The Movies: One Step Closer to Hollywood

For anyone who's ever enjoyed a thoroughly terrible movie, the thought "I can do better than that!" must have crossed your mind at least once. Now you can set your mind at ease Lionhead Studios' game The Movies offers a fun experience for those aspiring to take a chance in Tinseltown.

Part of the game will be reminiscent of the tycoon game experience, as you play the manager and owner of your own movie studio. You decide what to build, what to do with your stars, who to hire, who to fire, how to lay out your property, what movies get made, who to cast in it, and anything else you can think of that a normal studio does, down to laying down the grass in all the right places. You'll open up the studio in the 1920s and gradually expand your studio and fight your way to the top of the rankings list for prestige and revenue. The movies you make will decide how much your studio will make from it, depending on their length, script size, actors, directors, crew, and the current events surrounding their release.

All the while, you must keep in mind the production costs and usual finances of hiring a load of people. The goal of course is to eventually be the top-ranked studio in town, raking in the stars, awards, and cash. Hiring is left completely up to you, from the janitor who picks up your trash, to the opposing rival star that litters your property. There is an excellent tutorial at the beginning of the game that teaches you the ins and outs of running your studio.

Separate from the business management is the movie-making process itself. While you can hire scriptwriters to just churn out scripts for you, you can also try your hand at making your own. It is here, in the movie-making tools, that the game really excels and becomes unique. Cast your actors and dress them appropriately for the scene (you will unlock more and more costumes, scenes, and sets as the game progresses), then pick out a scene from the multitudes there are to choose from. From there, you can fiddle with the lighting, the camera angles, the backdrop, the props, the mood of the scene, the reactions of the characters, and the environment effects among other things. Then, you can drag your movie into the post-production office where you can play around with editing scenes, the music, the sound effects, the title credits, and subtitles, if you wish to add them. If you have a microphone hooked up to your computer, you can even do your own voiceovers (try this one out with a few of your friends and see what you get). The movie maker is surprisingly easy to use, yet fantastically detailed in what you can do with it.

Unfortunately, all the painstaking detail you put into the movie will not matter much in terms of how the game views movie quality, as it only bases its decisions on script length, actor performances, novelty value, and overall crew experience, so spending long hours at the movie maker would really just be for your own enjoyment in creating movies. It is here that the game separates into more like two separate games one the tycoon aspect, and one the moviemaking aspect. In fact, there is a sandbox option for those who just want to make movies (although you will have to play normal mode to unlock more things). However, the game is worth it just for the fun movie maker mode.

The graphics look good, but for those spoiled by the detail and intricacies of Sims characters, The Movies character models will look unattractive by comparison. Besides that, though, there's nothing much to complain about. The game's ability to go from a bird's-eye view to a close-up with a simple mouse scroll makes it easy to jump from managing the studio lot to keeping an eye on a movie that's shooting on set. The game's varieties of soundtracks are also interesting without becoming annoying.

All in all, The Movies is a fun game to pick up for either the casual moviemaker or tycoon wannabe. As a bonus, if the game doesn't appreciate your finely crafted classic masterpiece of a movie, you can always share them online through the Lionhead Stuios site for your friends and the world to see.

For more information, visit The Movies site

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