Review by pie_man00

Reviewed: 07/31/06

The Movies had a lot of potential, but fails to deliver.

It’s The Sims, crossed with Windows Movie Maker, but better. On paper, The Movies looks like the best idea since sliced bread. Unfortunately, when the idea is put into practice, it clearly isn’t. So what’s it all about? Well, you start off in the early 1920’s as a new movie producing company, kind of similar to any other recent Tycoon games. The objective of the game is to develop your company as time progresses until it’s rivalling all the others in the business. Earn money, hire staff, make movies, receive awards etc. There’s a lot of fun to be had along the way, and lots of not-so-fun.

The Movies looks good at first glance. Zooming out from your lot can reveal that there’s plenty of detail and quite often no slowdown, even when you’ve got people running about doing errands, scenery placed neatly, and buildings of all different shapes and sizes. Zooming in can show what this game’s really made of. Characters look OK, a fair bit of detail on their faces, nice-enough looking clothing. Nothing particularly special, but it’ll do. The buildings look a bit iffy, as does the scenery (tress, plants, cars etc.). There’s a background on display, and it looks awful. Whenever I’m taking a look around the place, I always seem to have an ugly looking mountain range distracting me. Very annoying. Aside from all this, it’s all standard stuff. Nothing ground breaking, nothing that’ll make you go ‘WOW’, either. Trying to navigate through the game’s menus can be a pain at times, too. Clicking on a character will open up endless menus and submenus, which can be a bit intimidating to newer players.

The Movies’ sound isn’t all that bad. When your cast and crew are off shooting scenes for your latest blockbuster, you’ll hear lines such as ‘Action!’ when they start and ‘That’s a wrap!’ when they’re finished. It’s a nice little touch. There’ll be the option to turn off the radio in the main menu, too. ‘What’s this’, you wonder? As you’re playing the game, there’ll be a radio playing some nice little tunes for you to hum along to. Occasionally, the radio presenter will say a few lines, sometimes even commenting on things happening in the game, such as ‘There’s a new movie studio opened up down by the beach,’ or ‘People are eagerly anticipating this year’s movie awards show.’ Not a bad little inclusion into the game. All in all, sound is one of the The Movies best aspects. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I’m not sure.

In a way, The Movies gameplay is split into two sections; Movie-Making, and Company Management. I’ll begin with the former first.

So, you’ve been playing the game for a good 30 minutes or so, hiring your directors, stars, extras, builders, handymen, placing down buildings etc. and you’re asking yourself when the movie-making will start. Eventually, you’ll received a finished script from your script office. Huzzah! Finally, I can make my ten-minute blockbuster. But wait, you can’t. Remember, this is the 20’s. At the moment, you can’t do anything other than tell your crew to make the movie. So, off they go. After a few minutes, they’re done! Send the finished movie out for release, and you have the option to view it yourself! Press the play button on the movie-viewer, and...oh dear. What you have is 2, maybe 3 scenes of badly assembled film. There’ll be a character, cheesy music playing, someone will fall over and the credits roll. After releasing this monstrosity (which is usually named in the most irrelevant ways), you’ll come under fire from the critics, and rightly so. After about 5 of these awful films, it begins to pick up. You’ll get a hard-earned Custom Script Office, and the game finally gets going. Name your movie, lay down some scenes, put in your own subtitled script which will appear in time with your carefully planned out scenes. When you’re done, send it off for release and watch the cash rake in. Every 4 years, there’s a Movie Awards show that takes place, which pits your company against your rivals to see who has earned the most awards. It’s a good addition, but waiting for the only interesting thing that takes place during the game is tiring, especially as the game’s time-frame moves at a snail’s pace. So, you’ve made your first box office smash. Now what? Make another one, of course. Then another. And another, and another... The Movies, sadly, suffers from gaming’s greatest foe; repetition.

And finally, the company management. At the beginning of the game, you’re given a reasonably large amount of space to build your studios. This soon fills up, though, and you’ll realise the mistakes you’ve made when it takes your crew what seems like an eternity to travel from building to building. There are many different buildings at your disposal, such as script office, makeover department for your stars, casting office, pre-production studio etc. After placing your buildings where you want them, they need to be built. So hire some hopefuls lined up outside your company walls and make them either a builder, who’ll build your buildings, or a handyman of sorts, who’ll clean up the paths within your studio. Unfortunately, after hiring half a dozen builders because you’ve put down your first few buildings, when there isn’t anything to be built, they’ll just stroll about doing nothing. Not a major problem until you find out your buildings contain an upkeep factor. This means your buildings start to ‘wear away’ after a while, but your builders won’t do a thing unless you tell them to. Aside from all this, there’s your cast and crew that need to be looked after. They have Sims-esque ‘needs’ meters, such as socialising and boredom. Nice, but like The Sims this can get tedious after a while. There are other little inclusion such as them becoming addicted to alcohol, which means they must be sent to re-hab, or making your stars into a couple so as to hit the front page of the papers. I found these to be most welcome, and a nice break from everything else which just brought the game down.

Final Verdict:
The Movies looked so good on paper, and had so much potential considering its surrounding hype, but the finished product, sadly, doesn’t cut it. For those still interested in what the game does have to offer, however, go for it, as there are many things here well worth a look. Sadly, the bad far outweighs the good, which is a real shame too. There’s an expansion pack released which looks like it contains some nice extras, but if it’s anything like the original, I’d stay away.


Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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