When i started this blog, I made a promise not to promote major mainstream bands and only focus on the more well known and indie Video Game Soundtracks. Well today I may be breaking my rule because I will be comparing the radio stations of Vice City and San Andreas. I am aware that they play mainstream music, but with these two games, the music is not important. It is strictly background. It is stuff you hear on the radio. The music helps set the mood for the game.
That being said, what I will be doing is not comparing the music themselves, but the Radio Stations themselves as they provide the most entertainment. Yeah driving along Vice Beach with I Ran by A Flock of Seagulls is nice and atmospheric, but listening to Wil Wheaton get high on crack so he could be part of a sting operation by the Los Santos Police is where the real charm lies.
One of my favourite things about the Grand Theft Auto series is the radio personalities. When you are travelling the city in the real world, you either are listening to the radio or music on your car stereo. It helps alleviate the boredom of driving from point A to point B. The same can be said for the GTA series as you are usually spending a decent portion of the time in a car trying to get from one place or another. Rockstar knew that when driving, having a radio station is important as it immerses you into the world.
In Vice City, it was Rockstar's first time using licensed songs and they chose well. There is a huge variety of music available to the listener and each station has one or two DJ's who insult each other or the audience. But even after 30+ hours in the world, you didn't feel as if there was any progress because there was no variation in what anyone said on the radio.
With San Andreas, they redid their selection of music and made more choice selections. The song's they featured, while not important to the story itself, had more of an impact on the game's environment. The snarky DJ's had their humour tuned for more topical events which reflected on the world. Events would be referred to in news broadcasts and they even changed up the music selection the further you got in the game. After the game when you are finishing up side missions or just hunting for Easter eggs, the news reports the events of the final mission.
When comparing the radio stations from the two games, you have to remember that they are trying to emulate that particular time period. In Vice City, Rockstar was going for the era of indulgence and greed. Where in the criminal underworld, people were trying to become the next Tony Montana. In San Andreas however, they were going for the rise of the LA street gangs. The music of Vice City is represented by bands such as A Flock of Seagulls, The Buggles and Quiet Riot while with San Andreas they featured artists like 2Pac and N.W.A., who at the time were still relatively unknown and part of the underground hip hop and rap circuit.
As much as I love the music of the 80's, I am going to have to say that San Andreas has the better soundtrack. It better reflects the era of the game and gives the world more life. I love the Glam, but San Andreas did their soundtrack better and I felt for more connected to the world of San Andreas then to the world of Vice City.
This is Daimo Mac and I am lost in the music.