So I just finished playing Portal 2… Wow! I have to say, it was everything I wanted it to be and more. I wanted it to be essentially the same mechanics, the same dark, dry comedy, the same awesome lateral thinking puzzles, but with extra new stuff like the Propulsion Gel and the Excursion Funnels I’d seen in trailers. What I didn’t expect was some of the best audio I’ve heard in a long time!
If you haven’t played Portal 2, do it. Now! Seriously though, on my Sound Design MSc course we quite often discussed the difference between sound design and music and where the line sometimes gets blurred. I also talked about the functional use of sound design and music in games in my academic thesis and explained the difficulty with using the term diegetic in game audio analysis. This presents a fine example.
When you use the Excursion Funnels and Hard Light Bridges you can hear this strange but calming electronic music eminating from them and when you use the Aerial Faith Plates, you hear percussive beats getting louder the higher you get then fading off as you reach the ground. This procedural soundtrack not only makes the music more interesting an open ended but it serves as the actual sound of the object in question almost giving it an audio icon type function. As well as this, the actual background music triggers at important parts of the game in the same way many game soundtracks do, but the procedurally generated tunes from each of the game elements fits perfectly in with the background music playing at the time….