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The Movies

Lionhead Studios creates a fun movie mogul sim, while giving wannabe Spielbergs the chance to make their masterpieces.

Lionhead studios attempts to bring the magic of the movies to the small screen, the PC. The Movies gives players the power to build their own movie studio and make their own films.

The Movies has two modes of play. Players can start a sandbox game with no objectives, just live out your own dreams of running your movie studio. The second is a goal based single player trek through time.

The single player mission starts off in the 1920’s era of film making. You begin with a few bucks and early twentieth century film technology. Wannabe actors start lining up at your door.

Players must hire studio maintenance and construction crew, along with writers, extras, and directors. The amount of staff you can maintain is an economic juggling act. The more successful your actors the more money and luxuries they demand.

Actors and Directors come with some experience in the five different genres of film: action, comedy, horror, romance, and sci-fi. Players must train and develop their actors into talented, pretentious success stories. Developing the relationships between actors and directors, and training them in the sets you build on your lot will increase their experience and worth.

You want to make a Meg Ryan? Stick her in a comedy or romance set to hone her skills. How about a Tara Reid? Give her a boob job in your cosmetic surgery center and skip the acting lessons all together.

When it comes to making the movies you can let the computer generate a script by sticking screenwriters in a genre room, or you can make a script on your own by using the game’s script creation building.

The movies the computer generates are simple and don’t have any dialogue. They are also extremely lame and incoherent. Players can build movie scripts scene by scene. For instance, the intro can be a few scenes, followed by the problem scene, and top it off with a resolution scene.

The tools The Movies give us to make movies are pretty robust, although at times it is hard to keep scenes looking cohesive if you don’t keep track of costumes and the actors. Also, it’s not intuitive in creating some of the scenes. The movie making portion of the game was what I was looking forward too, but after using it I stuck with the computer generated scripts. Later on you can add sound, voice and all the other bells and whistles of current day movies through research and time elapse.

Building your studio is important to keeping everyone happy. Actors and directors want their trailers near the sets, so they don’t have to walk their pampered behinds all over the place.

You can keep everyone happy with raises, better trailers, giving the talent entourages, and pampering your stars with big paychecks.

After you release a movie, an information screen informs players of experience gained by staff in the process. The next screen shows the acclaim of your movie from critics. Critics’ comments are clues to the player in how to make your next movie better.

After awhile during the single player campaign, award ceremonies occur similar to the Oscars. The more rewards you win the closer you get to unlocking new studio buildings and bonuses to help you conquer the movie mogul world and defeat your rivals.

You can save all the movies you create in windows media player format. When you register the game, players can upload their masterpieces to The Movies website. I could never do this because I couldn’t connect using my registration code. I emailed Activision several times before this review to resolve the problem, but wasn’t able to connect to The Movies upload site.

The actual building of the studio game interface is pretty easy to get around and use. The only real problem I had was identifying who I wanted to pickup because of the objects obstructing the camera. I wanted an option to clear everything except the bases of the building like in Sims, which would have made navigation of the studio easier.

The Movies is a great attempt at a different type of management game. The movie making portion wasn’t as impressive as I’d hoped, but it is a powerful tool for budding machinima directors. If you want to live out your movie mogul dreams, pick up The Movies.

Review by Jared Gooch.

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