Reviewed Version 1.1 using iPhone 3GS (3.1.2)
It seems like a recipe for success, have one of the world’s best developers (Rockstar) hook up with one of the world’s best music producers (Timbaland) to make a music creation tool ala MTV Music Generator. As a music producer myself and a avid gamer I look up to both Rockstar and Timbaland , so as you can imagine I’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of Beaterator for the iPhone since the day it was announced. Unfortunately not only does Beaterator fail to live up to my expectations, it only fails to live up to the clout of the big names associated with it. A clunky interface, lack of direction and poor quality samples all work in tandem to produce a worthless experience that doesn’t even justify it’s lower than expected asking price (£3/$5).
From the moment you start up Beaterator and see the blank 10×8 grid staring at you you’ll instantly feel daunted. Rather than ease you in gently and “teach” you the fine art of crafting banging beats, Rockstar opted to use the Fuck You approach and force users to figure out what to do on their own. Navigating through the menu’s you’ll find a Help option which contains text that will prove vital to get you going. Understandably the last thing gamers would want to do after purchasing a brand new game is read lengthy instructions but since music production is such a complex and technical art-form I guess it‘s only natural.
Once you’ve read up on everything Beaterator has to offer, it’s time to craft your very own Timbo quality beats right? Well, no not exactly. Tapping on an empty portion of the grid open up a loop menu where you can select some of the most muffled, low-quality samples you’ll ever hear in your life. The amount of pre-made loops available is impressive, altogether there are over 1000 loops to choose from including pianos, hi-hats, kicks, strings, synths, sound effects etc. all composed by either the folks at R* or Timbaland himself. Unfortunately the inability to significantly customize any of these loops renders a majority of them useless as you’ll never feel like you can make them your own. Once you’ve found a sample you that like and doesn’t sound like it was recorded straight from pirate radio station with a rusty cassette tape (which is easier said that done) you can add it to a channel on your grid, now have fun repeating this mundane process until you have every instrument you need.
Even with it’s 1000+ library, finding a decent sample for anything other than drums is surprisingly hard. Almost everything you’ll preview will either be low quality, edited horribly or sound completely wack. If you are lucky enough to find something that doesn’t suck good luck finding another sample to compliment it, and since you can’t preview other samples while your unfinished beat is playing it’s extremely difficult to tell what will or won’t work for you without selecting it first. If the sample you’ve selected doesn’t completely gel with what you already have simply fumble through the lengthy deletion process and search again. You can slightly modify each sample by adjusting the Reverb and Pan but for the most part they just serve to make an already bad sample sound even worse.
I’m not going to waste either of our time going further in-depth on this disaster, by now I’m sure you’ve figured out that a music creation tool which requires you to stitch pre-made loops together but doesn’t even bother to make sure that most of it’s loops are actually good isn’t worth your money. It seems not even the developers or Timbo himself were able to get to grips with this cluster-fuck as 17 out of the 18 creations which come pre-installed as templates are atrocious. Rockstar might as well have outsourced development for this to a XNA developer and used Nitty instead of Timbo, that’s the only way I think they could have screwed things up even more.