The Movies review


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Buy your copy from The Movies (2005) starstarstarstarstar Publisher: Activision
Category: Strategy/Sim
Available for: PC
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Must… stop… playing. Fresh air… good. No! Must keep trying to be the greatest B-movie producer of all time! And I’ll do it, dammit. Thanks to Lionhead Studios’ most excellent game, “The Movies,” the thrills of movie making and all its drama are anyone’s for the asking. This is undoubtedly the best PC game of 2005, if not the best video game of the year all around. It’s a sim experience that puts “The Sims 2” and the original “The Sims” and all their expansion packs combined to shame.

It’s nice to finally have a game as addictive as “The Sims” but with something to actually do. Oh, sure, there are things to achieve in that franchise, but nothing so fulfilling and emotionally involving as building your very own movie studio and being able to control every facet of the production, from scriptwriting and casting all the way down to post-production, which allows you to tweak your films as well as add voice-overs. How can that not be cool?

Well it’s very cool, and the fact that Lionhead got it all to work so perfectly is amazing. There have been so many games through the years, usually of the “Tycoon” style, that allow you to take control of properties and design and run them, but none have ever come close to the all-engrossing fun that is “The Movies.” It’s quite a thrill to start work in the ‘20s, and go through the decades as new developments and processes are learned in the business and just have it all be so downright thrilling.

It’s mind-blowing what you can do with this game. A short list includes creating actors and directors, builders and janitors for the studio lots, scientists to discover new filmmaking trends and techniques, screenwriters to create the screenplays if you don’t want to try your hand at it yourself, and so much more. There’s building sets, having an on-site bar and restaurant, as well as a rehab center in case any of your stars get addicted to too much food or drink, a makeover department, a plastic surgeon, trailers for the stars to relax in, entourages to follow the stars around, paparazzi to snap pictures, awards ceremonies, radio DJs, and the list goes on.

Creating your own screenplays is a blast in itself. You get to choose a genre and who’s going to star in your feature, and then put scenes together from a huge selection. You can even go in and tweak the selections by adjusting camera angles, close ups, you name it. And if all this sounds like it would be incredibly hard, I guarantee you this game is easier than any of the “Sims” games right out of the box. One of the best and most clear-cut in-game tutorials has been produced for “The Movies.” You won’t even have to crack the instruction manual, unless you want to. During the game, you can also set the in-game help to as little or as much as you like, which always gives helpful hints as to how to make your studio and productions even better.

It’s hard not to be completely impressed with this game. My studio is called Shit Machine and has cranked out such terrific fare as "LSD Is For Satan," "Puking Is Fun," and even "Count Suck Comes to Town," to name but a few. Aliens invade, zombies roam the streets, murders are committed, people fall in love, armies are defeated, and monsters rule the day. Whatever you want to happen in these features can happen. Create a horror flick, a romance, an action movie, a comedy, or a sci-fi thriller. Watch as your actors get pissy during productions and want to go off binge drinking, or sulk off to their trailers that they feel aren’t adequate enough for the super egos. Thrill to watching your studio jump the number one slot over all the others and your movies top the charts. It’s just simply breathtaking what all goes on in “The Movies.”

There have been other groovy games that have been released this year, but if there’s only one that is a must-own title, “The Movies” is it. Anyone can sit down and enjoy this game right from the start. The music, graphics, and animations are all really superb, but it’s that game play – the most important thing of all in any game – that shines brightest here, and will keep players glued to their seats. Lionhead Studios and Activision should be extremely proud of this title, as it shows that a lot of time and care went into its production. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go fire a couple drunk actors and get working on my next blockbuster.

~Jason Thompson