Saturday, September 4, 2010

Roll Credits

You defeat the Big Bad at the of the game, sit through the stirring epilogue recounting your triumph, and then kick back as the credits roll. Then suddenly... the music playing in the credits jolts you out of your reverie. Why? Because it doesn't fit.

I recently saw a complaint about the "30 Seconds to Mars" track "War" which plays in the credits of Dragon Age. Now, I'm not going to get into an argument over the merits of the song or the band itself, because that gets into personal taste over music, and that's not the point of this post. Now, there are those who will say "it's in the credits, you can just skip it". That is entirely correct, but some people don't want to skip the credits. There's the desire to see the names roll past on the off chance you might have interacted with one of them, to watch concept art while thematic music plays, and I'm sure there are other reasons people have.  Unfortunately, this 30 Seconds to Mars song makes watching the credits a jarring experience.

I know you probably don't watch these. I frequently do.

The problem is that it doesn't fit musically with the rest of the game. Arguably, the lyrics fit from a thematic standpoint, but the song itself feels almost as out of place as if they'd had Marilyn Manson, just like they did in the promotional trailers. Now, I'm not saying that all credits music has to be exactly the same, and it doesn't necessarily need to be the same orchestral sound as throughout the rest of the game, although I'd probably argue that would have been the best fit for Dragon Age.

Other games have had songs in their credits that didn't feature in the game, but still match the overall tone of the game. M4 Part 2 by Faunts (Mass Effect) had a definite synth/sci-fi feel that meshed with the songs that were part of the game, Late Goodbye by Poets of the Fall (Max Payne 2) had a dark melancholy tone befitting the film noir style, Time Only Knows (Sands of Time) and I Still Love You (The Two Thrones) both had strong musical influences matching the rest of the soundtracks from their respective games.

The impact that can be made by something as seemingly trivial as the music used in the credits of a game is rather surprising. First and last impressions are curious things.

1 comment:

  1. A few examples stick out for me. Firstly the original "Mafia" game, which - after an amazing and emotional ending - follows it up with this awful hiphop track ( when a proper orchestral piece that revisited the game's theme would have been SO much more appropriate.

    I really adored the ending song for the Nod campaign in the original Command and Conquer, which is about as 'HELL YEA' as video game songs go. ( Used to load up an endgame save game just to listen to that song, all the time.

    And lastly Bioshock on the PC, which not only left out credits music from the endgame, but didn't even show you the credits after you finish the game. You go straight from ending sequence movie to the main menu in a jarring transition, when it was just crying out for a reflectful credits sequence in-between. The PS3 version got it *exactly* right; I don't know why they couldn't have done that on PC.