I was engrossed in the film...without really watching.
Before you can actually make movies, you must first build your own studio and run it from 1920 to the modern age. Yes, you can also just jump in the sandbox mode, but if you want to unlock anything, you have to play through the main mode at least once. For me, that was a bit of a problem. As in some tycoon simulation games this part of the game was rather boring and a real chore. It's pretty standard stuff: build facilities, sets... but the real pain were the "stars"... constantly nagging, getting addicted to food and alcohol, demanding trailers and entourage. Combine that with the maintenance required for all of your buildings to remain in use and the number of message alerts popping up all over the studio can get quite overwhelming. This sort of micromanagement can get pretty hectic and frustrating as your studio becomes bigger without really adding depth to the game - assuming that's what they were going for. Also worth mentioning that the game is fairly hard and even though I enjoy a challenge, I was expecting a lighthearted game and not having to sit and watch through the annual awards hardly ever winning something.
I played the main mode for about a week, but when I got to 1978. I just couldn't go on and decided to start making movies. That's when things began to get very disappointing. The game lets you believe it is much deeper and more complex than it actually is. In reality, it all boils down to placing one scene after another onto the film strip. The biggest flaw in the entire game (and an unforgivable one) is that you are unable to direct your movies. You cannot take control of the camera. It's a fully 3D game - was it such a problem to let the player take control of the camera and you know, direct the movie? There are some rare scenes that let you change angles and positions of the shot, but that just isn't enough.
I've had a few ideas but they were mostly relying on the visual aspect, not so much on the story. I guess I'm just kind of an artsy-fartsy guy and it seems Lionhead didn't have people like me on their minds when creating this game.
The post production is probably the most interesting part of the game; it allows you to cut scenes, add music, sound effects, subtitles and even your own voicework. You can make something really interesting if you put a lot of work and creativity into it, but not being able to direct is just unforgivable.
The graphics are good, but you won't find anything special here. The studio lot looks nice and colorful, but the character models could've used more detail - they all look pretty much the same and there's something about their expressions and movement... whether it's crying or running, all of it looks funny - great if you want to make comedy films, not so great if you'd like to make a serious film. The music is also very good, both in the sim mode and when making movies. As you're progressing through the game, the music changes to fit the age and the DJ's inform you of the "latest" news like the ending of World War II and such. It's a nice addition that helps to immerse you in the game a bit.
Like GameSpot's review suggests, this is really two games rolled into one - the tycoon simulation game and the movie maker, but the true problem is that they're both lacking. It's a great concept and I hope they build on it, but I'd scrap the sim part of the game altogether and focus on the movie maker. Maybe that way they would succeed on delivering what they initially promised - a deep, immersive game about creating films.