Various Artists

Spike Video Game Awards Hits, Vol. 1: Best of Video Game Music

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Spike Video Game Awards Hits, Vol. 1: Best of Video Game Music's title is somewhat misleading: you won't find instantly memorable, classic video game music like the theme from Pac-Man, or anything from Akira Yamaoka's brilliant, terrifying Silent Hill scores here. Instead, it's a collection of punk-pop, rap, and electronica songs that have been licensed to some of 2004's top games (which, of course, ties in nicely with Spike TV's Video Game Awards). On those terms, it's a decent, if somewhat predictable collection, featuring hits like blink-182's "Feeling This" and Bonecrusher's "Never Scared," both of which appear in Madden 2004, as well as David Banner's "Crank It Up" and Benzino's "Rock the Party," both from Fight Night 2004. Most of the songs here were hits before they appeared in these games -- which is probably why they were selected in the first place -- but aside from sharing an aggro immediacy, many of the tracks don't really evoke much of the spirit of the games that they represent here. Still, there are a few fitting matches and surprises: Andrew W.K.'s "Tear It Up" works well as a part of Nascar Thunder 2004's musical backdrop; ditto for Mystikal's "Smashing the Gas (Get Faster)" placement on Need for Speed Underground. Likewise, the Pixies' "Wave of Mutiliation" and a remix of Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation" are pleasantly unexpected additions to Wakeboarding Unleashed and EyeToy: Groove, respectively. Though there are a few things to quibble about -- the focus on sports games almost to the exclusion of other types of video games, and the lack of any original game music mixed in with the licensed songs -- this is far from a bad collection. It might not have the eclecticism of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas' sprawling soundtrack or the quirky personality of Katamari Damacy's whimsical J-pop, but for gamers in need of a musical quick fix, it'll do.

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