Review: Rockstar Custom Soundtracks

It did not take long for Rockstar to release a utility to enable custom soundtracks in Liberty City Stories (LCS). I would hope that it was planned to launch a few days after the release of the game, and not because of the amount of emails and ranting I am sure that Rockstar has received.

At any rate, it is nice to have custom soundtracks in LCS. You can download Rockstar Custom Tracks v1.0 (RCT) from Rockstar's official site, among other places. But you cannot use it on a Mac. It is Windows only software. This is disappointing as I use a Mac application to manage all of my PSP media.

RCT has no love for you music pirates. Nor does it care if you, like me, purchase a lot of music online either through iTunes or another service. RCT only accepts CDs that are either store bought or burnt out to AIFF/WAV format. You can set the burning option to "Audio CD" in iTunes to burn your music to CD so it will import into RCT.

At least CD-Rs are cheap these days.

I think this is an oversight on Rockstar's part but I am sure this was done to keep in good company with the music industry.

As with most copy write protection it only makes things more difficult. It does not prevent people from doing what they want to do. Because of this, I do not see why this road block even exists.

The software works well enough. It is not without annoyances however, l will get to those in a moment. Lets get started.

Download and install RCT, reboot when asked. You have to insert the Audio CD and have your PSP connected via USB before RCT will function. RCT also requires that you have a LCS save file on your Memory Stick. The read me also says not to import the DATA track of Enhanced CDs. This should be obvious, but doing so can cause errors. Now you are ready to launch Rockstar Custom Tracks.

If you have multiple drives you can select them from the upper left of the application window. Available is an option that will search an internet database to gather the names of the CD tracks. This feature is in most jukebox software such as iTunes.

Click "Find Album Info" or individually name the tracks by clicking on them one by one. You can edit the names after gathering the track information. You may want to shorten them, for example. Three lines of the song title will be displayed in game, but it will truncate longer titles.

Important to note is that the listings appear as "Track Number Song Title - Artist Name - CD Name" such as "03 Rick James - Cold Blooded - GTA San Adreas - Bounce FM." This is a track from the GTA San Adreas soundtrack.

Select all, or only the songs you want to transfer to your PSP. Now click the big purple "CD to PSP" button, then select LCS and the ripping will begin.

Thats it. You are done. Just sit back and have a cup of coffee, or two. It takes a while for a full album. I am happy to report that the entire album Bounce FM from the San Andreas box set only takes up 23.5 MB. This is because RCT uses ATRAC compression which makes very small files.

Please note that you cannot listen to these ATRAC files via the Music menu on the PSP. These tracks are just for LCS at the moment. But the documentation and the way the software is designed make it seem as if future Rockstar games may be able to use this music as well.

If you are at all curious you will find a new folder in your SAVEDATA folder named something like this: ULUS10041CUSTOMTRACKS. In it you will find all the music you just ripped with a .gta file extension.

Interestingly enough, if you go to the Saved Game Utility under the Game menu on the PSP you will find a Corrupted Data listing. Do not delete it or your custom soundtrack for LCS will disappear.

Fire up LCS and press Start to pause the game. Go to the Audio menu and change Custom Tracks from OFF to ON. Now when you are in a vehicle you can change the songs by using the left and right arrows on the D-pad. To listen to the LCS radio stationa again reverse this change in the Audio menu.

Now for those annoyances: no deal breakers, but a couple things were overlooked. With any luck we will see a revised version of RCT sometime in the near future.

While tracks are labeled 01, 02, 03, etc., they do not play in order when flipping through tracks via the D-pad. It would be nice to have an option to change from random or ordered soundtracks. This would have to built into LCS I think, so I do not see this happening.

There is no way to set how the track titles are named when written to the PSP Memory Stick. At least it uses ID3 tag information. RCT should have an option to change the 'template' for how the track names are displayed in game. The first thing I imported was a couple of my San Andreas box set CDs and those titles are pretty long when viewed on the PSP. This could possibly be changed in the RCT software.

I also wish this software and LCS allowed for multiple playlists. It does not. Every song you transfer to your PSP will play in random order with no options to change playlists. This is something else I do not see changing as it would also involve changing the LCS Audio menu.

The only way to get around that limitation is to save the files in separate folders on your hard drive and copy one folder of songs to your PSP's SAVEDATA folder at a time.

Custom soundtracks are a great feature that I hope more PSP games use. This feature alone makes games such as LCS and countless Xbox titles more enjoyable.

With Memory Stick prices dropping there is no reason a developer should leave out custom soundtracks in their PSP games. Thanks to Rockstar Custom Tracks, Liberty City Stories just got even better.

Comments (12)

So then, for historical purposes, is this the first? I remember IGN previewing another game that was going to use the feature, and I can't remember what it was.

Second to my knowledge. I believe there was a racing game that launched with the PSP in Europe. But could not remember (so I did not add it to the article).

I am quite impressed. I now have the entire San Andreas box set on my PSP (eight discs) and it is great. It is fitting to use the San Andreas soundtrack in LCS. Of course the wacky commercials are the best part.

I will check on that UK title. I also do not know if there was a music loader for that game either.

Smit:

It was TOCA Racing

D:

i put some songs on the custom tracks and put it on my psp. i switched the custom tracks 2 on and it worked for one song only. it didnt even play the whole song either, it played like half then it went to a radio station and the custom tracks said unavailable. do u know how i can fix this?

Colby:

I am unable to rip anything, the little 'cd to psp' button is never available.
I have my psp hooked to my computer and set to usb connection but when I launch the rockstar custon soundtrack program it never becomes available.
Whut is wrong with my freaking computer?

Brad:

If you download the original EAC program and use that to convert your mp3 files you can import them into GTA. Simply rename them from .toc to .gta and put them in the savedata folder created by the rockstar version. (UL****CUSTOMTRACKS)

As for the previous poster, if you're trying it with a burnt CD, it won't work, it has to be commercially bought music. However it will work with the original EAC program as noted above.

Have fun.

Brad - it does not have to be a commercially bought CD. It has to be a CD that is recognized by the CDDB. That or you get no track names.

andrew:

hy, i tried to do this, but i can´t even open the zip and i don´t know what to do, please help me.

jason:

I am following everything the read me bit says but the purple button on rocktar custom tracks isnt comeing up it stays void.
What is wrong?

jason:

I have downloaded the software and followed all instructions but the "cd to psp" button is never available.. what should i do?

Shit:

PEOPLE IF YOU AREN'T AWARE HOW EASY, AND FREE OF HASLE TO BUT CD-R'S. GO TO http://www.5star-shareware.com/Windows/Utilities/Video-Editors-Utilities/daemon_tools.html

DOWNLOAD THIS, BURN THE MP3 TRACKS TO IMAGE, MOUNT IMAGE ON VIRTUAL DRIVE, CUSTOM TRACKS ASSUME THE CD IS AUDIO AND GENUINE. (REMEMBER TO BURN IMAGE AS AUDIO CD, I.E. BY USING NERO ETC).. CONNECT THE PSP TO UR COMP FIRST, DEN OPEN THE SOFTWARE, SELECT THE VDRIVE AND DEN CLICK THE CONVERT BUTON (LOOKS LIKE A CD OR SOME SHIT!!)..

AND DER U GO!!!!!!!!!!!... APPROX TOOK LIKE 5 TO 10 MINS IN ORDER TO DO A MINOR THING, AND NOT PAY CD-RS (EVEN THOUGH DER CHEAP) AND WASTE THEM. NOT TO MENTION, THE TIME TAKES LONGER!!... HOPE THAT HELPS, SPREAD WORD AROUND!!

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