Review by Visual77

"Micromanagement Ahoy!"

I've long ago realized that I enjoy micromanagement far more than the average gamer. My favorite Star Wars game is the much lauded Rebellion, and I always turn off all the auto settings in Sim City and Civilization. This game caters very well to that side of my desires.

I can often find myself sitting down with this game for 6 hours and making no real progress anywhere, because I'm just editing salaries, making a custom movie script, examining my lots to see if I need more janitors or builders, and looking at all the stats of my stars and directors. Many people can't stand this, but if you're one of the rare breed that not only can tolerate this, but actually enjoy it, I'd recommend buying this game.

Graphics: 8/10

The graphics are nothing incredibly special, but they're great for what they are. Slightly stylized and simplistic enough that my computer (P4 2.4, 1gb Buffalo, MSI 865PE-Neo2, geForce 5600 Ultra) can handle it with hardly a hiccup. The interface is pretty well laid out, the only exception is I wish I had a better way to cycle through the different job types. When I want to assign both of my scriptwriters to a project, I have to cycle over to the scriptwriter tab, select one, drag them over to the office, and start over. I wish it would stay on the scriptwriter tab until I click away, and not default back to Stars as soon as I do something. The fact that these tabs aren't labeled is somewhat of a hassle when your first trying to find a new job type, but once you know what symbol matches what type(should only take one time, there aren't that many job types, and about half of them are pretty obvious), you're ok.

One amazing aspect of the graphics is the added StarMaker program. The only game I've seen rival this level of creative detail is The Sims 2. I created a friend of mine and my Star was spot on to this person. Adjusting every level of detail is amazingly well done.

Audio: 4/10

The sound of a building being competed, I swear I've heard that before. Oh yes, Black and White. The remaining sounds are at best not-annoying and at worst forgettable. There's nothing truly bad about the music, but nothing good either. The announcements themselves are pretty cool, whether that's random radio announcements or a doorbell and your secretary alerting you to a new actor at your doorstep looking for a job, but other than that, I can't even remember much of what I heard while playing.

Gameplay: 10/10

This is what this is all about, no doubt. Place your buildings, move your personnel around, create a custom movie with an immense level of control, send your best director into rehab cause she can't stop hittin the sauce, hard. There is so much to do and so little time to do it, you'll find yourself pausing the game for hours on end just to keep everything running, but boy do I love it.

I must stress however, that this is not for everyone. I've already stated that I'm more into micromanagement than most, and you should know if you are the same way. If you don't like Civilization or Sim City because you don't like having to control tens or hundreds of facets, do not buy this game, you will hate it.

You start off the game with a single office to create builders and janitors, and from there, your monopoly on the movie industry begins. You start off with a builder or two to make a casting office, then a crew office, production studio, scriptwriting office, movie sets, etc. You will see people walk up to these buildings with stats showing their experience levels(and in the case of actors, looks and physique as well), and you can decide who to hire and who to reject. Once you've got some screenwriters, drop them into the basic scriptwriting office and let them plug away at one of the five genres: Action, Comedy, Romance, Horror or Sci-Fi. Once you've got this script, put in some crew, actors, extras and a director to rehearse it, then start shooting. Once it's done shooting, release it and reap the profits. This is the basic structure you'll follow the whole time. However, once the crew is rehearsing, you can't just let your writers twiddle their thumbs, slam them onto the next script. By 1950, you'll be managing quite a few movies simultaneously, several will be filming, a few being written, one or two being rehearsed, and you have to keep track of all of them, while still making sure to pull films off release once they've stopped making money.

Then you get the custom scriptwriting studio. Now is when things get interesting. Make a custom movie, craft individual scenes by picking a set and what goes on(things like Soldiers Enter, Murder Scene, Drunk Ponders, Find Body, etc.), make it as long or as short as you'd like, and take this immensely custom script and begin the same process.

On top of managing who is doing what and what movies you've got, you also have to handle how your stars feel. A star may become an alcoholic and you've gotta send them to rehab, or generally dissatisfied with what's going on and you need to find a way to make them happy. Keep an eye on their relationships, you can't make a good movie when the lead actor and the director want to kill each other. There's so much to watch and keep track of, you'll either need a good memory or a notepad to make sure you don't make any horrible mistakes.

Replayability: 7/10

While it's fun to start over, the beginning isn't exactly what I'd call fun. It's that point in a game when micromanagement is essential, but there's not much to manage. I've enjoyed playing multiple times, but not as much as I enjoyed multiple runs on Starcraft or Super Smash Bros. Melee. It has replay potential, but not a whole lot.

Overall: 9/10

The game is fantastically fun, with all the things to watch and keep track of and the joy of doing it perfect, but the forgettable audio and only moderate replayability keep it from hitting a perfect 10.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 12/05/05

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