TGS has wrought its torrent of media goodness, and somewhere in the mix, Silent Hill: Downpour crept eerily out of the mist (okay, not so much with the mist this time) and onto the computer screens of little girls and boys everywhere. The trailer features a bit more insight into Murphy Pendelton, showcases the new fog-less Silent Hill, and features some hot, but brief, creepy-thing-on-wheelchair action. Overall, the game seems a bit more "conventional" than its predecessors, with enemies more humanoid than those flesh-things we've all come to know and love.
Then there is Korn. When I first heard that the nu-metal wunderkinds were going to be on the soundtrack, it sparked a ferocious inner discourse - one that found its form in a series of sighs of varying pitches, durations and intensities, punctuated by the occasional inhale needed to produce more sighs. Those who wish to purchase their one-way ticket to RantVille are encouraged to hit the jump; others can simply enjoy 3:29 of newfangled, survival horror.
This is the kind of thing that annoys me, in a disproportionately profound way, about the market. "Selling out" seems like a trite expression, for those of my age group, who were subject to the repetition of those two words ad nauseum - it's especially empty, because Silent Hill has quickly become the video game equivalent of a cover band - but the condescending "buy this, it has a Korn song" speaks to the problem that crops up every so often in the world of gaming: popular music and video games.
Outside of Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and the like, I've never been comfortable with a proper, radio-ready rock song in a video game. It's one thing to have a "verse, chorus, verse" tune in the soundtrack (for all the negative things that have been said about Silent Hill 4, "Room of Angel" fit beautifully), but great care must be taken to ensure that its inclusion serves as a compliment to - not a distraction from - the game's atmosphere. Even Doom III succumbed to this, albeit in a very limited way, with the inclusion of a Tool song - despite being an instrumental diddy that cropped up once or twice. While I adore Maynard & Co. to the ends of the earth, the track seemed clearly out of place - having nothing to do with the rest of the soundtrack, but serving the useful function of being a selling point, helpfully illustrated by the label on my copy of Doom III, which read "featuring new music by TOOL," or something along those lines.
As always, there are exceptions. Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) provided what was, in my opinion, and excellent soundtrack to Quake. This was before his stunning transformation from tortured musician to "Butch McChestFlex" (interesting fun fact: Later NIN releases state the music as being written by Trent "Iron Body" Reznor), one no doubt inspired by his new lease on life, i.e. trading in his mountains of cocaine for a Zoloft prescription. Thus, the sonic atmosphere bore all the hallmarks of his earlier, and in my mind, more interesting incarnation. The reason Reznor succeeded was that the soundtrack was focused not on making Nine Inch Nails a selling point, but selecting someone whose general talents served the project well. Yes, there was a definite "industrial" theme (in that accessible, NIN way) to initial tune, but for the most part, someone who picked up a copy of the Quake soundtrack wouldn't immediately think "Trent Reznor." Moreover, this isn't just limited to games. David Lynch's "Lost Highway" suffered a similar fate - it's worth noting that Reznor served as producer for the soundtrack - unduly inserting Rammstein and Marilyn Manson songs where, well, such songs should not be.
You know, in the movie.
Granted, it's easy to sympathize with the guys in Korn. Being one of these musician types, promotion is a massive pain - particularly with the band in question, which isn't exactly popular music's golden child anymore - and fault ultimately lies with Vatra. It's also worth noting that, like Doom III, the song might serve simply as something like menu music. Still, it's an annoying, and I believe altogether unappealing trend - a tacked-on metal track doesn't make me any more inclined to purchase a game. Hopefully Korn's "main theme" music will serve only a momentary, forgettable role; still, I'll take Mary Elizabeth McGlynn over Jonathan Davis any day.