Video Games Live Level 3 Review

  • Name: Video Games Live Level 3
  • Label: Mystical Stone Entertainment
  • Composer(s): Various (produced by Tommy Tallarico)
  • Number of Tracks: 15

Video Games Live Level 3 started off as a Kickstarter project by veteran games music composer, Tommy Tallarico late last year. On 13 September 2013, $285,081 was successfully raised which was over $35,000 above its goal and after a relatively short period of time (at least with respect to other Kickstarter projects I've backed), backers received their digital album a couple of weeks ago. As I was a Kickstarter backer for the project there's obviously a part of me that really wants to like this soundtrack and legitimise my spending money on it. So that's something to take in mind when reading this review. I also find that albums with a compilation of video game tunes can be a tricky job, since you're trying to pick the themes that your audience would like to hear. Unfortunately, in my case being a PC gamer and one that doesn't always play the most popular games, meant there were only a few tracks on this album that really resonated with me.

The highlights on the album for me were The Secret of Monkey Island, Skyrim's Dragonborn theme and Street Fighter II. The Secret of Monkey Island track is basically very similar to what you hear at the beginning of Curse of Monkey Island:

but without Guybrush's monologue by Dominic Armato or the sound of cannons firing as LeChuck attacks Elaine Marley's fortress (as heard in the above video). It's pretty awesome and stands up there besides the recent take on the theme for the HD remake, as one of my favourite versions of the theme.

The Dragonborn theme from Skyrim is done very well and while I like it, it's probably on par with the source material (although the adding of "FUS RO DAH!" in the song is a nice touch). Oh and the Street Fighter II theme is basically dominated by Guile's Theme at the beginning (need I say more?). There's a rockin' guitar solo for Guile's theme that would make any 80s rock band nod their heads in approval.

As I mentioned before, usually mileage varies with these video game compilation soundtracks mainly because you tend to only like the tracks that are familiar to you. There is an exception to this rule with respect to Silent Hill 2's Theme of Laura (yes I too wonder why they didn't just call it Laura's Theme). I've only played a few minutes of the original Silent Hill but not the second but the blues rock sound, I dig it. So Theme of Laura turns out to be a surprise favourite even though I normally don't touch console or horror games.

The rest of the soundtrack has some pretty good orchestral renditions of popular games such as Final Fantasy, Zelda, Tetris, World of Warcraft, Pokemon and DOTA 2 - but while they're done exceptionally well, I don't really feel anything when listening to them. The worst track on this album though has to be the live version of Still Alive. While it's great to hear the enthusiasm of the Chilean crowd in this track, the audio quality is quite low and perhaps a studio version would've been better such as the a capella version of it I heard on the "Bonus Round" CD I received as a backer (which incidentally has some great music by Andrew and Jillian Aversa on it.

Score - 6/10

Unfortunately, despite a majority of the tracks being of exceptional quality (bar one), there aren't enough tracks in this album that entice me to hit that repeat button. Highlights for me are the renditions of The Secret of Monkey Island, Skyrim, Street Fighter II and Silent Hill 2. If you're into Nintendo or more popular games though, this album might hit the sweet spot.

[ LINK: Official Video Games Live website]