I love the soundtrack of Team Fortress 2. Absolutely adore it. My favourite tracks are by far Rocket Jump Waltz (which has been my alarm tone on my phone for about 2 years now) and It Hates Me So Much, from Expiration Date… I was about to say the recent 15 minute video, then I remembered just how long ago that update was. Wow. Music is a big part of every video game and if it wasn’t for the loud, extravagant orchestra-like soundtrack, TF2’s promotional content wouldn’t have nearly as much Ooomph. Every time you open up the game, there’s a blast of music which bounces up to greet you like a dog after you’ve just got home from work. Other soundtracks I really enjoy are The Binding of Isaac AND The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. Both are amazingly good and despite not really playing Rebirth, I’m actually kinda excited about the Afterbirth DLC, if only because it’ll give my BOI-fan-boy friends something new to show me. Anyway, back to Team Fortress 2, with its glorious introductory main menu.
But once that main menu music ends, the rest of the game seems rather… devoid of music.
You look at Valve’s other games, they all mostly have music. Dota 2 has loads of background music, from the menu to the champion select screen to orchestrated songs unlocked by pouring all your money into the Compendium. Valve’s single-player games all have deep soundtracks to really drive home the meaning of it all. The only games that seem to lack memorable music are those of the Counter-Strike series, but they’ve always had a far different tone, worrying more about the individual skill of players rather than striving to be new and different. Plus you don’t really want an orchestra blaring until you’ve gone and killed the enemy team.
Left 4 Dead though uses music in a slightly different way. It’s mostly used to create that nice, zombie atmosphere, but the music is also used as sound cues. People with keen ears know what’s ahead because they hear the music. Special infected, incoming hordes and ‘crescendo events’ all give you some sort of musical warning and each special infected pretty much has its own theme tune. Then there’s that small clip when you first hear a witch. It’s not just the crying that makes you aware of her. Sadly, as good as the music cues are, they didn’t help in L4D2, which really should have been a DLC or something. Plus, the multitude of daytime levels makes it far less scary.
Team Fortress 2 though seems to only keep its music in small chunks. The majority of full tracks are only heard on the loading screen or on the wiki or Youtube, and even then we have a habit of skipping them. Chunks are heard in videos, official or otherwise. In-game though, we don’t hear much of anything at all. Go into an empty server and all you’ll hear is the buzzing of computers and the groaning of machinery. It’s still wonderful, being alone on these maps, but it’s so… desolate. Mann VS Machine is actually a pleasant change, as you get the ever building music before each round, but that fades away into the sound of robots (or you) being destroyed.
The exceptions to this are Conga and the Kazotsky Kick, but these loop round and most are too busy killing the offending taunters to care.
It’s a shame really, because it’s such good music and so few people listen to the entirety of it.