The times of a few beeps in the background of a game are long gone. While the classic 8-bit sounds and melodies will forever have a place in our hearts (and ears), nowadays the technical possibilities create a much larger scope for game audio. Some of the melodies, compositions and tunes featured in games have become classics that will always be remembered and played outside of the games they were conceived for.
Call of Duty
Before Call of Duty became one of the most important First Person Shooter series of all time, there was another series that a lot of the developers had worked on: Medal of Honor. While graphically and in terms of gameplay the original was not entirely comparable, Medal of Honor help establish the notion that atmosphere generated by sound would be major drivers in establishing a believable campaign and gameplay flow.
Many of the developers working on Call of Duty had worked on Medal of Honor at some point or another and were well aware of just how important sound design was. So to achieve authentic sounds of the handguns and rifles they recorded the sounds of shooting, loading and unloading from their real life weapon counterparts. This approach was very different from the methods that were being used at that time and more of an investment than most traditional FPSs. While other shooters were working with strong stories (Half-Life etc.) or had great competitive content (Counter-Strike), the Call of Duty series set a new mark for overall atmosphere – largely because of the audio and the sound design.
Nowadays every gamer knows Call of Duty and the series is one of the largest and most successful franchises in gaming history with multiple studios working on different parts of the series. Remembering how this all has started we can see that we have come quite a long way in terms of audio for games.