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The Movies Review
developer: Lionhead Studios
PIII 800, 256MB RAM, 2.4GB HDD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Nov 08, 05 (released)
|» All About The Movies on ActionTrip|
It has been a long-held dream of mine to be a movie star.
It has also been a long-held dream of mine to be an intergalactic war hero with hot alien chicks with four breasts massaging my netherparts while showering me with kisses and beer. (Ack! Too Much Info! - 2Lions)
Welcome to The Movies Studios!
C'mon, man. Time to take your drunk ass home.
Somehow I don't think that either of those fantasies will come true. Thank God for The Movies. Why do I say this? Because with this game, I can make at least one of those fantasies come true. (I'm pretty sure I can do the alien thing, but make me a star? Not so sure.)
The Movies is the latest offering by the forward thinking Lionhead Studios, best known for being home to Peter Molyneux and the Black & White series. I always look forward to offerings from this group, as they tend to be more cerebral as well as greatly entertaining. After playing a Lionhead game, I typically feel like a smarter, better person. That or I get so frustrated I want to put my fist through the monitor.
If I had to compare it (and I do) to other genres of gaming, the game most resembles the Tycoon series. The objective is simple: Create a highly successful movie studio. Manage your Stars, Directors, Extras, Sets, Scriptwriters and all that Hollywood nonsense that keeps butts in the seats for years on end. The game starts in the first days of movie evolution - the 1920's. You begin with an empty lot, which you must then populate with the structures necessary to bring young would-be ing'nues and starlets to your doorstep, and then put 'em to work. The game's tutorial shepherds you through making your first film, and from there, you're off to the races.
Making movies can be a relatively straightforward process, or it can be an immensely complicated one, based upon your patience level, your level of creativity, and your desire to make the big bucks. You can either set a few scriptwriters in an office, having them plug away at a would-be masterpiece, or you can build your own Advanced Scriptwriting Studio, take pen in hand and go to work. I'll talk more about this a bit later in the review.
There's a great deal to consider in all facets of moviemaking here. There are 5 genres of movie you can create at any time - Comedy, Action, Romance, Horror or Sci-Fi. Each actor or director that you have to choose from has certain experience in each genre, so choose wisely when casting someone with little to no experience in a romance flick when she's best suited for Comedy. The director and star must also get to know one another off-set as well as on - the larger the relationship is off-screen, the better their on-screen performances will be. In between films, your director and star can go have a drink at the bar, have a bite to eat at the snack bar or restaurant, or can go shoot a round of hoops together at the basketball court. Lastly, the movie has to be something that the public wants to go see. If the only type of film your studio produces is comedies, the public will blanch on them quickly. The more you mix things up, the more the public will be interested in your films. Also, the game reports world events that will suggest what type of film you should be making at any one time, so listen to your public!
Every five years, the game extends awards to the major studios (including yours) for the best actor, movie, studio, etc. If you win enough of these awards, your studio is rewarded with new sets that no other studio has, behavioral changes to your actors (less tantrums, no pay, etc), so it pays to do the things necessary to make good films.
Another thing that will help you is the attractiveness of your studio lot. If your lot is trashy, disjointed and tough to navigate, your ability to make movies will be hampered. Your lot has a Prestige level. If your lot is highly adorned, your studio will attract new starlets, scriptwriters, etc. If your lot looks like garbage, no one will want to work there. Each of these factors plays a direct role in the success of your studio and of each movie your studio releases.
Now with all of that said, how does the game actually play?
If you're any fan of the Sims or the Tycoon series, the interface will seem pretty intuitive. If you're NOT a fan, the interface STILL seems pretty intuitive. The game offers a pretty healthy tutorial for the uninitiated, so don't worry if you'd like to start making movies, and don't quite get this type of game. The graphics are very bright and colorful, and the models are quite detailed - when zoomed in completely, they look beautiful, and making the transition to maximum altitude is very fluid. The movies also take on the traits of the time period they were filmed in - very grainy and scratchy in the 20's and 30's, and as the technology becomes available, your movies will start to look better and better.
Look, I ain't showing my pride in the movie and that's final!
Bill Bates, Roy Dent? Porn names?
The audio is in tune with the time period, if not a bit repetitive. I really don't have any complaints per se, but a part of making movies is having a killer soundtrack, and I didn't see any tools to update or import sounds to your movies. If that component was a tool of the Advanced Script Editor or Post-Production Studio that would be killer.
This brings me to the Advanced Script Editor and the Post-Production Studio. (You're the God of Segue. - 2Lions) These two buildings could be a complete game in and of themselves. The Advanced Script Editor allows you to control every facet of your movie - from the title to casting, to each individual scene. I could talk for about 10 more pages as to what you can do with these tools, and still may not cover them completely. Suffice it to say that they're pretty comprehensive. The Post-Production Studio allows you to take a computer-generated script and tweak it as you see fit, using the same set of tools. It ALSO allows you to export your movies into files that you can share between friends. (And before you ask, no, you can't make computer porn with these tools. Sorry.) The Advanced Script Editor also has a VERY comprehensive tutorial that shows you all of the ins and outs of the toolkit, so you can flex those directorial muscles as much as you like. If you'd like to skip the studio planning part of the game to unlock these tools, you can enter the game's Sandbox mode, where you have access to these buildings and can jump right in making your own custom movies.
If there's anything negative I could say about this game, it would be the lack of the Instant Gratification factor. Yeah, sure, making movies is fun and all, but this is a game that you really have to invest some time in to get the returns that you're looking for. Of course, if that's the worst thing I have to say about this game, then that's saying something. This is not a game for someone who has a casual amount of time to play.
The Movies is an excellent simulation game. Its intuitive interface allows anyone to grasp the tools necessary to start making films immediately, as well as providing an outlet for the future Stanley Kubricks of the world to get busy working on the world's next great film. (Plan 9 from Outer Space? - 2Lions)
Intuitive Interface; easy to make films; a nice, happy fun game;
Not for the casual gamer; early films are kinda hokey; advanced tools can be overwhelming without the tutorial.
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