Unfortunately many of the composers of these extraordinary soundtracks go unnoticed because they aren't "Pop" music that gets played on the public radio stations. Well thanks to AOL Radio and other sites that broadcast music online there is a way to listen to many of these incredible scores without having to actually purchase them. Of course, I hope that after listening to some of these songs that you'll be interested in supporting these composers by purchasing the soundtrack or their specific releases.
To help people with suggestions, I will provide a top 10 list of MY favorite soundtracks to search for and give a listen to. After the list I will also provide some other notable soundtracks that are great as well, just not on my favorites' list.
10. SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS
Orchestrated by Kow Otani, music was only used during the battles with each colossus and during the cut scenes. The rest of the game contained no music while the protagonist traveled the land searching for the next colossus. In 2005, Electronic Gaming Monthly awarded the soundtrack as soundtrack of the year.
9. SILENT HILL 2
The amazingly eery music for this soundtrack was composed by Akira Yamaoka. He is well known for his contributions for many of the Silent Hill soundtracks as he is the sound director and producer of the soundtracks for the entire game series.
8. CASTLEVANIA: LAMENT OF INNOCENCE
Michiru Yamane has become famous for her music in many of the Castlevania games, but according to ratings on AOL Radio, Lament of Innocence is the best in the series. This soundtrack has an eclectic mix of styles that range from dance beats to classical music, and is perfect for the spooky atmosphere of this Castlevania game.
7. HALO 2
The actual score was composed by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatore, but volume 1 of the soundtrack contains all new music written and performed by popular rock bands such as Breaking Benjamin and Incubus.
6. THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: THE WIND WAKER
Kenta Nagata, Hajime Wakai, Toru Minegishi, and Koji Kondo collaborated for this soundtrack. They used pan flutes and uilleann pipes in many of the songs throughout the score, and several of the songs are used again in Super Smash Brothers' Brawl. Several of the songs in the soundtrack are also influenced from past Zelda music and the fuse together quite nicely.
5. METAL GEAR SOLID 3: SNAKE EATER
How can this list be complete without MGS3?? This soundtrack consists of 2 discs and contains music from various artists. Harry Gregson Williams, Norihiko Hibino, Cynthia Harrell, TAPPY, and Starsailor collaborated on this OST for a mixture of orchestral, chorus, and techno beats. This soundtrack is an example of how atmospheric music can make a great game Excellent.
4. KINGDOM HEARTS 2
This one is a crowd pleaser. While the majority of this OST was composed by Yoko Shimomura, the main theme song, "Passion," was performed by Hikaru Utada. The music in the opening and closing of the game was performed by Kaoru Wada and the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.
3. DONKEY KONG COUNTRY 2
No, I'm not joking. This soundtrack is one of those rare oddities that you don't realize how great it is until well after the fact. This was composed by David Wise and Stephen Hurst, and has been well reviewed with raves for it's "majestic" and "serious" sounds.
2. MODERN WARFARE 2
I know, I know the game isn't even 6 months old. But my reason for this soundtrack being so high on my list -------- HANS ZIMMER. Infinity Ward pulled out all the cards for this game. Hans Zimmer has been making and producing soundtracks for movies forever. He's multi-talented and has won numerous Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and Grammy Awards for his soundtracks. Many of his works are memorable for integrating electronic music with traditional orchestral arrangements.
1. FINAL FANTASY 7
Yes, I'm a fanboy. This game is the one that started it all for me. I'm ashamed to admit that this is the first Final Fantasy game that I ever played. After playing this game I got hooked and have played every one since. This OST spanned FOUR discs, and was the first in the game series to include a track with digitized vocals. Many Final Fantasy fans consider this soundtrack to be Nobuo Uematsu's greatest musical achievement.
~~~Notable mentions. Here's a small list of other game soundtracks that I find very great, and would definitely make the list if I did a top 20.
Metal Gear Solid 4
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Little Big Planet
Halo 3: ODST
Final Fantasy 9