There was once a time when the music in a game was almost non-existent, or cringe-worthy at best. Most of the time it was electronic muzak of some kind and either you tuned it out mentally or turned it off it was so monotonous. There have been a few games which did have nice tunes, but nothing you'd really want to burn to CD and play repeatedly.
Nowadays computer games are getting more and more like Hollywood movies. Game developers are throwing large sums of money into making sure all aspects of a game, not just the graphics engine or the packaging and manual are highly professional. This translates into much better voice acting, better quality in-game videos, and of course much, much better music. Some of it is so good now, it's released as a separate retail soundtrack on Audio CD.
Some standout game music for me this past year includes the soundtracks from Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, Mafia, James Bond 007: Nightfire, Jedi Outcast, Battlefield 1942, Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit 2 and NBA Live 2003. No doubt you have your own personal favorites.
I've written this guide to take you through the steps necessary to start extracting and converting great game tracks like these into a format which you can play on your favorite software audio player, or even burn to CD for playback away from your PC. You just have to use the right tools and experiment a little. I cover music extraction from the sample of games mentioned above in a tutorial style, but that should give you enough of an idea on how to extract and convert virtually any in-game music available in today's games.
Note: This guide has been updated to include instructions on how to extract music from Need For Speed: Underground