Medal of Honor: Underground Soundtrack (PS1), Michael Giacchino, 2000
Medal of Honor strove hard to create a first-person shooter experience that left an impression on players beyond the mere satisfaction of shooting bad guys before they could shoot you. However, the fact that the game progressed the FPS genre in terms of subject matter wasn’t its most revolutionary aspect. Instead, that particular achievement would have been the wide-spread critical recognition of game music’s quality outside of the gaming community. Michael Giacchino‘s Medal of Honor score fashioned itself on John Williams’ action scoring of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Astonishingly, it matched the elevated standards that come with such role models. As a result, bloggers, film score collectors and music fans in general – many for the first time – took note of the music produced for a video game.
Even more than Medal of Honor, Underground aims for historical authenticity (and thus reverence). Its main character Manon Baptiste is based on real-life French resistance fighter Hélène Deschamp Adams – who also served as a consultant on Underground. These efforts highlight the game designers’ increasing ambition to enrich action-driven gameplay through the retelling of one individual’s personal story. As a consequence, the Medal of Honor: Underground soundtrack shows greater interest than Medal of Honor in illuminating its protagonist’s psyche.