PC Gamer

Image by cuttingthebullet

PC games have produced some beloved music, but there's a tiny irony in the fact that the technological advantages that the PC held over other platforms in the 1990s have actually hindered a music scene from forming around that original work.

We had CD-ROM, hard drives, and discrete soundcards years before anyone else, and those advances pushed many studios toward not only full-motion video but elaborate, orchestral music rather than the chiptunes possible on the NES, SNES, and other sound palettes—a sound that has become a beloved aesthetic and genre in and of itself. Nintendo s (and even Sega s) platforms inspire a ton of affection, but there s still a lot of worthy professional and amateur PC gaming floating around the web.

Mines, Spelunky

Songe is an unbelievably talented multi-instrumentalist, mixing everything from flutes, drums, and ocarinas (when appropriate) to multiple guitars and piano, to his own vocal backing, like on his terrific takes on Warcraft II s Orc theme or the Skyrim Dragonborn theme. Among his dozens of tracks, his Spelunky Mines Medley stands out as a reverent interpretation of a song heard thousands of times by any dedicated Spelunker.

Performed by: Songe Original composer: Eirik Suhrke Buy on  Loudr.fm

Baba Yetu, Civilization IV

The only piece of game music to win a Grammy, this performance by a Los Angeles choir is my favorite among the many that have been recorded. Composer Christopher Tin was, interestingly enough, the roommate of Civilization IV lead designer Soren Johnson.

Performed by: Angel City Chorale Original composer: Christopher Tin Buy on  Amazon


This rock-metal cover of UNATCO (the organization of which Deus Ex s JC Denton is a member) was one of the favorite things I found online, mainly due to how restrained it is. So many of the metal covers of game music fall drift dangerously close to parody with over-applied kick pedaling and overlong guitar solos. Skilton keeps it simple here while producing an exciting take on what was a pretty sedate, austere tune originally.

Performed by: Tim Timofetus Skilton Original composer: Michiel van den Bos

FTL Theme Epic Rock cover, FTL: Faster Than Light

We really like Ben Prunty s stuff around here—so much so that we asked him to compose an original song for our podcast—so it s great to see an FTL track covered so well by Canadian guitarist James Mills. Give Mills System Shock 2, Hearthstone, StarCraft, and Dragon Age: Inquisition tracks a listen too.

Performed by: James Mills Original composer: Ben Prunty

I m Your Medic, Team Fortress 2

From the Weird Al genre we have this rap from Captain Spalding, a regular on the PC Gamer TF2 server circa 2008-2010.

Doom: The Dark Side of Phobos

Way back in 2005 OCRemix, the web's biggest game remix community, assembled a team (that included Super Meat Boy composer Danny Baranowsky) to produce a massive two-disc, 23-track tribute to Doom. The best way to get it is by downloading it through OCRemix's official torrent.

Performed by: various Original composer: Bobby Prince

Suicide Mission, Mass Effect 2

There s an insane amount of Mass Effect covers out there paying homage to Jack Wall (and others ) incredible work. Sadly, an uncomfortable amount of it is dubstep. Tim Skilton s take on the wonderful Suicide Mission theme isn t, thank goodness.

Performed by: Tim Timofetus Skilton Original composer: Jack Wall

Hunt or Be Hunted, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Tidwell is well known to fans of game music covers (you can find a lot of his stuff on Spotify), but he rarely covers songs from PC games.

Performed by: Daniel Tidwell Original composer: Marcin Przyby owicz Buy on iTunes

Super Meat Boy! - Choice Piano Cuts

Danny Baranowsky is absolutely prolific, having most recently composed for musical dungeon crawler Crypt of the Necrodancer. With his style of mixing modern composition with instrumentation from the 8- and 16-bit era, it s no surprise that Baranowsky got his start on OCRemix. Super Meat Boy remains his essential work and while the official Super Meat Boy album contains a bunch of covers, I love the official piano collection by Brent Kennedy, a 10-track set that can be had for $5.

Performed by: Brent Kennedy Original composer: Danny Baranowsky Buy on Bandcamp

"Act on Instinct," Command & Conquer

A list of PC gaming music wouldn't be complete without Frank Klepacki. Almost two decades after its release Red Alert's "Hell March" track gets the most play, but rather than recommending one of many, many takes on that boot-stomping classic, I think stuff like "Act on Instinct" represents Klepacki's grinding, industrial oeuvre much better.

Performed by: Tim Timofetus SkiltonOriginal composer: Frank Klepacki

X-COM: UFO Defense theme

You won t see X-COM getting a lot of recognition for its music in remixing communities, but this track from Fnotte manages to make something good out of the memorable intro sequence to UFO Defense.

Performed by: Fnotte Original composer: John Broomhall

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (RPS)

An entirely objective ranking of the 50 best PC RPGs ever released. Covering the entire history of computer role-playing games is a daunting task and attempting to place the best games in such a broad genre in any kind of order is even more daunting. Thankfully, we are equal to all tasks and below, you will find the best fifty PC RPGs of all time.

… [visit site to read more]

PC Gamer

We like cheap PC components and accessories. But you know what we like even more? Expensive PC components and accessories that are on sale! We ve partnered with the bargainmeisters at TechBargains to bring you a weekly list of the best component, accessory, and software sales for PC gamers.

Some highlights this week: Western Digital has a dual SSD/HDD for only $120 on newegg. Green Man Gaming and GamersGate are both having large New Year sales, and we have a code to bring Green Man Gaming's $5 games down another 22%. Lenovo's y40 laptops are a few hundred dollars off for each model. You can get a EVGA GTX 980 for $550 that comes with a free Ubisoft game or, if you are looking for a slightly more modest GPU upgrade, the MSI GTX 650Ti is all the way down to $60.

— The NZXT Technologies Kraken G10 Liquid Cooled GPU fan is only $9.99 on TigerDirect after a $10 rebate.

— The Ultra Gladiator Mid-Tower ATX case is $19.99 on TigerDirect after a $20 rebate and with the code BFG150772

— A stick of PNY Optima 4GB DDR3-1333Mhz RAM is $29.99 on TigerDirect after a $10 rebate and with the code OGW150793

— The Dell UltraSharp U2713HM 27in 1440p monitor is $521.99 on Dell s site with the code 78M4SHHJ4JC9WW

— The Lenovo Y40 14in laptop with an Intel i7-4510U CPU is $699 on Lenovo s site with the code DRBUSTER22

— The My Passport Ultra Anniversary Edition 1TB Portable hard drive is $59.99 on newegg with the code EMCAKAS26

— The Western Digital Black Dual Drive 2.5" 120GB SSD/1TB HDD kit is $119.99 on Newegg with the code ESCAKAS25

— The Kingston HyperX Fury 120GB SSD is $57.99 on Newegg.

— The EVGA 04G-2983-KR GeForce GTX 980 is $549.99 on Newegg after a $10 rebate and comes with a free game: Your choice between Assassin s creed: Unity, Far Cry 4, and The Crew.

— The ASUS R9290X-DC2OC-4GD5 Radeon R9 290X is $280.19 on Newegg after a $30 rebate and with the code EMCPWPW37

 The MSI N650Ti-1GD5/OCV4 GeForce GTX 650Ti is $59.99 on Newegg after a $30 rebate.

 Green Man Gaming is having a sale with a selection of EA games for $5, including Crysis 3, Mirror s Edge, The Command & Conquer Ultimate Collection, and more. You can take another 22% off with the code HAPPYN-EWYEAR-22OFFG

— GamersGate s End of Year Sale has massive price cuts on games from Square Enix, Deep Silver, Nordic Games, and more.

— FTL: Faster than Light is 75% off for only $2.50 on Steam. Another dollar will get you the soundtrack as well.

— Rock of Ages is 80% off, down to $2 on Steam all week.

For more tech deals, visit techbargains.com.

A note on affiliates: some of our stories, like this one, include affiliate links to online stores. These online stores share a small amount of revenue with us if you buy something through one of these links, which help support our work evaluating components and games.

Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 75% on FTL: Faster Than Light!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Wednesday at 10AM Pacific Time
Dec 19, 2014
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

how I feel RN

Hello there, best keep your distance, for I am ill. Not just ‘bit of a sniffle/put a bigger pullover on, you great ninny’ ill, but ‘noxious substances violently erupting from everywhere’ ill. My daughter started going to nursery about three months ago, and has been bringing back a delightful cocktail of viruses and bacteria ever since – it’s been a relentless assault on my immune system, and while I’m oddly proud of how long it stood against this microbial siege, it has now collapsed in gruesome style.

It’s OK, I don’t want your pity. Unless it’s a special magical form of pity that renders me instantly able to eat again. I want to talk about games.

… [visit site to read more]

Announcement - Valve
Today's Deal: Save 66% on FTL: Faster Than Light!*

Look for the deals each day on the front page of Steam. Or follow us on twitter or Facebook for instant notifications wherever you are!

*Offer ends Friday at 10AM Pacific Time
PC Gamer

Time to take a break from hyper-expensive, lavish games, and come back down to earth. No, further than that. We're going down under the earth, deep into a seemingly impenetrable nuclear bunker. Okay, we should be safe here. Except, do we have enough food? Are those air filtration systems on the blink? Oh gods, there's someone outside! Do we shoot them in the face?

These questions and more form the basis of Sheltered, a new project that combines FTL-like disaster management with a post-apocalyptic twist. It's on Kickstarter now.

For a look at the project, check out the developers' quick and to-the-point Kickstarter video.

The concept holds some fantastic potential for recreating apocalyptic despair. There's always a moment in such fictions, when the gnarled hero, while travelling the wasteland, comes across the tale of a family driven desperate by fear, paranoia and tragedy. It'll be nice to see their story for a change.

The developers are looking for 15,000 to make this project a reality, and still have 23 days to raise the remainder of that total.

For more info, check out the Sheltered Kickstarter page.

Thanks, Kotaku.
PC Gamer

Composer Ben Prunty created the soundtrack to FTL: Faster Than Light (and the new music in FTL: Advanced Edition). He worked on music for Gravity Ghost and StarCrawlers, too. He's also a PC gamer, which means he has to maintain both a music rig and a gaming rig two very different beasts. So I asked him to show us both setups, and tell us how he approaches PC gaming in the living room and what his favorite games are.

I also asked him to teach me how to play the banjo, but he didn't respond to that part.

What's in your PC?
Both my work PC and my gaming PC are custom built by me. I love building my own rig. The two machines have a lot of the same hardware, because I built them around the same time:

Motherboard Asus Sabertooth z77
CPU 3.4Ghz Intel Core i7
Heatsink Cooler Master Hyper 212 plus
HDD Two 1TB Seagate Barracudas
Memory 16Gb G.Skill Ripjaws X Series
Video Gaming rig: GeForce GTX560 (it's about time to upgrade!) Music rig: MSI Radeon HD 6570 (nothing fancy.)
Power Supply PC Power and Cooling Silencer Mk II
Case Gaming rig: Cooler Master HAF 912, Music Rig: Fractal Design R4. This case has foam padding to keep it quiet. Perfect for a studio environment.

The music rig has a Komplete Audio 6 audio interface hooked up to it, along with those big studio speakers and a Novation Launchkey 49 MIDI controller. For more information on my music hardware, check out my blog.

What's the most interesting part of your setup?
Possibly that I have two rigs! This helps keep work separated from play; it's very hard for me to get distracted when I'm in the studio. The PCs themselves are pretty straightforward. I have my gaming rig hooked up to my TV and stereo so I can switch to couch gaming seamlessly, which I take advantage of often.

What's on your desk?
My banjo picks and tuner tend to always be at my gaming desk. You never know when you're going to spontaneously play the banjo. You can see I have a couple Mario figures on my speakers, but in general I hate having stuff on my desk.

What are you playing right now?
Right now my time is divided between Titanfall, Nuclear Throne and the first Dark Souls. Life is good.

What's your favorite game and why?
My favorite PC game is possibly System Shock 2, though the original DOOM or Half-Life 2 is pretty close. System Shock 2 was just a mesmerizing and deep experience, filled with tough decisions and free form exploration. I think it has more in common with the classic Ultima Underworld than most people realize. Plus I just love space horror.

PC Gamer

FTL: Advanced Edition is free. The goodwill of that gesture to fans, to expand the hit space sim's feature set and narrative possibilities for nothing, is a neat way to get people talking about the game just as it emerges on iPad. For me, FTL has been a go-to game, something I've played every day for as long as I can remember. The additions to the combat feel generous, and certainly justify picking up the game again even if you've logged tens of hours with it previously.

The basic principle of crossing the game's eight sectors is unchanged. One nerdy tweak to the interface I quite like is a heavier use of symbols in dialogue boxes, so you're not always staring at white text on a beige background. But why am I talking about UI and not the new space combat bits, which are clearly the more interesting addition?

The biggest additions are the Clone Bay, Mind Control, Backup Battery and Hacking systems. Hacking mucks up one of the opponent ship's systems, Mind Control grants a temporary ally among the enemy crew and Backup Battery offers a finite power boost.

The Clone Bay is the one I'm most engaged with, a system that removes the Med Bay from your ship but replaces crew members who die in battle, providing the bay itself isn't damaged. I can't really work out if it makes FTL easier or not it certainly lowers the stakes in those scenarios where you send someone to a burning ship or dangerous planet, only to have them die, but it's a very small price to pay for something that considerably expands your tactical repertoire.

My proudest moment so far in using the Clone Bay came when three rooms in the middle part of my ship - including weapons - were on fire, and my remaining crew struggling to fight the flames. With their health bars on the blink and the Clone Bay itself about to be destroyed by the inferno, I opened all the airlocks, draining the atmosphere and consequently stopping the fire immediately. I purposefully murdered my entire crew as a strategic manoeuvre, but I minimised damage to the ship and 15 seconds later they started reappearing, minus their experience stats. Tactical firefighting.

This is just one way to use the Clone Bay. Clones also make it a lot easier to deal with enemies boarding your ship or you boarding theirs, since you can throw waves of less experienced crew at them without any long-term consequences. That kind of option makes the Advanced Edition an essential add-on to FTL for me, and there are still loads of possibilities I'm sure I haven't come across, roughly eleven games later.

Advanced completely opens up your strategic options by adding just a few features. I've only just got to grips with mind control, which temporarily turns one member of the enemy crew against the others. You can turn boarding soldiers against each other, or even have them help repair parts of your ship temporarily.

The changes aren't limited to the make-up of your ship, either - there's a conscious effort to expand FTL's fiction, as well. A new alien race comes in the form of the Lanius, who suck oxygen from wherever they're positioned and have their own type of starship. Their presence adds variety to the kinds of foes and potential crew mates you'll meet out there, which only helps when you've spent countless hours among engi and slugs.

Helping to mitigate repetition are the new story scenarios, thrown into the pot with the existing ones in Advanced. Obsidian's Chris Avellone has written some of them alongside narrative designer Tom Jubert, and when you've dealt with slaver ships and Tuco the pirate countless times before, having that fiction expanded makes FTL feel more complete.

Easy mode feels a bit softer now, too. Every time I do an easy run through I've breezed to the last sector in the Kestrel without taking more than half hull damage, and that's rarely avoiding conflict. With a newly added hard mode, it's tough to work out if Normal has changed or not discussing it with PC Gamer's Chris Thursten, he's found a couple of games to be fairly easy until he hits an enemy ship with a hacking drone, when the journey comes to abrupt end. I've had the same issue, and it seems to always come down to hacking drones putting you at an immediate disadvantage by targeting a vital room on your ship. They've got access to the same new toys as you, of course maybe this is just a balance check I have to be better prepared for.

Yet I'm pleased that almost two years on, FTL has given its fans a load more outcomes to be wary of as they crawl to sector eight. This is surely the best kind of expansion, one built without a business model in mind that only enhances the original game and rewards long-term players. With Subset Games having now created a basically definitive version of FTL, minus maybe a couple of possible tweaks in future, I can't wait to see what they move onto next.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

I’m a broken man today, having been up til nearly 2am playing the freebie ‘Advanced Edition’ expansion for impeccably clever/brutal space survival sim/strategy/RPG FTL: Faster Than Light last night, so I guess it’s safe to say the new features haven’t broken the old spell. I had worried the various new weapons, rooms and encounters would upset FTL’s simultaneously delicate and chaotic balancing act, but in four run-throughs (three failed, once successful #humblebrag) I haven’t felt its famed cruelty ever collapsed into either messy excess or over-complication. In one game, I lost because the enemy kept teleporting over a stream of invading clones. Another I won thanks to an excellent new weapon. All’s fair in love and murderous rebel space fleets.

Thoughts and a video (with commentary, or something approximating it) below. … [visit site to read more]


Search news
Oct   Sep   Aug   Jul   Jun   May  
Apr   Mar   Feb   Jan  
Archives By Year
2015   2014   2013   2012   2011  
2010   2009   2008   2007   2006  
2005   2004   2003   2002