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Genre: Simulation    Expansion For: The Movies
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: Intel @ 1600 MHz    RAM: 512 MB    Hard Disk: 500 MB    DVD-ROM    Graphics: 64 MB VRAM

The Movies: Stunts & Effects
June 24, 2008 | Joseph Cadotte

Click to enlarge

The Movies: Stunts & Effects (M:S&E) is an expansion to the simulation game/machinima creator The Movies. Like its predecessor, M:S&E has the player run a Hollywood studio from 1920 to 2005, dealing with stars, rival studios, and an ever-changing marketplace. However, this is more than just a good tycoon game - it allows, and encourages, the player to make their own original short films which can be shared online or edited via iMovie. M:S&E adds more capability to the latter portion of the game, while moderately improving the overall tycoon aspect. In addition, M:S&E fixes some glaring bugs that plagued the original.

For those not familiar with the term, "machinima" are movies created, not with professional animation, but through a game. Usually, this involves complicated in-game scripting languages and editors, but The Movies (and M:S&E) streamlines the process, making it easy for most anyone. However, because The Movies and M:S&E are machinima and not true animation systems, they have a large but limited number of actions (scenes) that can be performed on each set, many of which are tied to the set itself. For example, while most sets have scenes with people meeting, the sets that involve moving vehicles do not.

The gameplay is little changed from The Movies, which is a good thing. The Movies' interface was fairly smooth and logical, with many options at the ready, and M:S&E doesn't change that.

There is an additional line of development added, Stunts. The quality of the stunt is based, as before, on the experience of the individuals performing the stunts. While actors can perform their own stunts and increase the movie's rating and revenues, they are more likely to fail than stuntmen, injuring themselves and the movie at the same time.

The Effects portion provides a large number of new sets, including miniature cities and the green and blue screens. With this, a large number of user-made sets become viable, although they take a bit of work to create more than a backdrop.

In addition, there are many more scene choices available, along with costumes and environmental effects, such as wind and pouring rain.

This is where M:S&E really shines. The machinima system is unchanged, which is a good thing, as it was and is pretty easy to use, but it is improved here. There is more variety and customization than before. Every aspect of machinima creation is strengthened, with more and better costumes, sets, effects, scenes, and props.

For the purposes of this review, I made a short using the sandbox mode. From the creation of the characters in Starmaker to the final editing, it took me two hours. The short can be found here in the highest definition and here in a more middle definition. All of the sounds were made automatically, with the music coming from two included songs (one can use anything that is accessible by iTunes as well).


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