The Movies Updated Impressions

We attempt to make a family-friendly horror movie with Lionhead's upcoming movie-themed tycoon game.

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At a recent Activision press event in the UK, we took a look at the PC version of Lionhead Studios' The Movies. The version of the game on display was similar to the one from E3, but we did get to see a few new features in action.

As with previous demonstrations of the game, our tour of The Movies began with the commissioning of a new motion picture, achieved primarily by selecting one of eight genres, a director, and a number of actors. The actors chosen this time around included Bruce Campbell, Clint Eastwood, and Drew Barrymore, but it's worth noting that the retail version of the game will not feature real names. Child actors will also not appear in the game, so while it'll be possible for you to nurture and follow your favorite actors' careers in the game for many years, the earliest footage you're ever likely to see of them will be in a movie they started filming on their 21st birthday.

Unsurprisingly, actors have a major role to play in The Movies, and while big names will go a long way to ensuring strong sales at the box office, big egos could also end up costing you a fortune. The longer a movie takes to make, the more it will cost, and so if your biggest stars start throwing tantrums, turning up drunk, or refusing to work until they get a more luxurious trailer, your budgets may spiral out of control. We did get to see a few inebriated stars staggering around the film studio on occasion, but since none of them were required for our custom-made motion picture, Residential Evil, we didn't get to see any of the ways in which it might be possible to lure them back to the film set when production is at a standstill. We did get a brief insight into how their minds work, though--in some cases, these characters' speech bubbles say one thing, while their thought bubbles betray what they're really thinking. Looking after your actors is going to be a very demanding task indeed.

Our movie essentially started out as a family-friendly version of Evil Dead until we started toying with the slider bar that controlled the level of violence in a scene outside the requisite log cabin. On the lowest setting, our heroine attempted to rescue her boyfriend from his undead assailant using a catapult from the boot of her car, while sliding the bar a bit to the right (to a more-violent setting) replaced the catapult with a shotgun for the second take, and cranking the violence up to maximum for our final take changed the shotgun to a bazooka. We weren't actually able to produce our own movie trailer, but we were shown one that the development team had prepared earlier, and it's obvious that, with the right camera angles, soundtrack, and voice-over, it'll be possible to create some professional-looking results. That said, we were told today that the current design for the game will allow players to create minimovies rather than just trailers, although the new feature has not been implemented at this time. The Movies is currently scheduled for release sometime in 2004 for the PC, PS2, Xbox, and GameCube.

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