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Best sound design and Audio in video games

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Posted · Original PosterOP

There's a couple of these types of forum posts around on the web, but none of them get more detailed than just stating a random games name. What's some of your favorite sound design or audio in video games and why? I also have a 5.1 setup, so I'm looking for the best surround sound mixing as well.

 

So I suppose I'll kick it off with my two favorite games for audio (as well as being damn decent games) are The Witcher 3 and Horizon Zero Dawn.

The Witcher 3, if you haven't played it, is meticulously crafted with it's audio. Every sound sample is high quality and distinct. The sound spatialization and the way the audio sources move around with speaker panning is near flawless, and audio sources fade in and out /very/ nicely between speakers. This is an issue for quite a lot of games. I can't tell you many times I walked into a building and the door closed behind me and I kept thinking someone had just come into my room. Riding Roach through forests of whistling trees with excellent ambiance, or seeing a fire in the distance, and hearing it fade in and move seamlessly beside you, then behind until it fades out is genuinely near perfect.

 

The only thing I can think of that would rival it would be Horizon Zero Dawn, and in fact I might like it slightly more. The ambiance I think is a bit clearer, and doesn't sound as "faked" as The Witchers. Especially the wind blowing through the trees, it sounds nice, but always just a little off... HZD has more layers to ambiance depending on your location, there's wind blowing, birds chirping, the absolutely incredible sounds from the machines, metallic and mechanical yet somehow organic. The rainstorms... are amazing in surround. slightly unfortunately (But I don't know how they'd avoid it really) you can tell that the rain is just a very high quality surround recording, or perhaps some damn good mixing, that's centered on the player. It's a /tiny/ gripe and I can't think of any way to get around it. I just want more.

The fights with the robots are full of bass notes so you get plenty of boom, the larger machines creating that kind of Jurassic Park thud with the footsteps. Everything feels real and visceral.

Combine the astounding sound recording and design with yet another basically perfect surround implementation and it's a true feast for the ears. Anyone who likes audio and has a PS4, I HIGHLY recommend it, since it's also a gorgeous game and relatively cheap now.

 

So what about you guys?

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Yeah, they did a pretty great job and I'm a avid forum member over there. The surround sound is also pretty decent, even as limited as it is with most of the game being one car at a time. The gravel hitting the underside and backfires from the rear surrounds is surprisingly effective.

Unfortunately this doesn't hold true for other racing games, and I'm particularly disappointed in Assetto Corsa.

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26 minutes ago, JZStudios said:

Why?

Great soundtrack 


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Biased as hell, but Team Fortress 2 has a very practical sound design; it makes things pretty easy to hear while not being overbearing and obnoxious and you can actually use it to your favor (looks at decloaking Spies all over)

Oh, and most of the sounds and the dialog are 16-bit 44.1kHz .wav files!


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Guitar hero. 

 

 

Jk um... hmm... metro has a lot of sounds for the environment & whatnot. Enemies react to reload sounds sometimes. Arma with mods can be pretty hectic with the quanitity if sounds. 

Edit csgo has a complex sound system in it. Rainbow six also has a lot to do with sound. 


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i like Bloodborne's sound design. maybe not as varied as the examples mentioned but it matches perfectly with the visceral combat, and the mystery and horror atmosphere. definitely the weapon sounds, all super cool to hear and never gets tiring 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
3 hours ago, Dan Castellaneta said:

Biased as hell, but Team Fortress 2 has a very practical sound design; it makes things pretty easy to hear while not being overbearing and obnoxious and you can actually use it to your favor (looks at decloaking Spies all over)

Oh, and most of the sounds and the dialog are 16-bit 44.1kHz .wav files!

Didn't know that about TF2, then again I also only played the game for maybe 3 hours tops before basically giving up on it. There's just way too much crap in that game. Might've also been before I got a decent set of speakers...

Pretty sure it's Source engine though, and Source has a fairly decent if basic and rudimentary surround implementation. Kind of funny actually that a lot of the older games have not just better surround support, but audio and spatialization as well. They seemed more focused on trying to push the audio boundaries than just assuming everyone has stereo or headphones at best.

3 hours ago, fpo said:

Guitar hero. 

 

 

Jk um... hmm... metro has a lot of sounds for the environment & whatnot. Enemies react to reload sounds sometimes. Arma with mods can be pretty hectic with the quanitity if sounds. 

Edit csgo has a complex sound system in it. Rainbow six also has a lot to do with sound. 

Mmm, Metro had some decent audio quality, nothing ever really blew me away about it though. I also lost interest in the game and have yet to beat... Last light? The sequel. The gunplay was just a bit weird to me. Don't think I've messed around with Arma on my new system, but I do like the fact that the audio engine takes physical properties into account, primarily the speed of sound, so you see explosions before you hear them which is pretty cool. Insurgency really amps up the action though, and with the Source engine it's got the decent surround implementation. You can also change RPG sounds to MGSV's WAAAAOOOOOOOHHHH! and Marv's scream from Home Alone. Which is guaranteed to make you $hit your pants when you're not expecting it.

2 hours ago, Techicolors said:

i like Bloodborne's sound design. maybe not as varied as the examples mentioned but it matches perfectly with the visceral combat, and the mystery and horror atmosphere. definitely the weapon sounds, all super cool to hear and never gets tiring 

Ah, haven't tried it yet. Or any of the Souls games... Bloodbourne seems the most polished of them all though.

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One of the best uses of sound I've experienced was in Eternal Darkness. The way the sound in that game worked freaked me the fuck out when I was younger.


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3 hours ago, fpo said:

Guitar hero.

You joke but it's actually pretty cool, all the songs are stored in their "broken down" format, so there's a completely separate track for drums, lead guitar, bass, etc. which, unless you're working in a studio for the band, is something you're otherwise likely to never get your hands on

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Posted · Original PosterOP
5 minutes ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

You joke but it's actually pretty cool, all the songs are stored in their "broken down" format, so there's a completely separate track for drums, lead guitar, bass, etc. which, unless you're working in a studio for the band, is something you're otherwise likely to never get your hands on

Is it? I seem to remember you kind of just played on top of the song, but that also would've been at least 6 years ago.

Rocksmith I've fiddled around with and YOU are the actual lead guitar, though they've also got options for rhythm guitar and bass too. Just wish it kind of worked a bit better.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
18 minutes ago, Volbet said:

One of the best uses of sound I've experienced was in Eternal Darkness. The way the sound in that game worked freaked me the fuck out when I was younger.

You think it still would if you went back and played it now? What did the audio do that freaked you out?

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Just now, JZStudios said:

Is it? I seem to remember you kind of just played on top of the song, but that also would've been at least 6 years ago.

Rocksmith I've fiddled around with and YOU are the actual lead guitar, though they've also got options for rhythm guitar and bass too. Just wish it kind of worked a bit better.

Yeah, believe me I've dug deeply into all the files :ph34r:  But even just playing you can tell that's how it works because you can adjust the volume of each track individually in game, and if you miss notes, yours drops out while the rest of the song keeps going, and the only way that could be done is with multiple tracks

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10 minutes ago, JZStudios said:

You think it still would if you went back and played it now? What did the audio do that freaked you out?

I don't know if it still would freak me out. I would have to get myself a GameCube to find out.

 

The audio, like everything else in the game, worked in conjunction with the game's Sanity Meter.

The lower your sanity the more the audio would fuck with you. Channels would switch, the audio would distort, sound effect would change and sound would play for no reason.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
17 minutes ago, Ryan_Vickers said:

Yeah, believe me I've dug deeply into all the files :ph34r:  But even just playing you can tell that's how it works because you can adjust the volume of each track individually in game, and if you miss notes, yours drops out while the rest of the song keeps going, and the only way that could be done is with multiple tracks

Well I knew the guitar track was separate. I mean, that's a neat factoid I suppose but not really that impressive. Rocksmith at least actually sort of teaches you guitar, and you get to hear what you actually sound like.

12 minutes ago, Volbet said:

I don't know if it still would freak me out. I would have to get myself a GameCube to find out.

 

The audio, like everything else in the game, worked in conjunction with the game's Sanity Meter.

The lower your sanity the more the audio would fuck with you. Channels would switch, the audio would distort, sound effect would change and sound would play for no reason.

I would say you could get... Dolphin I think was the Gamecube one... but Nintendo shut down Emuparadise, so there's that...

Which seems unfair that Nintendo could shut down a site when they host ROMs for Playstation, and titles that aren't owned by Nintendo.

Anyways, that sounds like some interesting mechanics. Hopefully it's better than the crushing eggshells used in Amnesia any time you're in darkness. I hated that.

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Just now, JZStudios said:

Well I knew the guitar track was separate. I mean, that's a neat factoid I suppose but not really that impressive. Rocksmith at least actually sort of teaches you guitar, and you get to hear what you actually sound like.

Well, it's not impressive, but it is very useful :D

And yeah, rocksmith was a great idea.  I think they missed the mark in some ways though.  Every other song seems to be slightly out of standard tuning, and rather than just adjusting the song to match A440, they make you detune your guitar to match the song.  Colossal inconvenience, totally kills the experience.  That and song selection (library size) will be a perpetual problem for any game like that.

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DOOM 2016 has god tier sound design, even though the soundtrack can be a little repetitive at times. Bioshock Infinite is also up there, the art design as a whole is amazing in that game.


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1 hour ago, Sauron said:

DOOM 2016 has god tier sound design, even though the soundtrack can be a little repetitive at times. Bioshock Infinite is also up there, the art design as a whole is amazing in that game.

when that robot dude speaks I get shivers at how good it sounds

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The OG Quake with the Trent Reznor soundtrack, just amazing, everything fits in that game, the theme, the enemies (and the sounds they make), the guns, just everything. Its even better in engine source ports like GLQuake and Quakespasm.

 

Also, Shadow of the Beast on the Amiga, although not an amazing game to be played, it was more of a tech demo for the Amiga, with artwork by Roger Dean and music composed by David Whittaker.

 


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8 hours ago, JZStudios said:

I would say you could get... Dolphin I think was the Gamecube one... but Nintendo shut down Emuparadise, so there's that...

Which seems unfair that Nintendo could shut down a site when they host ROMs for Playstation, and titles that aren't owned by Nintendo.

Anyways, that sounds like some interesting mechanics. Hopefully it's better than the crushing eggshells used in Amnesia any time you're in darkness. I hated that.

I don't really care for emulators. I like the actual console experience. 

Although, Eternal Darkness seems like the kind of game that would see a Virtual Console release at some point, so I might meet it half-way if that's the case. 

 

I can assure you that the Sanity system is better than the crunching leafs in Amnesia. That system is but a pale imitation:

 


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Audio format guides: Vinyl records | Cassette tapes

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