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The Movies Review

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An addictive movie studio sim with great touches.

★★★★

There was a time when breaking into the film business required rich parents, stellar connections or morals loose enough to shag your way to the top. These days, all budding movie moguls need is a top-end PC.

A complex life simulator from Peter Molyneux’s Lionhead Studios — the brains behind sublime god game Black & White: The Movies casts the player as chief of an upstart film studio, challenging you to cultivate the biggest movie machine in Hollywood and even dabble in direction to create your own blockbusters.

The management side of the game will be familiar to fans of titles such as Rollercoaster Tycoon, with players hiring studio staff, casting big-name actors and building sets to create their own celluloid classics. Naturally, driving a film from concept to completion is a process fraught with problems — from diva actresses who’ll throw a strop if they’re not happy with their trailer, to developing new special-effect techniques to make sure there are plenty of bums of seats when it comes to distribution — making for a deep and rewarding experience that will keep you hanging on for just ten more minutes well into the small hours of the morning.

The game’s unique selling point is that it actually allows you to get creative and make your own movies; using a selection of pre-built shots based on popular themes such as horror, sci-fi and action, players can drag film segments onto a timeline and assemble their own narratives, also tinkering with the lighting, camera angles and dialogue to construct surreal sequences that can be posted and shared on the internet.

The action is flawed as the moviemaking and management elements feel like two separate games — rather than being integrated into a dynamic whole — but The Movies is still a charming and addictive sim, quite unlike anything else on the shelves today.