Monday, April 24, 2006

The Movies Post-Mortem

[Now Experiencing] [Computer Gaming]

Ugh, three posts already today. Okay, I'll make this quick.

It being two weeks since I last booted the sucker up, I'm now willing to admit that I'm probably not returning to playing The Movies any time soon. I paid full price, got a total game experience of probably 10 hours, and I really can't even advance the argument that at least those ten hours were a top-shelf experience.

Don't get me wrong - it was a great idea for a game, and the "make your own movie" bit was better realised than my highest practical expectations. But ultimately, just like every other game ever created by Peter Molyneaux or Lionhead, it was a product with an awe-inspiringly unique and ambitious concept jammed into a sub-par implementation suffering from a variety of technical and gameplay faults.

Take my game experience. I mean, in eighty years of film studio operation, I get maybe a total of 20 people wanting jobs. Despite the fact that I'm rolling in cash I can't keep my sets together because I can't get a repair guy for love or money - never mind that I'd be willing to pay them wages that would make my stars green with envy. The game stutters badly and regularly no matter what I do to my graphical settings, and the online "screen your movies and view those of others" component is set out with no real thought given to the practicalities of finding genuine quality in amongst the dross.

The act of actually making a movie in-game feels shallow as creating your masterpiece has no real effect on your progress through the standard game, and yet the sandbox mode where you get to go nuts with what's arguably the game's centerpiece requires you to have completed said standard game to have all the features available. And I don't know, but having to regularly instruct my entire cast to "drink yourselves happy" between each and every scene of a movie in order to get top results just doesn't feel right.

Props to Molyneaux et al on once again daring to go where no designer has gone before; but would it kill you to take a few lessons from Blizzard or Konami on how to deliver a polished well-considered final product that actually achieves the gameplay and atmosphere that it's aiming for?

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