Clubworld is the first foray onto PS2 for the successful Ejay series who have comfortably dominated the PC market for many years. But will the PS2 and its owners warm to a format such as this?
First things first, this is NOT A GAME, now don't let this put you off, what I mean by this statement is that theres no levels to complete, theres no bonus areas, this is a music package used to make songs. Its the kind of software you turn to when you just can't complete the ransom mission on GTA 3 (anyone who's got there knows what i mean?), its the redeeming piece of kit that stops you putting a PS2 shaped hole in your window or from beating your friend to death with it to stop such comments as "you think things through too much, shoot fast think later."
So back to Clubworld, Ejay have pulled out some serious backing for this game, alongside the 12 part tutorial is an intro and demo tracks from the big man himself, Carl Cox, Not only has he indorsed the game but you get to see him programming some tunes himself and get some well crafted tracks as well. They've also got further backing from 8 of the top clubs in the world giving a hugely realistic and genuine club feel to the package.
So how is it layed out? Well earlier Ejay platforms were specialists covering one genre of music, Pc owners saw such titles as Hip Hop Ejay, Rave Ejay and Dance Ejay to name a few. For their first foray onto PS2, they've gone for a generic style encompassing 8 real world clubs each with their own unique style of music, allowing you to develop a different song in each venue theres about 20 different styles of music ranging from hiphop, rap, nu skool, R & B, trance, chillout, house, drum & bass, trip hop, breakbeat, electro, acid, reggae and latin.
The graphics really are not very important when writing your songs, and its clear the developers have paid more attention to the importance of the samples and making the construction of songs much easier, the screen layout is straight forward and easy to understand, its split into four sections, theres the score for your samples to be layed out on, its a normal bog standard computer score that tends to be used in all composition packages, but its very effective, so the old addage of "if it ain't broke, dont fix it" really is true, you can lay out your different samples on different tracks to get a beautiful deep rich sound. At the bottom of your screen under the score are all your samples, from the different catagories (ill cover these in a second) theres an average of 150 samples in each section and you can preview them all before adding them to the score. Then theres the different catagories of samples, they tend to be split into things like, Drums, Bass, Keyboards, Guitars, Vocals, Loops etc... The other area on the composition screen is the tempo and main volume, you can set the volume for certain areas of your score and even diferent tracks, allowing development of songs, also use the tempo to speed up samples to match others rather than having to struggle with timing nd all the time your working, theres an easy reference of wich buttons you need to press to perform tasks.
On the score, i was thoroughly impressed to find that your samples are not locked to fixed places, you can move them on the half beat which really gives you a fantastic ability to programme the music in minute detail, I really cannot express how good the layout is to programme songs!
So to my first venture into clubland.....
My first stop upon starting the game was Brooklyn for some serious hiphop mixing, now i've been seriously into hiphop way back in the days of electric breakdance when it first pounded out some samples on my Stereo, and maybe I was a bit disapointed with the lack of depth in the samples, or maybe i like different underground hiphop, the samples in this club were more what i would class as garage with a few funk drumbeats, however, once i started to lay out the tracks I soon had people coming in from other rooms bobbing their heads and throwing some shapes in the church of dance and i soon forgave Clubworld for its sins.
As i said Clubworld has gone for a generic style which does limit the amount of samples available in each venue so some of the songs can end up sounding the same, but thats only if you dont experiment, if you have your own favourite samples then you are gonna end up composing the same kind of songs. There are nice little additions to the compositon such as in the hip hop club where you get your beautiful decks and the ability to scratch mix your music, its a unique area thats never been seen before on a PS music game of any type, you use the analogue sticks to scratch the track and theres also a built in cross phase on the deck to swop between two tracks. It really never gets boring!
As i said in a game such as this the Graphics do tend to take second place, but wait... They've clearly thought about it for you, theres a jukebox area to the game (which will work with external music CD's as well) theres a beautiful "video" area to the jukebox, you can play tracks from the clubs, and anyone who is familiar with the visual screensavers that are included in WInamp for the PC or Itunes on the Apple Mac will understand what i mean, the beat of the song is expressed on screen by a series of graphics, that are fashioned by the pulsating rhythm and volume.
So whats left to the game I hear you ask? Simple, theres a multiplayer element, I see some very entertaining nights for many of you after the pub and club, and it works as follows...
You can plug up to 4 pads into your PS2 through the multitap and assign certain samples to each button on all four pads. For example, one person can be in charge of Rhythm and loops, another in charge of Vocals, another on Keyboards, and your last guy can sit with the Guitar samples and Bass, theres no score as such because this is classed as a live "Jam" it can be a hidious mess when you first do it, but after a while and some careful practice, familiarising yourself with the samples at your disposal, its as if your reading everyones minds.
So, theres a comfortable amount to do on this game, its not something that will bore you after a short time, Theres been a lot of press recently of DJ's who use PS2's and music development packages such as this and transfered it into the mainstream clubs, theres been a massive amount of it in Ayai Napa over the last year or so, and its starting to get a lot of people record deals, so this is a serious piece of kit.
So to conclude, as a piece of software to relax yourself, enjoy and make some music it is a fantastic beautifully open-ended package that will not grow old or get boring, that is if you like this sort of thing. its understandable that this isnt going to be everyones cup of tea, or bottle of water and glowing lightstick.