PC REVIEW: THE MOVIES
The Movies
Incredible detail
Creative
User friendly interface
Could there actually be too much to do?
In a world...where games become movies and movies become games, would anyone ever expect "The Movies: The Movie" or the inevitable "The Movies: The Movie - The Official Game of the Movie Based On the Blockbuster Game"? . by Cole Smith

November 29, 2005 - The Movies is a combination economic sim and movie creator/editor. If you're familiar with the Tycoon series PC games you'll feel right at home here.

Creating your own movies is a whole lot of fun but it's not imperative to complete the game. The gameplay has a economic sim core in which you oversee the day-to-day operations of a movie studio, much the same way you would manage an amusement park, zoo, mall, resort or casino as in the Tycoon series of economic strategy games. In The Movies you will be responsible for hiring actors, crews, writers and other employees to assist you with the movie-making process. The game begins in the 1920s and follows the development of filmmaking through the silent film to talkies, color, 3D and beyond. The bottom line is always to turn a profit so when things aren't looking too rosy, it's time to shake things up.

Before you begin making a movie you have to develop a screenplay. You can choose to write it yourself or you can hire professionals. It will of course cost you money to hire someone. You must do some research to see what genre of movie is popular at the time. It's hard to be innovative as the gameplay is based on perceived market trends and your ability to manipulate them to your advantage.

A crew must be hired to take care of everything from cleaning toilets to constructing sets. You will also have to hire actors and a director. Actors with high profiles are likely to do better box office than unknowns but you also run the risk of dealing with incredibly inflated egos. Popular actors are in a position to ask for more money, a better trailer and may even end up arguing with the director causing unnecessary tension on the set. This trouble manifests itself as stress and can be damaging to the production as it may send some of the talent to seek chemical solace which can mean a lengthy stay in rehab which will really cause the budget to soar. Bet you didn't think that making a movie could be such a pain in the ass?

Fortunately the game will give you assistance with many of your projects at the outset until you get the hang of all of it. There are lots of things to remember and the situations that occur in one department can have serious repercussions in another area of production. The pace is all up to you. You can do one movie every virtual year or try to cram in five or six to make more money faster. You can't always afford to tie up all your capital in every project so you'll have to juggle employees around to tend to various movies and sets which will require different production schedules for each movie. You can cut a few corners here and there but if you end up using the same sets for too many movies you will begin to lose your audience in the theaters. Sometimes all you have to do to turn a dud into a blockbuster is add some expensive-looking sets. Hey, if you can't sell a turd, try wrapping a shiny bow around it. Don't forget to "Alan Smithee" it.

Movie-making/editing software is included and although it's not a required component of the gameplay it will give you hours of entertainment. First of all you don't have to go out and shoot your own scenes. Pre-rendered scenes are included and there are lots of them. You can pick and choose the characters that appear in each scene and then choose the background so that it will fit into the genre, whether it be horror, sci-fi, comedy or Western. Various emotions and actions can be assigned to your characters to act out the scene according to your direction. You can even use your own voiceovers to create your own dialog.

All you have to do is drag and drop each scene on a timeline in any order you choose and then access the interface for a variety of command options. As you might expect most of the movies will have a generic, amateur quality to them but practice makes perfect. Movies can be uploaded online to be viewed and reviewed by other potential Spielbergs. This should give you the incentive you need to be creative. +

The musical selection is vast, spanning more than three-quarters of a century. You'll hear ragtime, big band, rock and roll, symphony and even a little porno-tinged background music complete with requisite 70s wah-wah pedal.

Having originally covered this game back in 2002, we were wondering if such an ambitious sim would ever see the light of day. As it turns out The Movies is a flexible and fun experience which can be overwhelming at times but always manages to entertain. You can play through all of the missions which attempts to tie in the movie-making software or you can just freestyle it with either component, letting your imagination be your guide. I wish the two elements could have been more strongly linked, but as it is this is arguably one of the most entertaining and educational economic sims of it kind.

Rating out of 5
The Movies (PC)
4.5
Graphics
Taking the graphics and the overall presentation into account, The Movies captures the essence of Hollywood, warts and all.
4.0
Control
The control will overwhelm you at first but once you get a bead on where everything is, it's quite a user friendly interface.
4.6
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Since the aural aspect of the movies is largely used for creating the pictures, it suits the subject matter to a proverbial "t".
4.6
Play Value
What could be better than being a movie mogul? Liquid lunches, eager starlets, expense accounts...oh wait, those aren't in the game. But everything else is as accurate as we can only imagine (since we've never been movie moguls)
4.6
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PC
Dev: Lionhead Studios
Pub: Activision
Release: Nov 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best