MTV Music Generator 2
Review of MTV Music Generator 2
MTV Music Generator 2 (MG2) is the latest music creation program from Codemasters. Following the successes of the PSOne versions, the latest program in the series has made the transition onto the PS2.
Creation of a music track is a simple drag drop affair, where small samples or riffs are dropped onto a grid displayed on screen. Once thats been done, a video to accompany the track can be created in almost exactly the same way. So thats it, review complete… Oh no its not! (Ed.)
Damn, almost got away with it there! As they say from humble beginnings mighty oak trees grow, and its the same with MG2. The method of track creation is easy but underneath this lies a tremendously powerful and complex program. However dont let that put you off, because Codemasters have done a good job with the user interface, making even the more complex functionality a breeze to use. What was surprising was the lack of mouse support that would have been ideal for this particular program. Fortunately using the controller is pretty easy, and options such as cursor shape, cursor speed and an Auto Gravity feature can all be tweaked. Different skins can be applied to the user interface to change its look and feel. Although they give the software more of a cool look, in practice I found them harder to use and opted for the default functional but boring MTV skin.
The weakest points of the previous Music incarnations were the sound samples. Sounding cheesier than Mature Cheddar, these really let them down. This time around the samples are generally of a much better quality, but still lack a slightly more underground edge. Vocal samples are truly dreadful but they probably have fairly limited use anyway. Music styles include Rock, RnB, Pop, Indie, Trance, House, Breakbeat and Garage. Drum and Base is sadly missing but some of the Garage and Trance sounds can be adapted to suit. The really new thing with MG2 is that it can actually sample whatever you want. For an extra sum of cash you can buy the Codemasters USB Sampler to add your own sounds, making the scope of this program almost limitless. It would have been nice to include the ability to load .wav or similar sound samples from a PC CD, but unfortunately this is not possible. All the pre-recorded samples have been sampled at 130bpm which sound fine when demoed, but change considerably when pasted into a track running at 180bpm. Demoing the samples should really have been at the speed of the track being created.
An excellent manual is included with the program, and a tutorial in the manual explains track creation step by step. If youve used either Music or Music 2000, youll be in pretty familiar territory here and the tutorial can probably be skipped. But for those whove never used these programs, track creation is simply a process of selecting a Rhythm, Bass, Melody or Vocal riff from the expansive library, and then placing it in the required place on the music grid.
A riff is quite simply a short repeating block of music that contains several similar instruments (a drum riff might contain a 4 bar loop of BASS and SNARE drums with CYMBALS in a recognizable pattern used on many chart topping tunes).
Once a simple Bass or Rhythm riff has been placed, the track can be built on just by adding other riffs to fill the track out. It all ends up being a case of creating a solid starting block, and then layering on new riffs until the track is complete. This has been made even easier by forcing Rhythm riffs to go in the Rhythm columns; Bass riffs in the Bass columns and so on... With 48 tracks in total there should be enough scope for even the most aspiring musicians.
When creating a track all the expected cut/copy/paste features can be used. There is also a rather useful clone feature that creates a new copy of a riff and renames it. This can then be edited at will without the danger of overwriting the existing one. Undo and Redo are also available for when the inevitable happens and it all goes horribly pear shaped. The speed or BPM of the track can be changed (although this doesnt change the demoed riffs speed). Bookmarks can be set up to jump straight to a certain section in the track, which is a rather nice feature, as is the possibility to change the riffs volume. Now were not just talking about a straight percentage here, it can be faded in or out pretty much as required. I found this useful particularly for creating a long cymbal fill where the volume of the cymbals ramps up slowly. I just cloned, then adjusted the volume ramping on each.
The really powerful stuff in the program is hidden away in the Riff Editor which allows you to create them from separate instrument samples. Selecting this option displays a new music grid where actual notes, rather than riffs, can be placed, played and edited. A piano keyboard is displayed at the top of the screen for the more musically inclined. Sounds can be selected from over 9000 recorded samples, including trumpets, guitars, synths and vocals. Once placed on the grid these notes can then be changed and edited in pretty much any way imaginable. Codemasters have done a superb job here, since all of these functions use the same basic interface. The volume envelope of the note can be completely changed, either by simply ramping it, or adding extra envelope points to completely change the way it plays. The notes pitch envelope can be changed in the same way, adding pitch modulation to the note. It can be panned between the left and right speakers, making the note move in space. The whole note sample can be played, or just a section of it can be selected and played. The possibilities with this editor or endless, and because it all uses the same interface its as easy as…err… Well its easy anyway!
Once the tracks been composed and the riffs edited, a video can also be created. Compared to the functionality of the main program, this feature is fairly limited and can be tricky to use. The video is created in much the same way as a track, but has far fewer features, and a less friendly interface.
There is also a Music Jam mode where up to eight people can use MG2 to play music in a kind of Jamming session. This is a pretty much tacked on feature and I dont really know how useful it might be.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'MTV Music Generator 2' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by James Goode © Absolute PlayStation
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