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GameSpot Video Games, PC, Wii, PlayStation 2, GameCube, PSP, DS, GBA, PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Best Original Music

Though music in a game can be an easy thing to discount, a well-orchestrated theme can turn an enjoyable moment into a truly memorable one. The visuals tend to take the credit for the most up-front impact, but it's those tense strings as you open a door to face the unknown, or the opening notes of a familiar theme, that send the chills right up your spine. They're the icing on the cake. Despite the preponderance of licensed music in games today, there are some moods that can't be set with an off-the-shelf pop song and instead require a specifically crafted piece of music. And so, here are our finalists for Best Original Music.

God of War

Developer: SCEA
Platform: PlayStation 2
ESRB: Mature
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God of War's orchestral music puts you smack in the middle of ancient Athens; just make sure you duck when you hear the timpani.

Indigo Prophecy

Developer: Quantic Dream
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC
ESRB: Mature
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Indigo Prophecy's original music helps to set the stage for this moody story-driven game, with its beautiful and haunting minimalistic melodies.

Perfect Dark Zero

Developer: Rare Ltd.
Platform: Xbox 360
ESRB: Mature

Filled with a great variety of dance and rock rhythms, Perfect Dark Zero's soundtrack is at least as fast-paced, upbeat, and exciting as the action itself.

Psychonauts

Developer: Double Fine Productions
Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation 2, PC
ESRB: Teen

The music is wonderfully suited to each specific environment and blends perfectly into the ambience of the level, and considering the level variety, that's a noteworthy feat indeed.

Shadow of the Colossus

Developer: SCEI
Platform: PlayStation 2
ESRB: Teen
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The orchestral score does an impressive job of effectively conveying the mood of the massive colossi with a great swell in the score that perfectly enhances the tension and excitement of the battle.

And the winner is... God of War
Platform: PlayStation 2
ESRB: Mature

God of War's music boasts no fewer than five different composers, and yet the game still manages to provide a cohesive soundtrack assembled with the same care and precision you would expect from an Oscar-caliber movie like Gladiator. The power of God of War's music is that in every moment, from the softer ballads to the epic main theme, the quality is consistent and is above and beyond anything we've heard in video games this year. While many other aspects of God of War's gameplay contribute to the overall presentation, the music leaves an indelible impression because it is so appropriate, so thematic, and so good.

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