Kirk has already highlighted the soundtrack from last year's Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but I think it's worth reiterating just how amazing one particular track was.
I first heard "Icarus," Michael McCann's main theme from Human Revolution, when it was revealed for the game's E3 trailer. It fit the trailer so well, making the dramatic moments even more dramatic, and emphasising the dire situation in the fictional future it portrayed. I knew it had to be made available as an mp3 sooner or later, and lo and behold the overwhelming fan reaction to the piece left Square Enix with no other choice but to offer it. And they offered it for free. What gracious gents.
I threw it on my iPod and instantly knew it'd make the cut for my "repeat" playlist. I like to tire the hell out of my favourite tracks, and my making playlist for all the songs I like to put on repeat helps me to do so.
It's appropriate that "Icarus" is the main theme for Human Revolution, because it could fit literally every moment I remember playing — viewing a sprawling city and towering corporate buildings, punching through walls with unique arm augmentations, or piling up dead bodies for fun. "Icarus" adds a sense of intensity that was the final sell on the atmosphere and experience that Eidos Montreal had created.
But the other part of what makes "Icarus" a favourite track of mine is that it still exists as a great song outside of the medium it was born into. It's a song I can appreciate regardless of whether or not it's being played along with the orange and black scheme of one of my favourite games from last year.
It starts slow, separate beats playing on top of each other, before slowly adding in a female's voice that feels like what a "modernized" opera singer would sound like. It reminds me of the singing in the Gladiator soundtrack, and emulates a similar vaguely ethnic feel.
As her voice grows songer, so too does the music. It doesn't just get louder, though. Each tone is strengthened and layered. When I listen to it, I always catch myself drifting off into some awesome daydream where I'm wielding a katana with ninja-like skills, kicking arse (of course), and intermittently transitioning to slow motion (because why not).
I love music for that. It inspires playful thoughts, and lets me get lost in them. And when that daydream is a badass vision like the one that "Icarus" inspires? All the better.