MTV Music Generator 3: This is the Remix Review
Developer: Mix Max
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox
Reviewed on PlayStation 2
MTV Music Generator 3 is the third installment in what is arguably the only successful MTV video game franchise, a sequencer simulator for consoles. When it boils right down to it, a console "game" is never going to be as deep as one of the programs professional producers use, such as Cakewalk or Cubase, but the MTV Music Generator audience is comprised of the type of person who is interested in making music but isn't ready to drop a few hundred bucks on professional software. In this respect, MTV Music Generator is a wonderful tool to acclimate a novice to the world of mixing music, but won't turn you into the next DJ Tiesto.
Unlike everything else that MTV has been doing lately, MTV Music Generator 3 is strictly about music. The game consists of either remixing tracks by previous artists or creating your own from scratch. While it can teach you quite a lot about putting music together and is relatively flexible within certain genres, you won't produce music much better than your average house song or generic hip hop beat. This is a step backward from the previous games which were more flexible when it came to different styles of music.
The remixing portion of the game reflects the limited genres on offer. There are only ten songs to choose from, one song each from the artists Snoop Dogg, OutKast, Sean Paul, Carl Cox, Fabolous, The Ones, DJ Marky, Mike Koglin, Krafty Kuts, and R4. You're free to tweak these songs in any way you see fit, which really only means fiddling around with volume levels and making other minor changes. Despite the importance of remixing in the game's title, the gameplay doesn't allow huge changes, and after you've quickly grown tired of the remixing section, you should move on to the substance of MTV Music Generator 3 – generating music from scratch.
This takes place in the studio, where you can make more drastic changes to the 10 songs, or you can start with a new one of your own. No matter which you choose, the methods of mixing are simple but thorough. You can choose from four different categories, drums, bass, riffs, and vocals. Each one has a list of many more that you can peruse through. Browsing can be aggravating as it takes a little time to load each sound clip. When you're scrolling through hundreds of bytes, this becomes increasingly frustrating, and it is hard for the impatient person to listen to every single one of them. Thankfully the tracks are intuitively named and if you're vaguely familiar with techno's naming conventions, you'll know that the exact sound you're seeking is often called "hard house" and then, voila, there it is.
Once you've selected some noise that you're planning on throwing together, the next step is actual placement. The game offers a grid with twenty-four channels, which should be more than ample for any song you're capable of creating for your console. Clips can be placed anywhere on the grid and conveniently they all fit in perfect 4/4 time, as they are either sustained one, two, or four bars. It is very easy to place, delete, and test your music at any time and this is one of the greatest strengths of the program.
If you're not happy with the available selections, you're able to create your own melodies and drumbeats in the SampleBase. While this is a wonderful feature, it verges on being too intricate for casual music makers. It's nice to have so much capacity for customization, but people who are eager to go crazy creating their own sounds are probably ready for more sophisticated software. Whether or not you're any good at it, it's fun to fiddle around. Part of the appeal of MTV Music Generator 3 is that your greatest successes can be completely accidental. Sure, talent is required to make something truly special, but very often (thanks to the straightforward design and the somewhat homogenous music) a new creation will sound good regardless of your natural talent.
If you think you might run out of things to do with MTV Music Generator 3, look no further than the Ripper. Like all of its previous installments, the Generator allows you to rip samples from your own music CDs and incorporate them into your songs. The trick is finding something that will work – if you own a collection of hardcore and punk, that won't assimilate well into boppy house songs. With practice, you can give every song a bit of your own personality. The downside to the Ripper is that legal complications prevent you from taking samples that last very long, and not more than twenty can be used overall. Combine that with the inability to take MTV Music Generator 3 online to share or save your created songs, and the game seems limited in the long run.
If anything, MTV Music Generator 3 serves as a great tool for learning about music creation. There are a ton of features that only a serious mixer would be comfortable fiddling with, which leaves a lot of room for players to grow before they transition on to a more complicated program. But with limited genre selections and no chance of taking your creations beyond the PS2, MTV Music Generator seems more like a tool than a game. For what it does though, it's one of the most reasonably priced tools out there and certainly a must have for console-only music lovers.