The 2009 Listen Up Awards!

The announcement of the 2009 Nodies will show the best of 2009’s gaming landscape had to offer, but there was only one award for sound (Best Audio going to Uncharted 2: Among Thieves). There was a lot to talk about as far as sound in gaming was concerned in the past year, and I, GamerNode’s resident sound dude, would hate to see all of that conversation go to waste. So, here now are the 2009 Listen Up Awards!

First Off: Best in Environmental Sound!

Best Environmental Sound Effects
Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

The chatter on the radios. Gunfire coming from every direction. Bombs blowing up in the distance. Civilian screams echoing off of the walls of an Russian airport. Every mission in Modern Warfare 2 is a dramatic battle made only better by everythign you hear while going through them. Infinity Ward does an incredible job of capturing what war really is, down to every last detail. It’s one thing to be part of the epic battle, it’s entirely another to hear the battle going on as you approach the battlefield. Even the infamous "No Russian" mission is enhanced by the frantic, helpless screams of those thoughtlessly killed by terrorists. While other games this year included great environmental sound, it’s hard to argue against Modern Warfare 2 as the best of the best for 2009.
HONORABLE MENTION: Uncharted 2, Assassin’s Creed II

Next, the best of voice in 2009, from the lines that made us laugh to the actors who spoke them!

Best One-Liner


Nathan Drake "I swear to God, if there’s a zombie around the next corner…" in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Not many games can produce laugh-out-loud moments with one quick line, but Uncharted 2 churns them out with almost no effort. This one takes the cake, though, as it not only shows the humor of this game, but it also pokes fun at games in general. This situation has happened countless times before in other games; hell, Resident Evil thrives off of them, so for another game to take a cheeky potshot is a great and funny surprise. The multitude of great one-liners is a testament to the brilliant writing in Uncharted 2, but this line shines above the rest.
HONORABLE MENTION: "It’s a-me, Mario!" from Assassin’s Creed II

Best Dialogue


Ezio Gets Owned By His Mother In Assassin’s Creed II (skip to 2:16)

Assassin’s Creed II, like Uncharted 2, is blessed with fantastic script-writing and voice acting. While there are many great back-and-forth exchanges from the characters, this one is the one I always find myself coming back to. It starts simple enough, a pleasant conversation between mother and son. All of a sudden, Maria throws a quick line in that catches Ezio off-guard, rendering him speechless. It’s not so much the line itself that makes the moment, it’s the person uttering it. If Ezio’s brother or one of the thieves were to say it to him, I don’t think it would have been as effective. Couple that with the fact that it’s one of the last times you hear Maria speak (the events of the game render her mute from shock), and it becomes even more potent. This is truly the most memorable exchange of any game I played in 2009.
HONORABLE MENTION: Eddie and Magnus in Brutal Legend

Best Script and Voice Acting
Uncharted 2

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

In what may have been the closest contest in years, Uncharted 2 barely edges out Assassin’s Creed II and Brutal Legend as the best overall script of 2009. The other two games had a couple of memorable lines, but it seemed like every other word out of one of the Uncharted characters made me chuckle. Perhaps this can be attributed to great voice-acting, but the people behind the voices made the script come alive in a movie-caliber way. Would you imagine Scar from The Lion King as anyone but Jeremy Irons? How about Mario as anyone but Charles Martinet (or, the argument can be made, Capt. Lou Albano)? Well, in the same vein, I can’t imagine Uncharted 2 without Nolan North, Claudia Black, and the rest of the cast. Uncharted 2 has set the standard for script-writing and voice acting, a feat made even more impressive considering the other great examples from this year
HONORABLE MENTION: Assassin’s Creed II, Brutal Legend

Best Male Voice Actor
Nolan North

Nolan North

This may have been the hardest category to choose. Mark Hamill as The Joker in Arkham Asylum was indescribably good. I know that the first time I heard his voice, I found myself going back to being 10 years old, watching the Batman cartoon on the WB. However, there’s one thing that pushes Nolan North over the top: he was the lead voice in TWO of the biggest games of the year. Everyone associates North with Nathan Drake in Uncharted 2, but they all forget about his just-as-excellent performance as Desmond Miles in Assassin’s Creed II. North takes both roles (which are VERY DIFFERENT PEOPLE, by the way) and creates a voice that fits the characters who’s talking like a glove: the mischievious and confident remarks of Nate, and the uneasy, stuck-in-the-middle questions of Desmond. It’s hard to go against Mark Hamill, but at the end of the day, North wins for taking two of the year’s main protagonists and making them real.

Best Female Voice Actor
Emily Rose

Emily Rose as Elena Fisher in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

I don’t know that Nathan Drake is as believable as a character if he doesn’t have Elena Fisher. He’s a brash, confident treasure hunter, but without the attractive female from his past, he seems too perfect to be real. Of course, Elena is only enhanced by Emily Rose’s excellent voice work. I found myself relating a whole lot more to Elena than I did Chloe Frazier, due partly to the fact that Elena’s voice sounded so much more natural to her character. If an Uncharted movie ever comes to fruition, Emily is the onyl member of the voice cast that I could see playing the character on the live-action screen. And, if nothing else, this is certainly the best looking of the Listen Up Awards, eh?
HONORABLE MENTION: Claudia Black as Chloe Frazier in Uncharted 2, Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn in Batman: Arkham Asylum

Finally, the Music Awards!

Song of the Year


Assassin’s Creed II – Earth

This song gave me shivers the first time I heard it. Right in the beginning, as Ezio and his brother climb the rooftops of Florence, first you hear the guitar, then the drums, and then the entire melody comes into focus. Jesper Kyd outdid himself with this track, as it sets the entire story in motion. Not much more can be said about it, just play the track over and over again and there’s no way you won’t understand.
HONORABLE MENTION: Suikoden Tierkreis – The Shining Castle of Dying Wishes, inFAMOUS – The Truth

Composer of the Year


Greg Edmonson for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

This category made me glad I chose to ask my fellow GamerNode staff what to choose, because I could not decide between Edmonson or Jesper Kyd for Assassin’s Creed II. Both games have incredible soundtracks, but I feel like Edmonson did a better job capturing the music of the setting than Kyd did. There are ethnic soudns running all throughout Uncharted 2‘s tracks, while Assassin’s Creed II felt more futuristic, even when back in time.  Of course, that’s not to say that Kyd didn’t infuse some of the Italian sound into his compositions, as there are sound of opera and mandolins prevalent throughout, but to me there was a little too much attention given to the sci-fi aspect of Assassin’s Creed II as far as the music was concerned. Because of this, Greg Edmonson gets the nod as Best Composer of 2009, though Jesper Kyd should also be lauded. If Edmonson were to receive a 10, Kyd would be a 9.9.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jesper Kyd for Assassin’s Creed II

Adapted Soundtrack of the Year


DJ Hero



While Brutal Legend‘s heavy metal who’s who is a fantastic mix of metal, it is DJ Hero that takes the crown. Why? Two reasons: first, the tracks are more accessible to everyone than Brutal Legend, as if offers a little of everything; and secondly, the game contains original mash-ups of two songs by some of the world’s best DJs, while Brutal Legend‘s soundtrack is just the original song, no new remixes, nothing original. Again, that should not discredit the amazing metal that can be found within the game. DJ Hero just brings more to the table, as far as fresh, enjoyable music goes, than any other adapted soundtrack from the past year.

Original Score of the Year


Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

It needs to be said that this was an incredible year for gaming music. Assassin’s Creed II, Dragon Age: Origins, Modern Warfare 2, and countless others could make a strong case for the best overall score. But Greg Edmonson and his team have created an aural masterpiece in the Uncharted 2 soundtrack. Every song is better than the last, and the overall main theme may be one of the best in gaming history. Listen and love this, gamers, for this is what gaming music has become, and we are all better for it.
HONORABLE MENTION: Assassin’s Creed II, Modern Warfare 2, Dragon Age: Origins

Prediction for Best Original Score of 2010
Mass Effect 2

Sorry dudes, but I can’t be as unpredictable here as I was with the Jason Awards. Having listened to the preview on the soundtrack page, I can honestly say that I am very, very excited for this soundtrack, Well, that and because Jack Wall said to my face: "If you liked the first one, wait until you hear what I did with the second one." Get ready for this, gaming music lovers, because Mass Effect 2‘s soundtrack will knock your socks off.
HONORABLE MENTION: God of War III, New Zelda Wii

That concludes the 2009 Listen Up Awards! I hope you all enjoyed yourselves, and I can’t wait to see what 2010 holds for gaming music!!!


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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