Rockstar is a studio that loves music. There’s no denying that fact as you soak in the urban sounds of Liberty City in GTA IV
or the finely selected tracks in Midnight Club
. Perhaps the most evident offspring of this passion is Beaterator
, which began life as an experimental game on the developer’s website, and is now so popular that a PSP version is incoming. That, and hip-hop producer Timbaland is getting involved too! Madness!
At its core, Beaterator
is a music creation program more than a game, allowing you to mix and create your own samples and beats from a selection of pre-recorded sounds. When described like that, it sounds a lot like past games such as Music for the PlayStation One, but Rockstar has got plenty of unique modes and tricks here that allow for much more advanced control.
There are three main parts to Beaterator
that are tailor-made for various levels of music creation. If you’re a bit of a novice and don’t want to be overwhelmed with buttons and timelines, then an entry-level mode called ‘Live Play’ puts you in a club with an animated Timbaland as you create your own song in real time.
In Live Play you have eight speakers in the corners of two screens, each with the four PlayStation face buttons marked inside. Each face button corresponds to a variant of a particular sample, loaded from the game’s soundbank. If the default sounds aren’t what you fancy, you can change them at any point during your session. A recording mode lets you save your live mix for finer tuning in the ‘Studio’ mode.
You can quite happily keep your Live Play mix as it is, but Studio mode allows you to have more control over the way your recording sounds. Using a mixing deck as an interface, your samples are outlined in a set of eight soundbanks, lined up into ‘tabs’. When selecting each tab, you get deeper control over the timing and specifics of the sounds you mixed together. Below the tabs are options that manage Master Volume, Pans and Swings, and you can edit specific bars via an option in the top left hand corner, too.
Pressing Select at any point during this mode will take you to the third layer of Beaterator
– the Song Crafter. This is the interface that more closely resembles professional sound creation software like Fruit Loops, and gives you a timeline-based rundown of all the samples and timings used in your piece. Samples can be lifted, copied and pasted anywhere, and if you don’t like the way your music is flowing you can even directly edit each and every sample – essentially creating your own music from the ground up.