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Beaterator

Intimidating beats

Make no mistake: Beaterator is not a game. It's a stupidly detailed, powerful - yet usable - piece of music-making software.

It's impossible to review it like a game. Judging the amount of entertainment the average 'gamer' will get from this is like scoring a drum kit out of ten; you're either an enthusiast or you're not.

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Instead we're going to look at Beatorator as a normal drum ki... erm, piece of music making software.

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Beaterator is split into two modes; Live Mode and Studio. Live mode (which you can see on the left) is a simple-looking freestyle set-up where you can select a genre of music and then loop eight different tracks - such as drums or synths - on the fly. All the while hip hop extraordinaire, Timbaland - who provides exclusive samples for the game - goes a bit mental in the centre of the screen.

This is an easy and inviting mode to get involved with - and it's also as close to an actual videogame Beaterator gets. Using the d-pad to navigate between tracks and assigning various drum loops, piano rifts and basslines to the four face buttons is simple to get to grips with, and you'll soon have a loop going.

Using the R button to switch genres introduces different musical elements to the tracks, such as secondary drums and hi-hats for drum and base, and scary bass rumbles for dub step craft. The number of actual samples on offer is impressive, though expectedly there's a bias towards hip-hop, house and EDM sounds, with actual instruments taking a back seat.

As simple as the Live mode looks though, there's actually a deep and intimidating piece of kit lurking in the background. With a press of the R button you can switch samples in and out of the track HUD and even record your session and upload it to the Rockstar Social Club.

Studio mode is the real meat of Beaterator - an intimidating screen of techy music stuff where the simple icons and Timbaland jives are replaced with audio bars and BPM's.

It could be argued that - largely thanks to lack of face buttons and screen space - Beaterator isn't quite as accessible in the studio space as home console efforts such as the excellent MTV Music Generator series, but it certainly holds its own in features.

For a portable music maker, Beaterator's main mode sports an impressive list of functionality; there's a mixer, a drum crafter, effects editor, vocal recorder, loop crafter, sound recorder, melody machine and more. Rockstar Leeds certainly isn't mucking around.

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For the non-hip hop stars of the world these features are backed up by an extensive set of Tutorial videos voiced by Timbaland himself. They're presented in a slick fashion and are generally useful for getting your head around the dials, though ultimately rookies are unlikely to master the art with videos alone.

Beaterator is a powerful music creator, no doubt, and if you've actually got the ability and patience to put time into it, you could potentially mix up some pretty high quality tunes - and you can export them as Wav or Midi files.

Users are already pumping out some really impressive tunes with the kit on Rockstar's Social Club site, but disappointingly you can't actually access this through the game itself. For legal reasons exporting your own samples onto the Club is also a big no-no, so forget about unleashing your 'Taz and Beefy' drum and base mix into the public domain.

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