You don’t have to follow my blog too long before you realize I’m a little of a gaming nut. Always have been since the days of my good old Commodore 64. But other than the aimless escapism that comes with games, I have the lofty ideal that computer games can be a strong medium for storytelling. I’m certainly not the only one to think this, and as the end of the decade storms on, it would seem that games are coming more of age, and developing to the point where people are seeing their potential as story vehicles.
But this is about game music, rather than game stories.
Morrowind was released in 2002, and was lauded with the same laurels that Dragon Age is getting these days. Set in a distinct and unique fantasy realm, the player had run of the land involving himself in what he (or she) felt like, with its relatively open ended RP.
For me, Morrowind bought back the excitement of exploration. And what sights you could see too, with full weather effects and beautiful vistas at every turn.
But what helped made Morrowind as powerful an experience as it was had as much to do with its soundtrack as its visuals. Morrowind’s sweeping and epic score complimented every part of the game, and was one of the first soundtracks that really stuck with me as a gamer.
I come from a long background of gaming music favorites, but older games could only shine on one track. They really only had the space and money to establish the feel on one strong track. Morrowind had a whole score. And sure, by 2002 plenty of other games had scores aplenty (LucasArts games had always had very strong scores), but Morrowind is the one that leaped out at me with its orchestral and professional score.
Jeremy Soule already had a strong list of game compositions under his belt by the time he did Morrowind, and since then has been involved in some fairly heavy weight games. He also went on to score Oblivion, the sequel to Morrowind, with the same epic orchestral power as he did here.
I’m sure that there are plenty of objections to why this soundtrack should win out over hundreds of other great game scores, but one has to stand for one score over another eventually. Any challengers to the title though, feel free to mention them!
Also, check out this honorable mention from Ultima, circa 1988. Well, a replaying of it on a mandolin.