The Best Video Game Soundtracks of the 2000s

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As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I love listening to music. My music library includes a mix of hip-hop, EDM, metal, and more. If I get bored of one genre, I switch to another. Plus there are always new singles, EPs, and albums that are released weekly.

One genre that I feel is often overlooked is video game music. More specifically, the soundtracks that accompany you during the gameplay and story. When I talk to my gamer (and non-gamer) friends about video game soundtracks, they think of theme songs from games like Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, or Tetris. I can’t blame them—they’re all fantastic!

HOWEVER…

*adjusts glasses*

…they are exactly what I mentioned. Theme songs to games, not full soundtracks. I want to dedicate this blog post to the best video game soundtracks from the 2000s era.

But first, a quick disclaimer. One, I have not played every game that was released during this time (Final Fantasy 9 to 13, Shadow of the Colossus, etc.). And two, these are simply MY FAVOURITE SOUNDTRACKS. Whether you agree or disagree with my list, I hope you leave with a greater appreciation for the composers and their music. The video games of today wouldn’t be the same without them!

In no particular order, let’s enjoy some amazing music together!

Halo Series

Ok, I’m a massive fanboy when it comes to the Halo games. But hear me out. Marty O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori have composed some of the best music you can find in gaming. The soundtracks from Halo 1, 2, 3, and ODST are timeless classics.

Halo: Combat Evolved kicks things off with the famous monk chant in the Opening Suite (which still gives me nostalgic shivers to this day). The soundtrack incorporates orchestra, guitar, percussion, and ambient themed tracks that synergize quite well with each other. A very authentic soundtrack!

Favourite Tracks:

  • Opening Suite
  • Truth and Reconciliation Suite
  • The Gun Pointed at the Head of the Universe
  • Rock Anthem For Saving The World
  • On A Pale Horse

Halo 2 Volume 1 stirs things up by focusing on rock and electronic music. Steve Vai as well as groups Breaking Benjamin and Incubus steal the show with their energetic tracks.

In a recent interview with The Act Man, Marty said there was some disagreement from Bungie (the game developers) about adding this type of music to the game. I feel it was the right choice. I would have never heard of Breaking Benjamin if it wasn’t for their hit track, Blow Me Away. Which I still listen to religiously!

Favourite Tracks:

  • Halo Theme Mjolnir Mix
  • Blow Me Away
  • Peril
  • Ghosts of Reach
  • Follow (1st Movement of the Odyssey)
  • Impend
  • Heavy Price Paid

If you enjoyed the Halo: Combat Evolved soundtrack, then Halo 2 (Volume 2) should feel right at home. In addition to new music, there are new renditions of familiar tracks that sound great. Once again, the orchestral and percussion sounds take center stage here.

Favourite Tracks:

  • Prologue
  • Mombasa Suite
  • Unyielding
  • Unforgotten
  • Delta Halo Suite

Halo 3 ends the trilogy on a high note (no pun intended). The soundtrack is filled with moments of calmness, excitement, and energy. Less guitar but more orchestral/electronic tracks on this one. There is never a dull moment!

Favourite Tracks:

  • Luck
  • Infiltrate
  • Last of the Brave
  • To Kill a Demon
  • Farthest Outpost
  • Behold a Pale Horse
  • One Final Effort
  • Never Forget
  • Finish the Fight

Lastly, Halo 3: ODST. During my first playthrough, I didn’t realize how beautiful the soundtrack was. There is nothing quite like it. It feels like something you would listen to on a rainy day; very moody, but in a relaxing way. A criminally underrated game and soundtrack!

Favourite Tracks:

  • Overture
  • More Than His Share
  • Deference for Darkness
  • The Menagerie
  • Neon Nights

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

One of my favourite RPGs ever. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has an extravagant soundtrack that keeps you intrigued with its world. Many of the orchestral tracks make you want to stop and take it all in. The plains, forests, mountains, cities, and interactions wouldn’t feel the same without Jeremy Soule’s score.

Favourite Tracks:

  • Through the Valleys
  • Harvest Dawn
  • King and Country
  • Watchman’s Ease
  • Auriel’s Ascension

Mirror’s Edge

Mirror’s Edge was my first experience listening to ambient music. Solar Fields has created an ensemble of tranquil and upbeat tracks that encourage you to stay in motion. It’s truly perfect for a game about parkour.

One track missing from the OST that I enjoyed from the game is Still Alive by Lisa Miskovsky; The main theme for the game. It’s bundled in a remix album you can find below.

Favourite Tracks:

  • Introduction
  • Edge Flight
  • Jacknife
  • Pirandello Kruger
  • Boat
  • Kate

Diablo 2

Diablo 2, my first multiplayer game! I have so many memories playing Diablo 2 on my family computer. The music, as well as the gameplay, is why I love this game so much. The ominous sounds from the guitar, flute, and drums fill your ears with moments of mystery and suspense. Matt Uelmen’s soundtrack is what made Diablo 2 a masterpiece. It gave the game life and a sense of atmosphere. Stay awhile and listen!

Favourite Tracks:

  • Wilderness
  • Rogue
  • Jungle
  • Toru
  • Sanctuary

World of Warcraft

After playing World of Warcraft for over 14 years, I can practically remember every track for each zone in Azeroth. Blizzard has always nailed the art and music for their video game franchises. With World of Warcraft, I think of every expansion as a new theme park ride.

Classic WoW has a mix of everything. From songs about war and exploration to songs catered to specific dungeons/raids. The Burning Crusade expansion is based on the Burning Legion and exploring the Outland. While Wrath of the Lich King is about exploring the continent of Northrend and defeating the armies of the scourge. Each soundtrack brings a unique orchestral style to the game. There’s definitely a track or two you’ll enjoy!

Favourite Tracks:

  • The Shaping of the World
  • A Call To Arms
  • Stormwind
  • Orgrimmar
  • Elwynn Forest
  • Stranglethorn Vale
  • Tanaris

Favourite Tracks:

  • The Sin’dorei
  • Azuremyst Isle
  • Silvermoon City
  • Outland Suite
  • The Gates of Ahn’Qiraj
  • Taverns
  • Lament of the Highborne

Favourite Tracks:

  • Arthas, My Son (Cinematic Intro)
  • Dalaran
  • Forged in Blood
  • Mountain of Thunder
  • Howling Fjord
  • Totems of the Grizzlemaw

Hitman Games

Jesper Kyd has composed music for some of the most popular video games out there. This includes the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, the Borderlands games, and many others. Though my favourite soundtracks from Jesper are his works on the Hitman games.

Hitman: Codename 47 soundtrack comprises of electronic, ambient, and instrumental sounds. While much different from the later games, I enjoy what Codename 47 offers with its music. Each location has a specific theme that does a fabulous job of immersing the player into Agent 47’s adventure. The tracks give you a feeling of suspense and allure when progressing from mission to mission. 

Favourite Tracks:

  • Main Title (Extended Version)
  • Jungle Exploration
  • Harbor Themes

Hitman 2: Silent Assassin builds upon the original game’s soundtrack by focusing on orchestral tracks with hints of electronic samples. This collection of music feels like something you would find in a blockbuster film—epic and powerful. The gameplay wouldn’t feel the same without it!

Favourite Tracks:

  • Hitman 2 Main Title
  • Action Begins
  • Japanese Snow Castle
  • Streets of India
  • 47 in St Petersburg
  • Trouble in Russia
  • H2 Exploration

Hitman: Contracts takes a detour into electronic/instrumental territory. There’s also a gloomy theme to some of the tracks. Which, in turn, contrasts perfectly with the in-game locales.  

Favourite Tracks:

  • Swat Team
  • Hong Kong Underground
  • Winter Night
  • 47 Detected
  • Budapest Bath Hotel
https://open.spotify.com/album/0SiUDINVt394gDbBeMIez2?si=H5KRQiwtThyWo8aW1GMN1Q

With Hitman: Blood Money, Jesper gathers the best elements from the previous games and creates something new for this soundtrack. The orchestral sounds return as well as more emphasis on electronic samples. I keep coming back to this one!

Favourite Tracks:

  • Apocalypse
  • Amb Zone
  • Vegas
  • Trouble In Vegas
  • Main Title

Grand Theft Auto Series

The radio stations found in Grand Theft Auto might be my favourite feature from the games. From hilarious commercials to excellent music, GTA has something for everyone. I know, not all the tracks are uniquely crafted for their games (though some are). Despite this, Rockstar Games seem to know best when it comes to choosing licensed music for their stories.  

GTA 3’s soundtrack contains music from the early 2000s. Genres include classical, reggae, trance, house, hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, and more.  

GTA: Vice City includes contemporary 1980s music from genres such as hip-hop, pop, disco, soul, funk, R&B, hard rock, and more. As my first GTA game, I loved browsing the radio stations and exploring what music people listen to during that time. It’s almost like a virtual time machine!

GTA: San Andreas is my personal favourite soundtrack (and game) from the series. It got me interested in hip-hop music as well as introduced me to some incredible artists. While most genres from the previous games are present, the West Coast hip-hop tracks are what make this game so iconic.

GTA 4 has a pretty decent soundtrack and slew radio stations. Most of the music is stuff you’d hear from the late 2000s and others from prior decades. However, my favourite track from the game has to be its theme song, Soviet Connection. I never wanted to leave the loading screen!

Half-Life 2

I love the soundtrack from the original Half-Life. The electronic samples and eerie sounds were fantastic when I first played it. Half-Life 2 has refined this even further. The energetic (and anxiety-inducing) tracks are consistent with that Gordan Freeman goes through in City 17.

Favourite Tracks:

  • Hazardous Environments
  • CP Violation
  • Apprehension and Evasion
  • LG Orbifold
  • You’re Not Supposed to Be Here
  • Tau-9
  • Something Secret Steers Us

Metroid Prime

When I was younger, I remember being so scared of this game that I struggled to finish it. Why? Because of the environments, creepy enemies, and especially the soundtrack. Metroid Prime’s music is very mysterious and alien-like. The production is an out-of-this-world experience with its moments of energy and peace. Here’s hoping Metroid Prime 4 can deliver a similar vibe.

Favourite Tracks:

  • Tallon Overworld Main Theme
  • Chozo Ruins Main Theme
  • Phendrana Drifts Main Theme
  • Tallon Overworld Depths
  • Sunken Frigate Main Theme

Deus Ex

Deus Ex is a classic RPG with a distinct soundtrack. The cyberpunk world comes to life with its use of techno, jazz, and classical instrumental samples. Additionally, the game used a dynamic music system that changed tracks depending on what the player was doing (combat, socializing, etc.). A very innovative feature for the time!

Favourite Tracks:

  • NYC Streets
  • UNATCO
  • Hong Kong Streets
  • Majestic 12 Laboratories
  • DuClare Chateau

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

I had to include at least one Zelda game on the list. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker was one of my favourite games on the Nintendo GameCube. Exploring the ocean and each island is a lot of fun thanks to the games great soundtrack. With its wide range of instrumentals, the music makes you feel like a sailor (or pirate) riding in the wind!

Favourite Tracks:

  • Dragon Roost Island
  • Forest Haven
  • Wind Temple
  • Earth Temple
  • Farewell, Hyrule King

Portal

Portal took over the video game community by storm with its creative level design, gameplay mechanics, and brilliant soundtrack. It has an ambient/electronic theme that, at times, makes you feel like you’re playing a horror game. There are moments of relaxation, isolation, and anxiety on this album. Still, I really enjoyed it!

Favourite Tracks:

  • Self-Esteem Fund
  • Party Escort
  • Android Hell
  • Stop What You Are Doing
  • No Cake for You

Midnight Club 3 DUB Edition Remix

There was a time during my childhood where all I could think of is cars and street racing (*cough* The Fast and the Furious *cough*). This fascination got me into the Midnight Club series with its third entry, DUB Edition. The game boasts a licenced hip-hop soundtrack with sprinkles of reggae, rock, pop, and more. Perfect for drifting your way past the competition. 

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1-4

I never cared much for sports games. But when it came to the Tony Hawk series, I had to play them! Their addicting gameplay and adrenaline-filled soundtracks kept me hooked for hours on end. I would have never had an appeal for rock, metal, and punk music at all if it weren’t for these games.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2

The Star Wars franchise has created some of the best music in entertainment history. KOTOR 1 and 2 are no exception. While many of the tracks are brief, they still utilize the magical orchestral themes present in the films. Jeremy Soule and Mark Griskey deliver an exciting experience with their atmospheric, thrilling, and emotional soundtracks. Each track feels like a story of its own!

Favourite Tracks:

  • The Old Republic
  • Taris Lower City
  • Bastila Shan
  • Ahto City
  • The Shadowlands
  • Darth Malak
  • The Unknown World
  • The Sith

Favourite Tracks:

  • The Sith Lords
  • Kreia
  • Valley of Dark Lords
  • Darth Nihilus
  • Trayus Crescent

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