MTV Music Generator 2
You’ll not find many sentences in PLAY which berate the activity of videogaming or bemoan the specific remit of a good console. But if you’re enchanted by moving pixels, feel the hair on the back of your neck prickle whenever a stirring score accompanies the on-screen action, or revel in the ingenuity of a good puzzle, then the chances are such fun-filled boxes as the PS2 will occasionally cause you frustration. Videogames, like many hobbies, can really get the creative juices bubbling; but consoles themselves rarely provide an adequate canvas for expression and it’s only down to the more experimental publishers, such as Codemasters, that owners are given the chance to make the move from consumer to creator.
MTV Music Generator 2, as with its prequels Music and Music 2000, has been cleverly conceived and largely builds on the titles that preceded it. Jam mode allows those who just want to muck about and annoy the neighbours after a boozy night out to throw haphazard arrangements together on the fly, while those wishing to get into digital music creation for the first time can learn the ability to arrange vast swathes of predefined tracks. Even those comfortable with editing tunes via a Joypad will enjoy access to a fairly powerful compositional tool. When considering a music program’s power, there are three main areas to scrutinise – the quality of the sounds one is able to manipulate, the functionality of the software and its ease-of-use. When it comes to raw hardware, the PS2 is on good ground – 48 note polyphony is more than most will require, and should allow the adventurous to add flange, chorus, delay and echo to taste (more on that later though). The soundchip lends an effortless presence to compositions, though the samples provided range from cool to weak and, as before, the snares on offer come across as notably quiet at default. An option to time-stretch (in 5% increments only) at the sample editing level betrays the program’s techno leanings; with the results typically datadamaging, the omission of a more standard pitch shifter is unfathomable however. This is especially true considering that tweaking the pitch envelope to transpose a sample won’t shift its core pitch and will, over the course of an octave, detune it by as much as a tone. [My head hurts – Ed].
Where MTVMG2 tests however, is in its omission of effects which really should be included – and by included we mean ‘assigned as note properties’. If you want flange you now HAVE to overlay two examples of the same sample then offset one against the other. You can’t just highlight the note and select ‘Flange’ – the option simply isn’t there.We don’t mind effects taking up tracks rather than working ‘in the background’ as before, but the program is happy to lay down chords for beginners, so why the same service isn’t included for effects is puzzling. Whilst the expert now has more control over each sound than ever, expedient techniques which were possible in the original Music are impossible to employ in this new iteration…something which that sub-90% score reflects.Whilst we’re having a moan, the trigger system by which a generic studio effect is added also comes across as convoluted – new ways of working are fine, but Jester appears to have fixed a couple of things which really weren’t broken in the first place, and the accommodation of established practices would have been nice. Don’t misunderstand though. In mentioning MTVMG2’s chief shortcomings we’re only defining the program’s limits for those experienced enough to be in danger of attempting to exceed them – it remains an awesome piece of software and the sensibilities which saw its creation deserve support. Granted, a touch too much is expected of utter novices in a few areas – but it’s a challenge no less exciting than fragging your way through Quake III, and infinitely more satisfactory in the long run.