Reviewed: July 14, 2004
Reviewed by: Matt Gonzales
Released: June 22, 2004
There have been a lot of games for the PlayStation 2 that take the complex nature of music and make it not only accessible but just plain fun. Codemasters has been making games for over 16 years, including the familiar MTV-branded Music Generator series, and their third incarnation is easily the best so far.
The Music Generator games, which made their debut in 1999 on the first PlayStation console, have always managed to bring the aura of DJs and their turntable skills to the relatively unskilled, button-mashing public. Yeah, it’s music production for the gaming set. Finally, little Jimmy can stop shooting up Vice City long enough to become the next P. Diddy.
Technically, you wouldn’t call this a game, since it doesn’t really fit that description. There’s no real goal to playing in this genre, only to let your imagination run wild within the musical parameters allowed. And believe me; you really can go nuts with the amount of material provided.
MTV Music Generator 3: This Is The Remix is mostly thought of as being a hip-hop style game since the more high profile artists are associated with that genre of music. But that would be misleading. I’ll be honest though; the game claims to feature 10 different music styles (hip hop, rap, dance hall, party, house, drum & bass, hard house, trance, breaks and garage), but most of them sound about the same to me. Still, there is enough variety to the premixed tracks – and their individual, mixable samples – to provide you with literally hours of remixing.
I bought the first entry to this series for the PC a few years ago and I still bust it out every now and then whenever I get that itch to mix it up. These games are really a lot of fun for those musically inclined gamers that want to go beyond the copycat nature of most rhythm games like PaRappa the Rappa or DDR.
The strength of MTV Music Generator 3: This Is The Remix is its easy-to-use interface. Taking a cue from popular PS2 games, the menu system is fluid and intuitive. It doesn’t feel like your running software, which you are when you consider that you’re basically running a sequencer/mixer on your PlayStation 2. Professional programs of this type for the PC often run at least twice the cost and usually include a huge, boring manual. Now while the menus are relatively easy to navigate, there is a little bit of a stumble here and there when going through some submenus as you think you should do the old press triangle to back up and you should instead press left or right. This keeps the interface from being perfect, but it’s really negligible.
The analog control, while perhaps not as helpful as it should be, does offer a little more control over the D-pad when making incremental changes to some settings, which I’ll talk a little more about in a bit.
With MTV Music Generator 3: This Is The Remix you’re not really involved in the typical, polygonal glory of your usual first person shooters or RPGs. But the focus here, of course, is on the sound, not the graphics. That’s not to say that you don’t get a little visual panache, however. In fact, you get a cool feature that adds dynamic video to your playlists for the total “house package” at your next party. Seriously, imagine having an LCD projector on a blank, white wall and hooked up to your sound system. Dim the lights, pour the drinks and par-tay on the dance floor, dig?
Because of the sound-oriented nature of a program like this, there isn’t a qualitative difference between the consoles. While the XBox generally beats the PS2 in most graphical competition, it simply isn’t an issue here. The cornerstone of the interface is the mixing grid which distills hours of classes in music theory into a familiar visual scheme not unlike looking at an Excel spreadsheet or a Word table. It’s this scheme that makes it easy to see how different musical snippets can fit together in the overall mix. Codemasters indeed.
MTV Music Generator 3: This Is The Remix’s artistic style is nice, eschewing the cheesy FMV sequences of its previous version which had Funkmaster Flex taking you through the process of making your own music on the PlayStation 2. The hip, minimalist yet colorful style of the interface actually makes it easy to navigate as it visually separates the different sub-disciplines with their own schemes. It’s all about simplification here.
As you would expect, sound is the raison d’etre in MTV Music Generator 3: This Is The Remix. And after five years of practice, they’ve refined the experience nicely. With literally thousands of samples available, you have control over a great many attributes in the final mix including effects like flange, delay, reverb, and distortion. I mixed up a little ditty using Snoop Dogg’s entry as a starting point. One of the channels had a clean guitar sample that sounded nice but was a little strong in the mix. I lowered the volume, added a little reverb and hints of distortion and flange and voila – a tonal accent worthy of Clapton himself.
The remix tracks try to be representative of the ten different styles offered with material from the aforementioned Mr. Dogg, OutKast, Sean Paul, Carl Cox, Fabolous, The Ones, DJ Marky, Mike Koglin, Krafty Kuts and R4. Admittedly, I don’t listen to any of these people’s music normally, but they do their part to make the process more accessible to the masses. Remember that the idea here is to take the normally sophisticated discipline of music mixing and sequencing and make it not only easy, but relevant for the average gamer in the target demographic. Done and done.
For those not into the styles of music inclusive of the artists on the box, you are able to rip your own samples of up to 8 seconds in length from your favorite CDs. I actually took Snoop Dogg’s featured song and remixed it with a sample of the classic opening guitar riff from the Guns N’ Roses song “Sweet Child Of Mine”. Using the included tools I was able to crop out just the part I wanted, and fit it into the remixed track perfectly albeit at a slightly slower tempo in order to shoehorn it within the overall mix.
All of this was done in about two or three minutes without even looking at the instructions. It’s just that easy. I never once looked at the included manual, and I managed to mix up a pretty hip-sounding tune in the space of about half an hour. It’s easy to see how one could end up spending literally hours on their PS2 making their own remixed tracks. This game is sweet.
The drawbacks to this game, such as they are, are minor but not insignificant. And that has to do with the obvious need for online capability and storage. While storage is limited by your memory card’s free space, those lucky enough to have Sony’s hard drive will have no problem. But the online angle seemed like a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want to be able to hook up with a community of mixmasters, sharing their masterpieces or even new, high-quality samples?
Beyond that, the game offers countless hours of mixing and remixing music for the sheer pleasure of it. I highly recommend that your PS2 be connected to your home sound system for full effect; it’ll give your subwoofer a nice workout.
The experience of mixing tracks with MTV Music Generator 3: This Is The Remix is not to be missed by anyone musically inclined. As a musical hobbyist myself – I’ve been playing the guitar for almost 20 years and was even in a local garage band that played around town – I always have fun with this series. The strength of it lies in the quality of the provided samples and the ability to import more of your own with ordinary music CDs. But that wouldn’t mean much if the interface weren’t so intuitive.
Another fine entry in the series. I couldn’t recommend throwing out regular price for this game - unless you’re really into this kind of thing – but anyone who likes this kind of music style/subculture should give it a rental spin. Oh, I mean a rizz-ental spizz-in. Sorry, Snoop.