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1 Reviews

The Movies

Lionhead's movie studio sim proves Oscar-worthy as it delivers a cracking game

Do you know, I really can't remember the last time any game has so captivated my time, my imagination and my enthusiasm as much as The Movies. I think about it when I should be working. I think about it on the train on the way home. I think about it while staring into space on the lav. I think about it when I should be conversing with my wife over dinner. I'm even thinking about it now. I'm doing a lot of thinking is what I'm saying.

Why? Because it's the kind of game that lets you unleash your creative side in ways other than just finding cool new methods for killing people.


The Movies is about making films. You start by creating a studio lot, filling it with a
vast number of sets, hiring and firing your actors, directors, crew and studio staff, then putting them to work on film after film, hoping to release blockbuster after blockbuster, ultimately with the twin aims of making shitloads of cash and reaping armfuls of awards. Power, money and fame. It's the very fabric of life.

There are three methods for making films. The simplest is to set a team of one to five screenwriters at work on the genre of your choice, wait for them to craft a generic (yet often surreally funny) eraspecific script, then cast your stars and director, hire your crew and send them off to film it. You can watch as they go through each scene, or go back to running the studio. Then, once shooting is complete, you release the flick and wait for the reviews and money to pour in.

The challenges here are many. First, to make sure you choose genres that will appeal to the audience of the time ('real world' news stories flick by at the top of the screen or on the radio to give you hints as to the kinds of pictures the public are queuing to watch). Second, to make sure you choose the right mix of cast and crew - some are more suited to certain genres or have plentiful personal problems that need dealing with. And third, to keep the environment they work within in tip-top condition.

The second method for making a film is to get rather more hands-on with the production stage. You're still faced with the same managerial problems as before, but instead of just letting the crew get on with it, you can access each scene as it's being shot and influence the performance via a set of scene-specific sliders. Change a leading character's walk across a graveyard from nervous to sexy if you think it will work better for the overall scene.

It's slightly more involving and gives you a certain sense of control over the proceedings, but in essence it's just a taster for The Movies' main course - the advanced movie-making tools.


Build a custom scriptwriting office and you're basically given free reign to create anything your imagination can conjure up. Scenes are chosen from a huge store of options, from simple establishing shots, to intricate conversations between characters, to action-packed fight scenes.

The magic comes in the order you place them, the flexibility to customise each scene by adding actors, props, backdrops, extras and the aforementioned action sliders to further personalise the performances.

Add to that the post-production options for editing scenes, adding sound effects and even recording your own dialogue and having the actors lip-synch to your words. Lionhead is keen to stress that the moviemaking tools are more than just a simple sub-game within the larger managerial sim, but instead are pretty much the very core of The Movies, with the rest of the game playing second fiddle instead.

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