When I was younger I used to play the original Sid Meier Civilization game. I never beat the game and by the time my opponent crushed me with their nuclear weapons, I was just learning about the wheel. I would give up in a huff and stomp off, only for a few days later to return to the game with a renewed vigour.
Yeah I never could beat the game.
Cut to more then a decade later and one of the first games I bought for my new gaming system is Civilization V and as of this writing, I am around 75 hours into the game on my 5th run through. I do admit that for the first few days of playing the game I would spend upwards of 12 hours on the game. I was so addicted to that game that my friends were worried for me.
To me, what is one of the best parts of the game is the music. Each nation has its own unique music playing in the background with instruments from their homeland. It gives the game a feeling of authenticity and honestly the composers for the game seem to have been inspired from a few sources. When I was in discussion with one of the leaders I heard a song that seemed oddly familiar. It took a while but then I realized that what I was hearing was reminiscent of Illusion of Gaia.
Geoff Knorr and Michael Curran were the two composers who worked on the game and to me their work is the highlight of the game. During the game when your nation is at peace the music is more laid back while when your nation starts fighting, the music ramps up and has a more hostile element to it. However, the music is not one of heroics but more sympathetic. If you are fighting off Boer War era mounted horseback and Riflemen units with Desert Storm era tanks and bombers the war theme can seem like you are nothing more then a bully, while if you were the primitive forces against a more advanced force, the song seems like one of futility.
Composers Curran and Knorr did a great job in using music to play with the players conscience. By playing as a warlord who crushes all foes under your heel, you would be hearing the song more often and more often the people of the world would begin to become hostile towards you. If you are playing on harder difficulties, the victories soon become Pyrrhic as the player starts losing more resources then he is gaining. It becomes interesting when the Warlord has all this power, but is unable to use it effectively against their opponent.
Easily my favourite of these is Rokudan no Shirabe, the theme for Oda Nobunaga and Japan. The song reminds me of a classic Samurai film with the heavy use of classic Japanese stringed instruments and flutes. It is a very peaceful, almost relaxing song. The serenity of the song is almost a perfect way to calm down the more brutal players hellbent on crushing their opponents.
Both Curran and Knorr did a wonderful job on the album. Through their music, they made the country and its leaders become real. It made you realize that your actions on the world has consequences.