More than just some extra props and animations for The Movies movie-making game, Activision’s expansion pack Stunts and Effects adds another interesting aspect to an already solid game. The Quick Start game, available from the main menu, gets you quickly into the new content with a nice “take you by the hand” tutorial. If you haven’t played The Movies in some time, this tutorial’s bubbles and commentary will quickly remind you how deep the gameplay in The Movies really is.
The Sim Portion
Just as in the original outing, you’ve got your actors, crew, maintenance team, writers and other categories of people at your disposal, only now a “stuntman” option has been added. Like with the actors and other staff, the stuntmen all have pictures and extended details, which you can review prior to making your choice of which to hire. Stuntmen get hired by lining up at the Training Facility, which you build, to prepare them.
The stuntman’s main attributes are Skill and Condition. Pushing your stuntman to do more difficult stunts than their skills can handle may result in injury or a poorly performed stunt, which can have a negative affect on your movie’s overall success.
Everything throughout the game concerning the creation of a movie now has a little helmet in the corner, which signals the types of stunts that will be required. Once you have your cast and crew together, you can watch the filming start, which now (thanks to the stunts) is more entertaining.
Although the Quick Start tutorial is very well done, it did bug out on us and got stuck in a repeating loop. Whether we did anything to cause this we can’t be sure, but we are sure that we couldn’t get it to stop asking us to drop a writer onto a script.
The Moving Making Portion
When we got past that bug, at long last we had the freedom to move the camera, albeit in a somewhat limited fashion. You’re only given a start and end location for the camera in any given animation, which still leaves much to be desired for aspiring cinematographers who want to move the camera in artistic ways. Ironically, the start and end locations are numbered 1 and 2 in their boxes, which gives the impression you can add more positions. Unfortunately, we were unable to do so.
Camera overlays have been added for distortion and binocular/sniper-view effects, and new blue screen sets have been added to better mix custom backgrounds. The blue screens also contain miniature models of vehicles and spacecraft, which you can move around to do chase scenes and distant shots. Another set that is great fun to play with is the miniature city. Godzilla fans can re-create some of their favorite childhood scenes.
Having a stuntman pinch hit for your better-looking and better-performing actor is the norm with Stunts and Effects, so a “View Double” button is available in the makeover screen. This button lets you review your main star and his or her stunt double to make sure you can pull-off a convincing switch in mid-scene.
The advanced moviemaker is still a relatively simple and restricted program. The ability to animate your own characters or make your own textures would have made it an incredibly powerful tool, but the developers have yet to do that. What they omit in complexity, though, they make up for in content; in addition to stunt props and animations, numerous other goodies can be found buried in the moviemaker.
What you get with The Movies: Stunts and Effects is cool, but still not powerful enough to be used by a hobbyist movie-maker like myself. If you enjoyed the original game this expansion is well worth the price of admission, but if you didn’t enjoy it this expansion isn’t going to redeem the game for you.
- Overall: 8
- The choice on this one is simple: buy it if you liked the original, but don’t bother if you were only lukewarm to it.
— Robert Dusseau