Rockstar Games, the company behind the uber-popular Grand Theft Auto series, announced earlier this year that they had teamed up with producer Timbaland for a full-featured beatmaker title called the Beaterator. The game, available for the PSP, is out now. And, we were able to get a copy to test and review.
When we first heard about the new game, we didn’t expect it much from it. Well, not as much as it actually has to offer now that we’ve seen it. We were thoroughly impressed with how much was packed into the Beaterator, especially since its released on a handheld such as the PSP.
The game is made with both musicians and music fans alike, and is capable of entertaining both. However, the learning curve may be a little steep for casual composers or beatmakers. While it has a lot depth, its ease of use is sacrificed so that its many features could be included.
It took a while to really get the hang of the Beaterator once we finally popped it in. There are literally thousands of sounds and samples available to create your own track, via loops — with the option to add in everything from numerous guitar strings to different levels of drums and keys. Obviously, it’s geared toward more of a hip-hop based sound, or even dance, so don’t expect to compose string quartets with it.
When you start, you are presented with two different modes to get started: Live Play and the Studio — both of which can be used together to craft your final track.
Live Play is a performance tool that lets you mix either Beaterator’s pre-made loops, or your own. It consists of several tracks, represented by speakers in the corners of the screen, each of which contain four different loops (represented by the PSP’s four buttons) to add into composition. It’s simple and easy to use, as well as entertaining, but things really get interesting when you begin to create your own material or samples, load it from your PC and into the game.
You can record your performance and from there, load them into the timeline of your Song Crafter, which make things a little easier for your novice users, instead of laying out each piece on your own in The Studio mode. From here, you can edit your song in the timeline to your liking.
The Live Play is definitely the most user-friendly mode of the Beaterator, but if you wanna really get on a more advanced level of composing a song, heading to The Studio area is where it’s done. However, things can get overwhelming on your first attempt, and can take some practice to really get it down.
In The Studio, you start by adding in loops. As mentioned, there’s thousands to choose from, and this gets a little tiresome going through each, previewing them, and adding them into your composition. Some of them aren’t all that great anyway. Like, for example, some of the electric guitar loops don’t sound too much like the real thing. There’s a solution though: Timbaland provides his own set of loops for you to use, all of which are labeled by the producer in separate categories, so they’re easy to find. There’s also tons of options in The Studio. On each of your tracks, youu can adjust everything from volume to pan, etc.
One feature that impressed us highly was the built-in synthesizer for creating your own sounds. It isn’t mastered without some prior knowledge, or a lot of practice, but once you do get it, it’s amazing. You can use it on your own samples, or even your voice, if you choose to import them from your PC. From here, the possibilities are nearly endless. If you really try, it’s possible to create a complete original track, something we didn’t expect at all from the Beaterator.
In the end, Beaterator isn’t the easiest piece of music software to use, but offers a lot of the functionality you’d expect from a very expensive PC-based program. But, as mentioned, the learning curve is steep, and the steps to get the same effects on a PC are a little tougher. Still, possible though.
For $40, you can’t really complain. For something that you can use to create a piece of music on the fly, this could help. You just need to really spend time working with it, learning all the options, and memorizing these steps to make it worthwhile. If you can do that, it’s a powerful musical composer, considering.
If you’re up for it, Beaterator is worth trying. It’s definitely the best music studio the PSP has to offer, but it still has a lot of room for improvement. Ease of use would be the first thing we’d suggest they work on.
Our Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0