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The Movies

The Movies, by Lionhead Studio, tries to be both a game and a movie maker, and thus disapoints in both regards.

In the game, you build your own movie studio, purchase sets, hire actors, directors, crews and scriptwriters, and try to make and publish movies. If you played any of those Sim or Tycoon games (e.g. SimCity, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Sim Hospital, etc.), then you'll know exactly what to expect from the game play. Staying afloat is very easy in this game, as every movie I made effortlessly earned 20 times what it cost to produced them. The difficulty comes in reaching goals. The game will tell you, for example, "make 5 movies with a rating of 2 stars or greather", or "win 2 academy awards". This is tough, because the quality of the movies your studio produces depends a lot on the mood of the actors and directors, and they tend to be very tempermental. Quite frankly, dealing with their temper tantrums just isn't fun.

That's a big problem with this game, actually. A lot of it just plain isn't fun. When you start having a large number of buildings (a western bar set, a desert set, a space ship set, a dank basement set, etc.), you need to hire a lot of maintenance people to keep the buildings in working order. Except the game places a hard limit of like 10 builders. Why? I have no idea. Terrible design decision. So after a certain point, no one will show up requesting a job as a builder, even if you're willing to pay a 6 figure salary. My studio ended up in a state of constant disarray, with everything falling apart. I had to repair my sets right before shooting them, because it simply was impossible to keep everything in working order all the time.

The interface is also very poorly designed. You have to actually physically locate whatever you want to use on the map, and click on it. If you're not familiar with games, it might seem natural that you have to "find" something or someone before using it, but usually in games you have a control panel with a bunch of buttons to quickly access idle resource. Think about it: If you own a movie studio with 50 plus sets, and one of the toilets breaks down, are you gonna run around looking for an idle handyman, or are you gonna whip out your cellphone, call the head of the maintenance department, and tell them to send someone over?

Okay, fine, the game itself sucks. For this software is also marketted as a movie-making program. I think Lionhead wanted to cash in on the big craze of Machimina that's going around these days. Unfortunately, the movie-making aspect really is a big toy. You can't directly control what your actors do. Rather, there's a collection of scenes where the actors do a specific action (e.g. arguing, kissing, shooting, etc.) and you pick which ones you want, and what order you want them to occur in. You can't change the camera angle; you can't place the actors in a different position. Essentially you can only make the movies that fall within the variety that the designers preconceived of. The music editing is a joke. You essentially drag and drop songs onto a timeline. You can't cut a song short, so if the song is 5 minutes long, and you only want 30 seconds of it to play for this one kissing scene, too bad.

I really can't recommend this game to anyone. It isn't fun, and it isn't useful. I'm not gonna bother giving a rating either, because does it really matter whether it gets a 1 out of 10 or a 4 out of 10? Just don't buy this game.

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