Timbaland’s Beaterator, Impressions.

Rockstar has shown time and time again that it has good taste in music. DJ Premier and DJ Green Lantern hosted two of GTA4’s radio stations; Oh No, MF Doom and Ghostface did the title track for Chinatown Wars; and Statik Selektah did the soundtrack for The Lost and Damned as well as a banger for Midnight Club: L.A.

So their collaboration with Timbaland on a music game should come as no surprise. Beaterator, which came out last week, is Rockstar’s first big foray into the music genre.

Rockstar is quick to point out that Beaterator isn’t a game in the traditional sense in that it doesn’t have goals and challenges like Rock Band or Guitar Hero. With Beaterator, Rockstar aimed to create a portable, powerful, user-friendly music creation suite.

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The big question is, is Beaterator a tool or a toy? From my time with the game, it looks like a little of both.

You start out in Live Play mode, where you string together loops from pre-existing templates. You can easily switch around different drums, snares, synths, etc. which will be arranged to sound like house, pop or hip-hop depending on the template. You can blindly press buttons and whatever comes out will sound like music. If you never leave Live Play, Beaterator is a toy.

But once you’ve made something you like, you can take your creation into Studio Session and edit and rearrange each loop. Then, in Song Crafter, you can create your own loops and edit everything in far more detail. Beaterator offers a very robust editor. It’s not just a Timbaland sound board.

There is one major restriction: everything you make in Beaterator will sound distinctly Timbaland-ish, (go here if you don’t know what that means) unless you stray very far from the premade sounds and loops. This will deter anyone who wants a full-fledged studio in their pocket (and anyone who hates Timbaland), but the game app would be overwhelming if it were completely open-ended. A Rockstar rep said future iterations with different producers are possible.

From what I saw, Beaterator looks very thorough, but I didn’t get to really push its limits. Regardless, Beaterator definitely removes the intimidation factor that hangs over music production.


Beaterator is out now for the PSP for $39.99.

Debut Trailer

Ice- T, Chris Robinson, Kevin Rudolf, Jay Sean, Clinton Sparks, Double-0 and Donnis play Beaterator

Marco Polo, Torae, Dru Ha, Buckshot, Ski Beatz, Pete Rock, Sean Price and Jay Electronica play Beaterator

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