Something old and something new graces the top ranks of 2008's best music category. Some music made a grand return with a completely new sound and both main composers in our top three brought their games a more modern feel.
One of the first things some people will say when they see that we gave Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII first place in the music category will be "but it's all recycled music from Final Fantasy VII." My reply to those people is that they couldn't be further from the truth. Only a small handful of the game's fifty-five tracks have been used before, and even those have been given new life by up-and-coming composer Takeharu Ishimoto's guitar sounds.
The new FFVII arrangements are good, but they aren't even the best of this game's soundtrack. The combat themes are all an upbeat mix of rock and techno, with many outstanding original pieces. Also noteworthy are Crisis Core's most mysterious sounding tracks such as "Melody of Resolution," "The Gloomy Mansion," and "The Burdened". Each has an mystical feel to them. This title's flowing melodies, as heard during "A Moment of Courtesy," "Sky-Blue Eyes," and "Duty and Friendship," are truly masterful. But what really makes the Crisis Core soundtrack stand out is the blending of calm, peaceful music that builds into something with a rock edge to it as found in "The Price of Freedom" and the ending theme "Why" by Japanese singer Ayaka. All of these grand original pieces mixed with the fresh rearrangements from Final Fantasy VII make Crisis Core our top pick for music in 2008.
The music in The World Ends With You truly immerses the player in Shibuya, Tokyo, like no other soundtrack could have. The different styles mesh together well under the direction and composition of Takeharu Ishimoto. The battle tracks do a great job of renewing the action, as some pieces will urge the players to fight for their lives. The pieces used while walking through the busy district are sometimes energetic and jovial, sometimes slower and smoother, setting the tone for each scene. The soundtrack is divided between the three parts of the game, so you rarely feel like you're hearing the same pieces over and over again. Contrary to most RPG soundtracks, The World Ends With You's musical score is comprised of J-pop, rock, and rap as opposed to strictly instrumental and orchestrated pieces. Music is an important part of the game and The World End With You's soundtrack is at the forefront of the best of the year.
Shoji Meguro is back at it again, delivering another powerful offering for Persona 4. This soundtrack offers some wonderful pieces that assist this game's mysterious setting and hopeful themes. From the eerie piano theme played during cryptic scenes to the techno TV world theme, the soundtrack is extremely diverse, but quite fitting throughout. Not only does the soundtrack stand out as being fantastic, but the voice acting in Persona 4 is top notch. Most everyone sounds completely natural and the cast meshes well together.
by Maxime Viventi, Michael Cunningham