Brutal Legend, Lionwhyte's Pleasure Tower, stage load-out event. Crap falling down? Check. Invincible monsters chasing you in the Deuce and knocking MORE crap out of the way? Check. Nitro fire? Check. Something epic to play alongside it? Well, we have DragonForce. How about the fact that the first song you hear is the opening bass to "Children of the Grave", and it erupts once Eddie picks up the axe. That is class.
Also Rosie at Isara's funeral, in both English and Japanese
The music for the first Gears of War was composed by Kevin Riepl, who also wrote most of the music for another game series of Epic Games. Said awesomeness is still intact, but instead of techno-rock asskicking tracks, we have orchestral asskicking ones.
The theme for Batt's first form Dynamite Rocket is just as good. And then there's Kill or Be Killed. There's something about making the NMH theme more funky, complete with sassy black engrish vocals, that's just AWESOME.
Elite Beat Agents + The Rolling Stones = Awesome incarnate. The way it's pulled off manages to simultaneously drive the point home for how ridiculously badass the Agents are, and why the Rolling Stones are considered to be among the best of the best in rock'n'roll music (or perhaps music in general).
It's difficult to pick one from the Guitar Hero series. Some choice selections from Guitar Hero II:
The build-up to "Freebird". Having finally confirmed five times that you want to play the song, a UFO appears to beam away most of the stage decoration, leaving just you, Stonehenge, and some awesome lighting. And then you get the epic intro to the actual song. Afterwards, your guitarist gets abducted by aliens and the message "LIVE AND LET ROCK" is written in the sky.
But the real highlight of a setlist dominated by painful shredding solos and divebombing fretboard run after divebombing fretboard run? The sheer, unadulterated fun of Freezepop's keytar spectacular "Less Talk More Rokk".
"Jukebox Hero vs. DJ Hero" - definitely the one song that should get players in the right mindset when they play the game.
"Groundhog (Beat Juggle)" is one of the more popular tracks in the lineup. This is either because it's an awesome mix of an awesome track, or because it repeatedly taunts the player in a British accent. "This is no time to kotch!"
Let's just say Activision's ad agency knew what they were doing when they put this one in the commercials.
Rock Band deserves mention for making Boston's already-awesome "Foreplay/Long Time" even more awesome. First, after the instrumental Foreplay section finishes and the band goes quiet, the stage goes dark, then lights up the members of your band, one by one, before the band comes in again. Then, at the end, rather than the fade-out from the original song, you get to experience the true awesomeness of the full ending, capped off with a 23-second-long Big Rock Ending that finishes one of the most epic songs in the game.
"Green Grass and High Tides" is one of the most epic songs in the game. What better way to end a game than play a song even longer and almost nearly as awesome as "Freebird". It's an epic 9.52 minute struggle and if you're on meddium or higher there's some pyrotechnics.
On the AC-DC LIVE Track Pack, "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)" is an epic ending to a setlist. It really captures the feeling of a live concert, and after the final notes past the Big Rock Ending, the game screams "WE SALUTE YOU!!!". It's just like a mini-CMOA.
Or "Let There Be Rock". It's 10 minutes of punishing notes, topped with the longest Big Rock Ending ever.
Speaking of Crackdown, and kind of likes the "Main theme" that pops up here and there in the Crackdown 2 demo ias a standout. In particular, the version that plays when you detonate a Sunburst beacon is just epic, if a bit on the short side.
MadWorld is exceptional for having original tracks produced for the game by licensed artists (with the backing tracks made by the developer's composer. More here), the combination of which leads to some of the best hip-hop tunes in a videogame. You gotta "Get It Up"!
Let's add that there are lots of people who deeply hate Hip-Hop and yet can't stop themselves to hum the songs. Yes, they're that good.
Also from that game, there is the Sky Concert mission. For that mission, you essentially fly through the sky hitting musical notes on your way, and the better you do, the more beautiful the song becomes. This is what a perfect score sounds like.
Growing Wings, for that matter, a triumphant instrumental version of "Dreams, Dreams" used in Twin Seeds in Into Dreams and Bellbridge in Journey of Dreams. Goes with a pretty awesome segment of each game, too.
Drifting Donbalon. The sheer awesomeness of its haunting male choir and creepy circus music will make you wish the music didn't stop after pressing pause.
From Daifukkatsu Black Label, Flotage, the music for Stage 3. Here's a slightly different version for if you unlock the Bonus Boss.
Jake Kaufman, known for his video game remixes as well as some soundtracks like that of Contra 4, worked on the soundtrack for Daifukkatsu Black Label's Arrange mode (aka Ketsupachi). You know you're in for awesomeness when you start the game with this remix of Ketsui's stage 1 music.
The theme song to Time Hollow, the only good thing about that soundtrack, but really powerful.
You think the repetitive "music" for Space Invaders can't be awesome in any sense? Space Invaders Get Even took it and made it epic for the Stage 1 theme, "The Battle Begins". Here's a gameplay video with the song in action, since the soundtrack itself isn't uploaded to YouTube yet.
Try the Space Invaders Extreme Stage 1 music, Invade You. Also the Stage 5-B music, "Executor".
From Extreme 2, the music in normal 5-D, a high-energy J-core song. What makes that over the top is the sound effects for the stage, some of them voiced by a typical J-pop shrill: "Ret's Pray" for the spawn sound, for example. Extreme Stage 5-C in the same game goes the extra mile and changes the firing sounds to girly kiai.
The soundtrack to the Uncharted series on the PS3 is done by Greg Edmonson, known for his work on Firefly. The standout piece is "Nate's Theme," which plays in the main menu screens for both the original and the sequel (referred to in the latter as "Nate's Theme 2.0"). Oddly enough, there is an actual "Uncharted Theme" on the soundtracks, but it's not as cool.
Badlands really makes you feel the majesty and expanse of the desert.
Reunion is quite a moving piece that plays during Shaefer's death.
Wet has what could easily be called an Awesome Soundtrack. The developers really outdid themselves looking for, and in some cases, composing music for this game. There is not a single song that does not fit the places they use it. You really owe it to yourself to check this game out if for nothing other than the music.
"Panguraratta", the Red Locos' theme, brings some swingin' island flavor.
"Bucho Mio", Green Locos' theme, has a snappy, almost J-pop-y flavor to it.
"Zappudo Geron", the Black Locos' theme, is ridiculously infectious. And funky fresh!
And proving that the villains always get the best song, ladies and gentlemen, "Kuttetekaruna." Now that's what a villain song should sound like!
To add further proof, "Merure Merure" is the song that plays in the last level of both games and it's usually associated with Bon Mucho, the Big Bad. The fact that it is genuinely unsettling and it's the only song that the Locorocos seem to be afraid to sing makes for a really kickass Womb Level!
Being a RetrauxRhythm Game, the BIT.TRIP series naturally has to have fittingly awesome music. The first level theme for Beat, "Transition", is quite catchy. Additionally, each game in the series so far features menu and credits music from guest chiptune artists. "The Information Chase" by Bit Shifter, in particular, is very fitting for a credits sequence, especially that of the aforementioned BIT.TRIP Beat.
Alan Wake presents us with Children of the Elder God by the Old Gods of Asgard. It plays during the single most awesome moment in the game. The entire set piece is incredible. Just listen to it! Your partner even comments on how awesome everything was after it's done.
Also The Poet and the Muse is an equally amazing song that plays at the end of Episode 4 where everything starts to come together, and the song's lyrics explain the backstory and what Alan must do next.
"Balance Slays The Demon" from 'American Nightmare is amazing.
"Nanashi no Theme" from Nanashi no Game. You're never going to hear a more melancholy and, after experiencing the moments it's linked to, terrifying chip tune in your life.
The increasingly warped version that plays as you progress is even worse.
Yosumin! Live has a downloadable story(-ish) mode. For the most part, it makes use of the same happy-sugar music as you progress. Then you reach the final "boss" level... and are greeted by a blast of hard rock with the "villain" rapping on about his awesomeness and geometry in an oddly high voice. IT ALL WORKS. Mindblowing stuff.
Half-Minute Hero, known in Japan as Yuusha 30, has a soundtrack that's maybe 30% orchestral themes, while the rest has a progressive rock/heavy metal style that fits the game's tongue-in-cheek motif quite nicely. Definite highlights include the title theme, "Scatter the Enemy!", "Desperate Strike", "The End of the Agony", "The Demon Lord's March", and "The Princess Running Through the Grasslands".
The theme song for Killzone 3 is also quite great in a different sense than the KZ 2 one. It conveys both the desperation of the main characters, their will to keep fighting aswell, as sounding somewhat prophetic towards what awaits the people of Helghan in the end.
Lair may not be the best game, or even good to some, but composer John Debney made sure the music was at the highest quality. Just take a look at the first prologue here.
NieR's OST is made of awesome. Regardless of whether you like the game, the soundtrack is up there with the best, to the point that the creators were frustrated at the music being more popular than the game. It has a lot of vocal work, including both choral and beautiful, haunting solos by vocalist Emi Evans. All of these are in made-up languages based on current ones except for the theme song, Ashes of Dreams. The entire soundtrack deserves to be on this page, but to list a few highlights: Ashes of Dreams / New. Grandma, and Songs of the Ancients / Fate.
For a game about killing opponents in the most brutal and imaginative ways possible, with characters that swear like sailors and don't even take the own story they're in seriously, Bulletstorm has an excellent main theme.
Resident Evil 5 had an unusually awesome song from nowhere in this. It comes at one of the most epic parts of the game as well, sealed inside of an exploding engine room on your way to stop a stealth bomber from taking off.
And that's not even the most epic it gets. For a series that is typically very reserved in the grandeur of its music, some of the final boss music decides to kick the epic up through the roof, using tracks done by a full orchestra, no less. First up is Winds of Madness which is during the battle with Wesker before his evil plane of doom takes off. It starts off subdued and ambient, like most songs from the game. Then out of nowhere the orchestra kicks in and doesn't let up on the intensity until the end. And then almost right after, we get Deep Ambition, the music of the final battle. In a volcano. It is also suitably epic (if not a bit reminiscent of the Jaws Theme at certain points).
Speaking of Resident Evil, arguably the best part of Darkside Chronicles was the music. The game retold RE 2 and Code Veronica, two games with a good deal of epic music in their own right. Not only were many of those tracks reproduced for this game, but many of them done so with full orchestra. Of particular note are any iteration of the Theme of G, and both of the Alexiabattle themes.
An indendant game on X Box Live called I Made A Game With Zombies In It features this as the main theme. It plays during the entire play through of the game, and the game ends when the theme reaches its epic conclusion. Many players consider just the song itself worth the experience to play it, never mind that visual effects.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown score, composed by Michael McCann (who also composed for DEHR), has a number of memorable tracks. Chief among them is the incredibly epic "Deployment", which plays before every mission while you select your soldiers and their gear. New players often report being stuck at that screen a disproportionate amount of time before their very first mission—and not because they have trouble picking units.
In Saints Row 3, you undertake a mission to seize a penthouse crib from the Syndicate. The Boss opts to do so by parachuting into the penthouse's pool and killing everything that moves... while "Power" by Kanye West plays in the background.
Of course, with a game as crazy as Saints Row The Third, they had to make the opening perfectly encompass the true nature of being the boss of an international crime syndicate. And, oh GOD, did it ever.
There's also the song that plays during the mission "Air Steelport".
The Xbox Live Indie game The Deep Cave has an incredible 8-bit soundtrack by 'Fear Of Dark'.
Michiru Yamane probably didn't expect to score a fighting game within her lifetime, but Skullgirls gave her the perfect opportunity to flex her musical muscles with a swanky jazz and swing infused soundtrack:
The most obscure of them all: NEW Eitango Target 1900DS and Eijukugo Target 1000DS, two Japanese-only DS games made to teach proper English grammar. When you play the Astro Wars minigame, you get "this surprisingly amazing piece" considering it's in a game not meant to actually be a game.
Bastion has a simply amazing soundtrack, done by Darren Korb as his first VGM project. Available on the Supergiant Games Store and Steam. Picking examples is really hard.
Nepgear's Theme Ver. V from Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory kicks in whenever the CP Us use their EXE attacks. Nothing makes Neptune transforming into a jet to shoot missiles more awesome than this song.
All Gone (No Escape) also stands out, especially since it plays while Joel's carrying Ellie to the elevator at the end of the hospital level. You're running to safety as fast as you can, holding your surrogate daughter in your arms, completely defenseless against the dozens of soldiers chasing after you, with only this beautiful cello piece playing in the background. Arguably the best example of this game's music making an emotional scene even more powerful than it already was. It's the same soundtrack that played when Sarah died in his arms.