Bioshock is a good game. It's not great, and I don't think it deserves some of the high 90s scores it's been getting. I might post later about some of the gripes I had.
What is great about it, though, is the soundtrack. The game is set in the '60s, underwater, in a city that's been slowly growing derilect since the 1959 New Year celebrations. It's peppered with licensed tracks from the 30s and 40s, played through phonographs scattered throughout the levels. Really, nothing quite describes the feeling of fragging a splicer with a steam-punk grenade launcher, to the strains of Reinhardt's 'La Mer' (known in English as 'Beyond the Sea', but a version by violin and two-fingered guitar). Here is an almost comprehensive list of tracks:
- The Andrews Sisters - Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen
- Billie Holiday - God Bless the Child
- Billie Holiday - Night and Day
- Bing Crosby - Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
- Bing Crosby - Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
- Bobby Darin - Beyond the Sea
- Cole Porter - You're the Top
- Django Reinhardt - It Had to Be You
- Django Reinhardt - Jitterbug Waltz
- Django Reinhardt - La Mer
- Django Reinhardt - Liza
- The Ink Spots - If I Didn't Care
- The Ink Spots - The Best Things in Life are Free
- Mario Lanza - Oh, Danny Boy
- Noel Coward - 20th Century Blues
- Noel Coward - The Party's Over
- Patti Page - How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?
- Perry Como - Papa Loves Mambo
- Rosemary Clooney - It's Bad For Me
- Tchaikovsky - Waltz of the Flowers
You can extract these files from the game, if you're technical - the tools to look for are fsbext and MusicPlayerEx, plus your favourite encoder. Or, because they're almost all public domain in New Zealand, just copy them off a friend. The only track I've been able to confirm as still under copyright is Bobby Darin's 'Beyond the Sea', which leaves copyright at the end of 2009.
Along with these licensed tracks, there's also original music, composed by Garry Schyman. It, too, is very, very good. A bit of musique concrete with a bosun whistle here, a bit of Ligeti's Atmospheres there. 2K Games have released these original tracks (calling it the 'orchestral score'), and it's free to download.
Combine the original tracks and the licensed (public domain) ones, and you'll have a comprehensive soundtrack to the game. Which is more than can be said for those poor fools who bought the collector's edition of the game and got a crappy EP of four remixed tracks, one of which was remixed by Moby.