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Most Anticipated Scores of 2012

Editorial Written by Site Staff

While we look back at this year's scores with the Annual Game Music Awards 2011, we also have numerous scores — from East and West — to look forward to in the New Year. In this special article, each member of the site's staff team reveal their most anticipated scores for 2012.

Chris' Choices

1) Soul Calibur V (Composer: Creative Intelligence Arts)

Soul Calibur V is the first full score produced by Hiroaki Yura's Creative Intelligence Arts. The return of sound director Junichi Nakatsuru and Eminence Symphony Orchestra is a sign that another high quality orchestral score is on its way. But more exciting are the other participants: Hiroki Kikuta, Andrew Aversa, Cris Velasco, and Tomoki Miyoshi, among others. Each is bound to bring plenty of novel ideas and ambitious tracks to the series, while asserting their characteristic sounds. It'll be fascinating to see the results of this unprecedented — and highly surprising — international collaboration.

2) Mass Effect 3 (Composer: Clint Mansell)

While 2012 will be another year jam-packed with high-profile sequels, it seems many developers have decided to throw musical continuity out of the window. A case in point is Mass Effect 3, which will mark the debut of another prolific film composer in the video game industry: Clint Mansell. If his innovative approaches to Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream are anything to go by, he's likely to breathe fresh air into Mass Effect 3. But by stepping into the shoes of Jack Wall, he's also bound to provoke mixed reaction among Mass Effect's fanbase.

3) Anarchy Reigns (Composer: Naoto Tanaka?)

Like MadWorld before it, Anarchy Reigns by highly talented developer PlatinumGames will feature a hip-hop soundtrack. Its predecessor was accessible and entertaining with its charismatic performances, moody rhythm tracks, and plenty of over-the-top lyrics. If Anarchy Reigns can continue this approach, it's bound to be a winner. And hopefully the choice of consoles this time round will result in much better sales...

Don's Choices

1) The Witch and the Hundred Cavalrymen (Composer: Tenpei Sato)

My most anticipated score for 2012 is for Nippon Ichi's PlayStation 3 action RPG Majo to Hyakkihei (The Witch and the Hundred Cavalry Men). Coming off the very successful soundtrack for Disgaea 4, which was a vast improvement over the previous game's score, Tenpei Sato has had a very busy year working on three Playstation 3 games and a Vita remake. I have particularly high hopes for this one. Featuring a darker atmosphere than normal Nippon Ichi games, I expect some very dark, beautiful tones, as well as some very lush soundscapes, as the game itself looks absolutely gorgeous. I've been told to expect some surprises as well.

2) Bravely Default: Flying Fairy (Composer: Unknown)

The few musical tidbits from the oddly titled Bravely Default: Flying Fairy sound absolutely spectacular. With no news on composers, lots of rumors are flying around. Square Enix has mentioned that the composers for the game can be described as "interesting people" and have never worked with Square Enix before. Either way, from what has been revealed in terms of music so far, it's definitely something to keep an eye out for.

3) Street Fighter x Tekken (Composer: Hideyuki Fukasawa)

I'm really excited for the Capcom/Namco crossover title being developed by Capcom. In recent years, Hideyuki Fukasawa has been the go-to composer for their fighting games, providing a very exhilarating Street Fighter IV soundtrack and the varied Marvel vs. Capcom 3 soundtrack, which I wish had gotten a soundtrack release. Fortunately, the collector's edition for the upcoming game features a two disc soundtrack, so I'm really excited to hear the original stage themes and Fukasawa's take on the character themes in the Tekken series.

Simon's Choices

1) BioShock Infinite (Composer: Garry Schyman?)

The first BioShock was a breath of fresh air, a daring mix of emotions and musical styles that still sounds unlike anything else out there. BioShock 2 saw Garry Schyman making some careful changes to the formula that were mostly successful and the result sometimes even surpassed the original. Providing he returns, it'll be fascinating to hear what musical tweaks Schyman will make to the world of BioShock on this new title and in what direction he will take the franchise.

2) Diablo III (Composer: Russell Brower, Laurence Juber)

2010's The Music of Diablo 15 Year Anniversary was a timely reminder of the excellent music this franchise has produced, covering both strongly atmospheric mood pieces on Diablo and majestic symphonic compositions on Diablo II. Series composer Matt Uelmen is no longer at the helm, but I'm sure Diablo III is in good hands with World of Warcraft veteran Russell Brower. And since 2011 failed to generate a first-rate high-fantasy Western game score (at least up to December), Diablo III will be awaited eagerly my many. Now let's hope Blizzard actually releases this in 2012...

3) NeverDead (Composer: Megadeth)

Okay, Megadeth's glory days have long passed, but they can still churn some blistering thrash metal songs — and you can never have to many of these in your game scores. And a game about a wisecracking, alcoholic demon hunter should be right up Dave Mustaine's occult alley. This might turn out to be one big self-parody of Megadeth's black magic-inspired 80s songs, or it could be awesome, head banging fun — or potentially both.

Marc's Choices

1) Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (Composer: Grant Kirkhope)

I've always been a huge, unabashed fan of Grant Kirkhope, ever since receiving my first CD, the soundtrack to his Banjo-Kazooie (thanks Best Buy!). That score saw him seamlessly meld a whimsical, silly score with deep, intelligent melodies and orchestration, resulting in what is to this day one of my favorite works. He's since gone on to show a more mature side with the Viva Pinata series, the scores to which blew everyone away. Now with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, we get his take on an adult, mature RPG, and I for one can't wait to see what he does with the concept.

2) Ragnarok Odyssey (Composer: Kumi Tanioka)

Kumi Tanioka's first major score since going freelance has got me excited. She proved her worth right out of the gate with her contributions to Chocobo's Mysterious Dungeon 2, and went on to deliver the astounding Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles soundtrack. Code Age Commanders was a disapointment to many, but it has always held a soft spot in my heart. After a couple fulfilling but not entirely exceptional portable scores, Ragnarok Odyssey's sounds like a winner, if the TGS trailer is anything to go by.

3) Final Fantasy Versus XIII (Composer: Yoko Shimomura)

Okay, fine, so it isn't yet planned to come out in 2012. Yoko Shimomura is also composing for Kingdom Hearts 3D, releasing early next year, but Final Fantasy Versus XIII will be her biggest score since the disappointing Kingdom Hearts II. Considering the tremendous roll she's been on since 2007's Heroes of Mana, and taking into account her short preview of Versus XIII's score included with her drammatica album, it will knock everyone's socks off, in the best possible way.

Leon's Choices

1) Phantasy Star Online 2 (Composer: Hideaki Kobayashi)

After great successes with the recent Phantasy Star Portable series of games, Wavemaster is well-prepared to score SEGA's return to the roots of the Phantasy Star Online experience, now new and improved after more than a decade. I'm, of course, expecting some great pieces from Phantasy Star luminary Hideaki Kobayashi, as well as intermittent material from Fumie Kumatani and Kenichi Tokoi, among others. The Phantasy Star games have always stood out thanks to their futuristic and complex interpretation of standard JRPG musical conventions, and they're always going to be set a great standard of progress, evolution, and refinement for the stalwart Wavemaster sound team.

2) Luigi's Mansion 2 (Composer: Kazuma Totaka?)

Luigi's Mansion 2 is no doubt going to be an interesting showcase of Nintendo's composers and arrangers, providing a delightful score — and a chance to try out new musical ideas in a less-familiar setting. While I expect that Kazumi Totaka will be making a return, it would be interesting to see more delegation of contributions from other Nintendo musicians, especially after stellar work by Asuka Ito on Pilotwings Resort and Hajime Wakai on Skyward World have provided great examples of what the sound team is capable of. Ultimately, I just want an excuse for these musicians to do something crazy and unexpected, following along with the shocking themes presented in a Luigi's Mansion game.

3) Starhawk (Composer: Christopher Lennertz)

While Chris Lennertz has contributed more extensively to film rather than game music in the past year, his upcoming score for Starhawk sounds promising and, if it turns out to be more than pleasant, would be a stellar breakthrough for the composer. Based on the composer's past record, Starhawk score should turn out to be well-orchestrated and exuberantly recorded, though only brief moments in the score have been heard thus far. Alas, it's still a wait-and-see effort, as great material also comes with bad moments as well, and consistency is something that can only be measured in a full release.

Matt's Choices

1) Dragon Quest X (Composer: Koichi Sugiyama)

Nothing drove home the lack of online play for the DS like the teaser MMO that was Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies, a great title full of everything that MMO players have come to love. Now with Dragon Quest X, Square Enix is bringing a true MMORPG to the Wii (!!!) and its successor, the WiiU. While another trip to the Dragon Quest universe is in and of itself enough to look forward to, the ability to hear Dragon Quest's music fleshed out is something any fan of the franchise will look forward to. With orchestral pieces that will (hopefully) cover the five playable races and broad range of zones one would expect from an MMO, this might be the score that will give the music of Dragon Quest into widespread international recognition. I'm really excited at seeing where the project will go with this.

2) Kid Icarus: Uprising (Composer: Unknown)

It's been 26 years since Nintendo touched the Kid Icarus title and all eyes will be on Pit's return in the unlikely 3DS saga. Will its success pave the way for new installments of other one-off titles from Nintendo's 8-bit infancy like Blaster Master? Who knows! And for that matter, who the heck knows who will be helming the music for Uprising? Masahiro Sakurai (the game's director) responded to an inquiry on the matter via Twitter by stating that the music would be composed by "...a composer who worked on Super Smash Brothers Brawl, which narrows the field down to 36 possible candidates, spanning everyone from Yoko Shimomura to Motoi Sakuraba to Toru Minegishi to Takahiro Nishi. Sakurai's phrasing suggests that just one composer will be involved, and if the epic music on the official site is any indication of what's to come, I look forward to seeing who it is.

3) South Park: The Game (Composer: Unknown)

This one can go literally anywhere. Given the odd musical tastes of Parker and Stone, and their willingness to provide the vocals for their various projects, one could expect this to be an exceptionally silly, satirical soundtrack. Yet with everything that's been released about the game, including its traditional RPG elements (class-based combat, a "materia" system) and its apparent similarities to Paper Mario, they could surprise us all by releasing a traditional, JRPG-inspired soundtrack with a bit of whimsy, vulgarity, and satire thrown in for good measure.

Harris' Choices

1) Far Cry 3 (Composer: Brian Tyler)

The moment I first heard Marc Canham's soundtrack for Far Cry 2, I was totally mesmerized by how authentic it was. The artist understood how to incorporate the soul and heart of African landscape, making for a very innovative and fresh listening experience. The next game in the series will be scored by Brian Tyler and I'm a huge fan of his movie scores, especially Fast Five and Eagle Eye. I remain just as hopeful that he will guide us through a similar journey, while adding in a bit of his personal style. Fingers crossed that the African vocals and a realistic mercenary story will return.

2) Silent Hill: Downpour (Composer: Daniel Licht)

Silent Hill is my number one game series ever. I have played through each and every one of the games, including those for arcades and mobile devices. One thing that really connected all these were the ambience and music. I think we can all agree that Akira Yamaoka actually innovated a lot in psy-horror scoring. With his music, he has had us shivering, feeling for the characters, and even crying for them with emotional songs such as "Room of Angel". Silent Hill: Downpour replaces Yamaoka, who has now departed Konami, with Daniel Licht, composer of the excellent Dexter scores. After listening to the sample theme he posted, I am more confident than ever that Licht will deliver. The other good news is that the beautiful vocalist and singer Mary Elizabeth McGlynn will return to mesmerize us with her songs once again.

3) Hitman: Absolution (Composer: Peter Peter, Peter Kyed)

The Hitman series is finally being revived during 2012, but Jesper Kyd — responsible for the amazing scores for the previous four games — seemingly won't return. Instead he is replaced by Peter Peter and Peter Kyed from the Kane & Lynch series. Despite this decision, I am really looking forward to the soundtrack because of the high pitched brass motifs I heard in the demo gameplay. Ever since Inception, these loud brass motifs have become kind of a style. Many people might be tired of them, but I believe this idea is still fresh and gives a blockbuster sound.

Ben's Choices

1) Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance (Composer: Yoko Shimomura)

Shimomura has given the Kingdom Hearts series a distinctive sound that perfectly matches its Disney meets Square Enix aesthetic, with the jaunty lightheartedness of the former and the more dramatic and introspective elements of the latter in a perfect balance. Shimomura's style has proven versatile enough to accommodate the diverse demands of the series' many worlds.

2) BioShock Infinite (Composer: Garry Schyman?)

The BioShock series has contained some of the best Western video game scores, certainly in recent memory, as Schyman eschews the Zimmer/Remote Control Productions sound for tantalizing blend of lyrical cinematic cues and Penderecki-inspired avant-garde techniques. Add to that high quality instrumental performance, and the series comes out ahead in a field that's often terribly derivative.

3) Lollipop Chainsaw (Composer: Akira Yamaoka)

With his first major project for Grasshopper Manufacture, Shadows of the Damned, Yamaoka worked comfortably within his established Silent Hill style. The trailer for Lollipop Chainsaw simply featured a cover of the 1958 song "Lollipop", but Yamaoka is certainly talented enough to surprise us with his score for this hack-and-slasher starring a cheerleader and a bunch of zombies. It's a project right up Suda51's alley, and Yamaoka's as well.

George's Choices

1) The Last Guardian (Composer: Kow Otani?)

The Last Guardian has been in development for a long time, but hopefully this will inspire plenty of interesting ideas for the music and sound design. Many anticipate that Kow Otani will score it, and create another groundbreaking score like Shadow of the Colossus. We'll just have to wait and see whether this will be the case, but either way we're in for a special score.

2) BioShock Infinite (Composer: Garry Schyman?)

Another vote for BioShock: Infinite. Why? Because this series features some of the most complex and mature music ever heard in a video game. Ditto what Ben and Simon said.

3) DmC (Composer: Unknown)

While the third and fourth Devil May Cry games featured generally average, mostly cinematic-based music, the first and second featured some of the coolest and most creative soundtracks that I have heard in a video game. I am totally hoping for a return to that style merged with the new, twisted and punk-ish world of this new game's design.

Joe's Choices

1) Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (Composer: Joe Hisaishi)

Joe Hisaishi's soundtrack for the DS version of Ni no Kuni became my new all time favourite video game soundtrack this year, and I haven't even played the game yet (I wish Level 5 would localise it). Although a lot of the music in this PS3 version of the game is the same as what's used in the DS version, there are some new arrangements of existing pieces and new tracks to look forward to when the game is released internationally next year. Hopefully we'll get a new soundtrack release as well, I'd really like to hear some of these new arrangements and originals and maybe even some of Rei Kondoh's additional music. Either way, a game being made by Level 5 and Studio Ghibli and featuring music by Joe Hisaishi is not a game to be dismissed very easily.

2) The Last Guardian (Composer: Kow Otani?)

Team Ico have gained a loyal cult following over the years with just two games, both of which are very different in their gameplay and their music, and both are regarded by fans as two of the greatest games and soundtracks ever created. The Last Guardian looks set to change things around once again with a focus on a developing friendship between a boy and an incredibly unique creature. I'm really looking forward to hearing what whoever composes the music for this game comes up with, and I honestly don't know what to expect. Musical themes that convey friendship and bravery perhaps, and just like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, I'm guessing the music will be used sparingly so that when it does come in, it's an incredible moment. The first few trailers for the game used Carter Burwell's theme from the film Miller's Crossing, and it'll be interesting to see whether the music in the game is influenced by Burwell's music, or maybe even if Burwell himself actually ends up composing the music (who knows!) Either way, it'll all be very different from the atmospheric Ico and the epic Shadow of the Colossus, and I can't wait to hear the music and experience the game for myself.

3) Journey (Composer: Austin Wintory)

This game, from Flower developer Thatgamecompany, is so intriguing. I've really grown to love this minimalist, atmospheric style of game and music, of which there's been some incredible achievements recently thanks to a comeback of smaller, more independent game creators. A lot of the music of these games has been fantastic and Journey might follow suit. The short cello and flute solo piece that plays in the trailer is a great listen, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how the game, and the rest of composer Austin Wintory's music for the game, plays out.