by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Hot game? Sexy name
When Peter Molyneux left Bullfrog to found Lionhead Studios, just about everyone in the gaming industry agreed on two things. 1. Bullfrog's days were numbered. 2. Lionhead was likely to produce some of the most innovative games in the years to come. I can't recall any official announcements of the fact, but Bullfrog is no more. That part of the predictions has come true already. With Black & White, its recent sequel and Fable, Molyneux's company has proven already that they're capable of forward thinking and are able to apply existing concepts in new and surprising ways. So that part of the prediction (arguably) came true as well. Today we look at Lionhead's newest title called The Movies and see how it ranks among the other games from the same stable.
I've heard some pretty cramped descriptions of the game but we can be fairly simple. This is Hollywood Tycoon with a catchier name. Before you decide it is not for you though, give me a chance to convince you that it's worth considering spending your cash on!
In the beginning
Upon starting the game you're put into the shoes of a movie entrepreneur that has just discovered this odd new technology that lets you show photographs on a white screen so fast that it appears people are moving! You decide to become a movie pioneer and open your own studio. After setting up some basic sets and offices, hiring crew and your first stars-to-be, you're in business. Before you know it, the Action!'s and Cut!'s will start bombarding your ears.
Running a movie studio seems easy at first but soon you'll start running into a number of problems. You'll need to hire actors, directors, crew, extras, janitors and builders who maintain your sets and other buildings. The majority of your employees won't bother you that much and will do their work as required. Your stars (actors and directors) however, need rest, a way to de-stress, perhaps a comfy trailer to relax, good relationships with other stars and also with the press. As you progress in time and your stars become more popular, they also become more demanding. That cozy little trailer you bought them? Be prepared to upgrade it every now and then, they'll get jealous of other stars with newer models. Stars also want to feel important and what better way to do that than assigning them an assistant? And all this just to keep them happy. You might be wondering why bother?
The making of...
It's simple really. Happy stars make better movies. Early in the game that effect might not be all that dramatic as you'll have one star per movie but over time your cast will increase and if you don't take care of your stars, each unhappy one will adversely affect the quality of your movie. Happy stars also have a better chance to rise to fame and more fame means more chance of movies becoming successful.
Your stars' happiness isn't the only thing that will affect how your movie will do at the box office though. Each time a picture is released a list of things that have had an influence during but also production is shown along with a final rating. Your current technology, the quality of the script, the popularity of the genre, the experience of the cast and director, the amount of marketing and release budget and even the synergy between the actors all play a role in how your movie will be perceived.
When it comes to box office success, you shouldn't discount the era you're in either. The attitude towards certain movie genre's changes with the times, often kick started by big events lick stock market crashes, war and moon landings. Events put the audience into a mood for a particular genre and releasing a movie at the right time makes a big difference. Radio newscasts will inform you of what is happening in the world and it's up to you to anticipate what this will mean to your business. If everything falls into place and there are a lot of positive influences, your movie will start raking in the cash and become a hit. If not, it will sink into mediocrity.
Not your grannies' movie
Did I mention technology there? I guess I did. Obviously technology in the early 1920's when the game starts is very basic. The novelty of movies will make people come and see your movies regardless so early on it's not so hard to make some cash. Soon you will have earned enough that you'll have placed every available set and supporting building and you'll run out of new ideas.
The research laboratory will solve that problem for you. With time and effort new sets, props, buildings and other items will become available and slowly you'll research yourself into more recent times. Research also opens up new clothing that better fits the era you're in and your stars will start complaining and loose some of their fame. Even if research isn't much of a hands-on experience, (you simply drop scientists into the right research department) its results keep the game fresh and exciting by opening up new and more interesting ways to do things. Wait until you get the Cosmetic Surgery tech for instance, and see how your old and run down stars go from 58 to 34 years old in no time. Suddenly you can use them for those romantic roles again!
No Pros and Cons at this time