There is one thing you should know before reading this review or considering
Beaterator as an iPhone download this "game" isn't a game at all. Despite
being made by Rockstar, the people behind Manhunt and Grand Theft Auto,
Beaterator contains no murder, bloodspray or anything of the sort. Instead, what
you'll find here is a full-fledged music creation studio, though not exactly a
perfect one. Still, it's an impressive achievement that feels right at home on
Before I get into what else Beaterator is, there's one more thing it isn't
aimed at anyone who isn't a fan of rap/hip-hop. There is precious little to play
with that doesn't fall under the hip-hop umbrella, though the way things are
designed there isn't much room for guitar licks or anything of the sort. The
name says it all; you are dealing with beat creation here and little else.
Believe it or not, though, this tool can actually be a lot of fun to fiddle with
for hip-hop fans and non-fans alike.
When you start, you have a choice of building off a set of pre-arranged
templates or starting from scratch. There is an impressive and varied number of
jumping-off points, some of which were created by hip-hop producer Timbaland.
From there, you have an impressive array of different sounds and loops to place
on the track, and you are given enough control over placement and tone that each
song can sound like a completely original work. This was what I was most
concerned about, as some lesser music creation iPhone apps' songs still sound
just like the templates with a few effects on top of them. With Beaterator, you
are given almost complete control, whether you decide to work off a pre-arranged
template or not.
You can also choose to begin creating without a template (or a blank template
essentially the same thing), though you should probably wait until you have
some experience with the app before giving this a shot. There isn't much
guidance given in creating a song from scratch, and without the knowledge of how
things are supposed to work/sound, you'll probably end up with an unlistenable
mess. I did. Yikes.
This game also appeared on Sony's PSP, but after just a few minutes it
becomes clear that the iPhone is where Beaterator belongs. The touch screen
control gives you an AMAZING degree of control over each song's elements,
allowing precise placement and timing of every single tool in your arsenal. You
don't have to be a hip-hop fan, or even a music fan to know that an element even
a half-step off tempo will sound bizarre and ugly, and the touch screen's
precision almost assures this will never happen to your finished tracks.
If I have one complaint, it's that Beaterator doesn't use the iPhone's
capabilities to the fullest extent. The touch screen makes the song creation
elements easy to use and very precise, but Rockstar missed an opportunity by not
allowing you to save your creations on the iPod in the phone. You can save a
number of your songs in the Beaterator app, but I would have liked to export
them to the iPod and play them through there. I envisioned scrolling through my
iTunes library and finding an album of my tracks, complete with an imported
album cover, song names and all the bells and whistles. The missed opportunity
stings a bit, but I don't know if its worth griping that your iPhone can save
and play your creations through one function and not another.
If you think Beaterator is a game or suited to all musical tastes, you're
going to be disappointed in this app. If you go in knowing exactly what you are
getting, and want to spend the time perfecting your skills in building competent
and listenable beats, you can't go wrong. The iPhone continues to raise eyebrows
and expectations when it comes to what a handheld device is capable of, and
Beaterator raises the bar even higher.
Final Rating: 89%