|The Movies: Stunts and Effects (2006)
Available for: PC
If you’ll recall, last year I gave “The Movies” a five-star review and proclaimed it the best game of the year. Indeed, it was a colossal achievement for Lionhead Studios, who successfully broke the mold of the simulation genre by putting together a terrific title allowing players to create and run a movie studio and make tons of wacky movies through the decades that could be tweaked a million different ways. It really gave the gaming world something new to chew upon, and as every sim fan knows, it’s only a matter of time before his or her favorite title finally gets the expansion pack treatment.
And so it goes with “The Movies” and its first foray into expansion pack world, “Stunts & Effects.” Luckily, this first expansion is very successful and will have the game’s original fans back at their PCs spending way too much time inside once again. But this is a good thing, because too often expansion packs will be nothing but a new coat of paint and not much else. Since this is coming from Lionhead, though, you’d be hard pressed to find any team member there merely resting on their laurels happy to make a quick buck. Indeed, “Stunts & Effects” gives the players more than their average bang for the buck.
Installing this pack will automatically advance your movie studio to the 1960s, so you won’t have to sit through the early years of movie making all over again. This is a nice addition, and gives players some decent sets and effects to work with right out of the box. Of course, you’ll have a whole new set of cast members – the stuntmen themselves – to hire and train. Like all the other actors in “The Movies,” the stuntmen gradually get better at what they do by practicing and working on roles they are best suited to. The still-great in-game tutorial will show you the steps at hiring and putting a stuntman through his paces. He’ll fail his first time out, but no worries, as he’ll certainly get better as time goes on and his experience grows.
Amongst the new sets included in this expansion pack is a small city that will allow everyone who ever wanted to make their own Godzilla thriller finally have their chance at crashing around urban neighborhoods dressed up in oversized costumes. There are also a whole lot of aliens, flying saucers and the like to terrorize the scenery as well. In short, it’s a whole lot of fun and breathes great new life into a title that hasn’t even begun to age yet. But it doesn’t stop there, of course. There are car explosions, people flying out of windows, helicopter action, and much, much more.
Add to this the addition of green screens and a new free camera system that allows armchair directors new panning styles and angles, and you have even more to cheer about. The camera also has new additions that allows players to do all those cool “binocular”-looking shots, as well as all sorts of different glass designs, like wet and muddy to add even more of a movie essence to the proceedings. It’s an all-around nice pack of things that just couldn’t be packed into the already great core game when it was first released.
The graphics and sound look fantastic yet again, and players will once again be immersed into the thrill of movie making. If there are any complaints to be had here, it’s that the stuntmen are just as susceptible to all the crap that the other actors are. Indeed, they’re only “human,” but sometimes those human tendencies tend to prevent the stuntmen from being all that they can be and not always nailing a stunt when they should. But this is minor. Fans of “The Movies” will have a lot to explore and enjoy here. While “Stunts & Effects” may not cater to every moviemaker’s tastes, it’s an expansion pack that will keep the main game going for quite some time until the next one comes along.