The movies had the potential of being an extremely interesting game... if it was only possible to play it well.

User Rating: 9 | The Movies PC
It may just be me, but when a game displays as much depth and as many possibilities as The Movies, it makes me want to play it well, conjure up solutions to complex problems, and heck, even micromanage my way to success if necessary. The Movies is an extremely interesting and utterly complex, but it is also the most frustrating experience I've ever had to endure.

The Movies attempts to simulate the experience of running a big Hollywood studio. It entails hiring actors and directors, building sets and production offices, churning out scripts and filming them, and developing new technologies and genres to introduce to your audience - all the while trying to appease both your staff and your moviegoers and stay ahead of all the other studios operating out there. It tries to simplify and abstract the movie-making process so that it can be done on a home PC within a few minutes (and I'm not talking about creating customized movies yet). Unfortunately, when it all boils down to it, this game ends up being all about micro-managing your employees and your studio - an extremely difficult task which the game deliberately makes too hard to perform.

Your actors and directors, for some reason, appear to live on the studio lot - you need to buy them trailers and cars, give them things to do in their spare time, and so forth. It's The Sims, where instead of a house you've got a motion picture studio and the characters are constantly at work. This can sound very nice, until you realize that with the emotionally-unstable Sims you need to manage here, and the absolute deficiency in proper tools with which to do so, it can become an absolute nightmare.

Your employees will throw tantrums, demand pay raises, drink themselves to death, complain constantly, and all you can do is to frantically ferry them back and forth between the various facilities on your studio lot to try and balance out their emotional statistics before ever placing them in a position where they need to finish a movie before the year is out. To make matters worse, the year is out in a few minutes, and no amount of pausing the game will let you handle all of the arising situations with any degree of adequacy. The game is designed so that as your employees get better at movie-making, your job of managing them becomes more and more difficult - to the point where the movie-making process is all about making sure they don't flip out.

This stands in stark contrast to the amount of tools you have in your disposal for actually creating movies. It seems like the game gives you all the options in that regard, but actively encourages you not to use them if you want to have any spare time/patience left to make sure that those movies can be made at all. There is a lot of automation regarding the act of writing scripts and building new sets, and virtually none when it comes to inter-personal relationships between your Sims or even their daily lives. Babysitting them will eat up all your energy.

Personally, I only started really enjoying this game after spending some time tweaking the game files (this takes a lot of effort to master, no tools) so that it becomes possible to make movies without going insane in the process. This still required me to do a lot of unpleasant micro-management, but it was at least tolerable enough to allow me to enjoy making movies, which (when buying the game) I thought would be the whole point.

Oh right, this is the part where I have to say something about everything else in this game, like the movie-making tools and the sheer freedom of the imagination this game offers. Well that gets a 10 from me, I don't know what else I could say about it - it's one of the most powerful machinima tools that do not require any sort of expertise of any kind - just an imagination. It is absolutely that powerful. But yeah, for that you'll need to use the sandbox mode - making good movies during the "regular" game is... frustrating at best.