occasionally funny) storyline about an up-and-coming skater trying to reach the pros. Making things more believable was a soundtrack that composed of mainly underground artists like Jurassic 5, Aceyalone, Mastodon and the Adicts. Even a few mainstream artists like Nas and Queens of the Stone Age were peppered in. 

Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure 

Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure wasn't all that well received but, it was a solid game that took elements from Prince of Persia and Jet Set Radio. Thematically, it is one of the few games to perfectly get the culture, sound and lifestyle of traditional Hip-Hop. It also serves has having one of the best original licensed Hip-Hop soundtracks in gaming history. In fact, most of the soundtrack is made up of many of the tracks used in the classic(and must see) early 80s documentary Wildstyle. Pharoahe Monch, Mobb Deep, a Serji Tankian remix of Biggie's "Who Shot Ya" and more round out the soundtrack. 

Indigo Prophecy 

Before Quantic Dream created Heavy Rain and the upcoming Beyond: Two Souls, the French developer's breakout hit was Indigo Prophecy (or Fahrenheit outside of the North America). Though the Playstation 2 and Xbox game featured original soundtrack from Angelo Badalamenti, there were also some extremely mature choices for licensed music. Mature doesn't mean frequent profanity and sexual themes also. Old soul and blues tracks from Nina Simone, Teddy Pendergrass and Ben E. King emotionally fit scenes when needed. 

Brütal Legend 

It's no secret that Brütal Legend features the most robust heavy metal soundtrack in the history of game and film with over 107 tracks. At times, Brütal felt like a history lesson in the rock sub genre at times.  The way some of these tracks play into some of the missions are simply genius in execution.

Grand Theft Auto Vice City

In essence, Grand Theft Auto Vice City could be considered historical fiction. Though Vice City was an 80s fictionalized version of Cocaine Cowboys era Miami, the soundtrack was set in reality.  Every genre of that era is superbly represented thanks to the series iconic radio stations. Some of the era's greatest artists are included including A Flock of Seagulls, Motley Crue, Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross and Blondie. 

Have a favorite licensed soundtrack? Comment below. 

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