The Movies (PC)
Sean W. Gibson / Apr 2nd, 2006 No Comments
One of the most anticipated titles for the PC in ages, The Movies from Activision is a sim game that enables players to build and control their own Hollywood motion picture studio and become a movie making mogul. There's everything that a real studio would go through packed into the game, including the ability to create unique movies. Players even get to choose everything from the script, cast, crew, lighting and sound to the marketing, and the money . These movies can be altered and saved, then posted and viewed anywhere – including the heavily hit website where you can view movies from all game players around the world. Through strategy and skill, players build their studios into entertainment empires by making hit movies, researching and introducing the newest cinematic technologies and nurturing the biggest stars.
The list of features as supplied by the manufacturer:
* From nobody to mogul – Become a mega-rich studio honcho, calling all the shots and hiring and firing at will. Will you ignore the stars’ tantrums? Will you give in to their monstrous egos and allow them to fall in and out of love, gain weight or get plastic surgery? Or will you show them who’s boss by ruining careers, crushing dreams and putting yourself first?
* From pitch to premiere – Handpick the scripts you want to greenlight, watch them being shot or direct the movies yourself. Make the films you love to watch or create brand new masterpieces. Innovate with new technological advancements or let other studios make the investment and ride their coattails.
* From flops to runaway hits – Make comedies, action films, war movies, romances, sci-fi flicks, horror films or anything you choose. Different genres at different times attract different audiences, so are you after a box office smash or is pleasing the critics and winning awards more your scene?
* Anything is possible with The Movies – Ultimately, you'll be judged by the movies you make. Will you be brave enough to put your movies on the web or share them with friends? Will your movies pick up a nomination and win you a real award? Will this game launch you into an actual movie career? Studio power broker, talent spotter or film director—you can be one or all three. That’s the magic of The Movies.
* Two sides of Hollywood, two modes of gameplay – In Sandbox Mode, you can focus exclusively on making movies. In Story Mode, your objective is to build your own studio from the ground up by starting with an empty lot. Now it’s your chance to find out if you have what it takes to make it in Hollywood.
For a sim type game, The Movies offers up a decent amount of graphical flavor to make things interesting not only while hovering over your own studio, but also while doing movie-making of your own. Even with modest PC hardware and a decent graphics card, the game is not graphically intensive enough to make a huge difference if you had better hardware running the game. The sets are nicely varied, the studio with all the bells and whistles you can add are varied, and the movie making magic really hits the graphical bone when you view the movies you make. A funny feature (kind of) with The Movies is that when you make movies early on and your movie making technology isn't up to snuff, the movies always come out grainy and impossible to watch. Nice effect, but it wears after a while. Either way, the graphics of The Movies are pretty decent, but not close to the core of the overall experience.
Surprisingly, the sound of The Movies actually was funny, chosen correctly, and done in a way that you can watch over your studio but take the sound queues to really assist in managing the huge (and sometimes impossible) task of running your studio. The "radio voices" are witty and well done, and the soundtrack is simple, lighthearted, but don't really get on your nerves. There are plenty of sound effects to play with while in movie making mode (you don't have to necessarily play the mogul mode to just make movies). Again, although the sound is pretty solid with the game, it's not really at the core of the gameplay experience, but definitely adds to the flavor.
Here's the whole game – disregard any fancy graphics or amazing surround sound. This game is ALL about the gameplay – and if you enjoy deep, immersive, and highly addictive games – then this is your dream title. The Movies will start you out early in the beginning era of Hollywood back in the 1920s, with a small studio and just enough money to put together your first couple of films. It's up to you to decide what movies to make, who to hire as your stars and directors, and grow your studio. The real fun comes in the competition with other rival (computer owned) studios come awards time (5 sim years) and if you win, the bonuses can mean all the difference in the world in making it or losing it all.
After playing the game for 50 sim years three times around, here are some extremely valuable tips for a successful game:
* Concentrate on only 1 or 2 genres of film. Your stars will really begin to get good at what they do, and thus, your movies will be better.
* 2 actors and 2 directors to start. One each per movie, and make 2 movies at once.
* Constantly have people practicing. Nobody should be idle ever – especially extras whom you can groom to be stars of the future.
* Writers should always be writing non-stop, sell excess scripts. You can't wear these guys out and they produce valuable extra dollars for your studio, and get better every time they produce a script.
* Early on perhaps build 2 stage sets, you might run low on cash for a while but this way the volume of movies released goes way up.
* Lay out your studio early on , sets need to be close to each other. This can mean everything when managing the studio and getting a good score for the studio lot.
* Later on get 2 directors and 6 stars … with teams of 2 specializing in genres.
* For movies with long productions, you can halt production for de-stress of the actors and director; all you have to do is drag the icon onto the ground
* You can drag upset people back to work if they leave the set in a rampage. This is a key factor in getting some movies made, otherwise they just end up at the bar … for years.
* Put casting office near sets
* Do makeovers of all stars before the start of a new decade (i.e. 1939 for the 1940s). This increases their happiness and attractiveness scores, so they are rated higher.
* Make sure you give your stars an entourage, a huge trailer (all should have one kind of trailer), and a big salary. This is the key to getting their ratings high.
If you're not big on the mogul thing, or in my case you play it to death and just want to try your hand in making a funny movie – there's the movie making mode that allows you to release your creative juices. The amount of control you have in this mode is absolutely astounding and really requires a ton of patience and curiosity to master. There seems to be three settings for each individual setting, of which there must be hundreds. It's amazing that Lionhead put so much into this game – this level of immersive detail is almost unprecedented. For movie making hacks or film students – you guys are just going to eat this up all day and night long. Overall, the gameplay of The Movies is ridiculously addicting and will definitely put a strain on any relationship or marriage you might be in. You'll start your studio, groom your stars, and just always want to release "just one more film" or even "make it to just one more awards show" and suddenly realize you've lost 6 hours of your life to the game. But that's what a great game will do to you – and The Movies really delivers in that sense. This is easily the best "sim" game released.
ONLINE / MULTIPLAYER
Since there's so much to do, see, lay out, and produce in this game, you'll invariably play the game through at least 40 to 50 years a few times, and all the way through (appx 100 years) once or twice. Then you'll start making your own movies, sending them to friends for a laugh (you can export them to a web-friendly format) and realize – gee I want to play mogul mode again. Then you repeat the process all over again… and again. The Movies offers a tremendous replayability factor and a high longevity score – especially since the expansion pack has already been announced.
I've never played a sim game like this, and doubt I ever will again. The amount of detail, the deep level of play, the amazing amount of controls, and all the fun stuff to experience is something that no sim game has ever dug this deep for. This is the type of game we'll look back on in 5 years and realize just how great it was compared to anything that had been released up to this point. Tremendous originality for a genre that sorely needed it.
Clearly, The Movies is a big winner in our book and a great PC game that everyone in the entire family can enjoy and get a lot of entertainment out of. The level of detail that was given to the title is absolutely stunning, and overall made for a great gameplay experience. If there's a downside to the game, is that sometimes the game gets SO big that managing the studio seems like an impossible task (this happens around that 40 to 50 year mark). Too many stars to deal with, too many lot issues … it'll sometimes drive you right up the wall and teach you amazing mouse dexterity (since you constantly have to click around at a second's notice). It's not a horrible experience, but one that I am sure some gamers will be turned off by. Nevertheless, there's so much that is good about the game, it's hard to pass up and comes highly recommended for purchase for PC gamers, movie buffs, and people that have always dreamed of making their own movies.