I know that a lot of friends who game always play with their own music on, rather than listening to game music or the ambient background sounds. I never do, even in a game like EVE Online which has a rather limited sonic loop of background music (is it actually music? Not sure). I love the music in Warcraft, which is far and away my favourite so far. Aion was quite nice, and although I’m trying to remember what the background music in Warhammer and LotRO was like, I can’t – which leads me to believe that those games had less memorable soundtracks.
I’m quite picky about music at work, as well. This is a sore subject at the moment because one person in our office is allowed to keep a radio playing and unfortunately has a taste for bland commercial pop stations, with JLS and Katy Perry playing on heavy rotation. There is only so much Katy Perry that one can listen to without wanting to poke out one’s eardrums, and as for JLS…!!! So most of the development team resorts to headphones. This would be a good solution except for the fact that I can’t write or code if I’m listening to English-language music. I can’t tune the lyrics out, and it’s too distracting.
So I listen to j-rock (Miyavi, Gackt, Blood, Dir En Grey, etc.) and Rammstein. I may be the only person who can code with Rammstein blasting at full volumn through my headset. :) It’s odd because I have always been so distracted by sound. I’ve always been revolted by people who eat with their mouths open or talk with their mouths full (which is actually quite common here – everyone seems to eat as though all the rest of us are deaf), and loud crunching noises make me crazy. Hence very loud Japanese music. Suggestions of good, loud foreign-language bands are welcome. :D I warn you, I have terrible taste in music. I fully admit to being a totally mad Marilyn Manson fan, so there is quite a lot of leeway there.
Anyway, the quality of the music in a game is one of the points that I judge a game on. It’s not a major factor, and it wouldn’t make a game unplayable for me if I hated it – but it adds so much to the evocative nature of each environment.
EDIT: Did some Googling, since I was on the subject. Here are some links to some interesting bands that I hadn’t heard before: