With a wide variety of exceptionally good, fitting music pieces, it is not hard to see why Xenoblade Chronicles' soundtrack is at the top of many RPGamers' hearts in 2012. Though few in number, composer Yoko Shimomura's contributions are also some of the best in the game. "Main Theme" starts off with a beautiful, somber piano piece, which soon escalates into a powerful and sweeping sound accompanied by strings. The criminally underused "Unfinished Battle" is highly energetic with an exquisite escalating piano section near the end.
Though lesser know, the other two major contributors to Xenoblade's soundtrack, Manami Kiyota and the three-person group ACE+ are no slouches. Kiyota is arguably the weakest of the composers, but she does have a few outstanding tracks. "Sator, Phosphorescent Land/ Night" is a remarkable, etheral piece that suites the Satoral Marsh area. Xenoblade's usage of alternate versions of the same track for day and night is done especially well here. The event/battle theme "Xanthe" is a contender for one of the best pieces in the game. It begins with haunting ominous chanting, then after a minute erupts with a heart-pounding guitar riff and even more vocals. As for ACE+, they use a wide variety of music styles in their compositions. "Confrontation with the Enemy," with its usage of rock and dramatic vocals, is an excellent build up to boss encounters. "Field of the Machinae" is a very different, though still excellent, track, that begins with a mysterious atmosphere then quickly develops into a more upbeat electronic piece. And it is nearly impossible to listen to "Gaur Plains" without getting it stuck in your head.
Despite the number of composers that contributed to Xenoblade's soundtrack, the music never feels disjointed and the variety is very welcome. Many pieces are fantastic even by themselves, but as with any good soundtrack, they truly bring Xenoblade's world to life.
Nobuo Uematsu: the man, the myth, the legend. Known far and wide for his work on the Final Fantasy series, this full-time composer and part-time bouzouki player has contributed a lot to the way we approach music in RPGs. Were it not for this man, the music we hear accompanied with our favourite story-driven games today would likely be background noise instead of the added thematic layer that we now treat it as. The Last Story benefits greatly from his involvement and approach to musical storytelling. Zealís tale is one of great uncertainty as well as action, with the accompanying audio design enhancing both. Battles feature unique scores that almost make you want to slow down to enjoy them, and Toberu mono is easily one of Uematsuís most heartfelt compositions. If you haven't downloaded this title's OST, you should.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 has an interesting soundtrack to put it mildly. It doesn't approach the eclectic mix of styles from something like Crystal Bearers' soundtrack, but thanks to many vocal, electronic, and purely orchestral arrangements the soundtrack manages almost an otherworldly feel that fits the game perfectly. The shear number of tracks also means there's different music in practically every area, so there's nothing to get sick of. Many thought there would be a musical void when Uematsu was no longer in charge of the series' music, but thankfully that is proving not to be the case.
by Cassandra Ramos, Trent Seely, Michael Apps