Stunts and Effects is the first expansion pack for The Movies, a game where you can simulate being a Hollywood studio boss and make blockbuster movies. Like its namesake, this expansion pack offers gamers more variety in terms of the incredible stunts and special effects that make today's movies so spectacular. It also integrates with the original seamlessly, without any glitches or flaws whatsoever.

The game menu offers the options of starting a new game, sandbox, and tutorials. If you're a first time player, try the tutorials out first, as there are some commands that are difficult to pick up on the fly. It also will teach you how to max out your stars to their ultimate potential. After you're done with the tutorial, use the sandbox mode to get used to the feel before tackling a challenge in the game mode.

Create a studio and let it grow, as your crew, scriptwriters, and actors gain experience in different genres. Check out what's happening in the news every once in a while on your world monitor - this will let you know what your audience will be more willing to see and pay for at the box office. Try to keep your studio in tip top shape, otherwise your lot value will decrease and it will be difficult trying to find people who want to work for you.

The overall effects work really well - you can even write and direct your own screenplay. However, this will take a lot of time, both in the game time and in reality. As the script is being written, either by yourself or by one of you screenwriters, the game tends to lag - there's nothing to do but wait while your script is being written. You could build some new buildings or sets, but there's only so much variety before you have no more options left. The same can be said while the cast is in rehearsal. One of the downsides to this game is that you always seem to have a shortage of scriptwriters, crew, and directors, but plenty of studio staff and actors who want their fifteen minutes of fame.

The other is that the technology you have to work with is specific to the era you are working in. When you start up a new game in the sandbox mode, you can choose from one of three different starting dates: the 1930s Great Depression, World War 2 in the 1940s, or the dawn of television in the 1950s. It takes quite a while to get to a more modern point where you would be able to use contemporary motorcycle stunts and flaming structures. Hence where the replay value lies.

Speaking of stunts, the Stunts and Effects expansion adds more then a set of props. The new stunt school allows you to hire professionals to co-ordinate and execute the spectacular stunt effects you see in modern-day Hollywood films. In addition, players now have the option of filming on green or blue screen sets, allowing you to digitally insert backgrounds and "film" your characters in nearly any location imaginable.

The visual effects in the game are what you would expect from any game of this genre: not too detailed, but detailed enough to satisfy. The background and building images are pleasing to the eye, but the characters themselves are somewhat bulky and masculine looking, which is especially awkward when shooting a movie with a female in a romantic lead. As you play, you will hear the voice of a radio announcer, imitating how it would sound if you were actually in the 1930s. There are different radio announcers; however, they become quite boring after a short period of time.

Overall the expansion adds to the original game by offering the user a tantalizing selection of new effects and stunts to use in the creation of their movies. Stunts and Effects is a good addition to The Movies line, and hopefully will be the first with more to come in the near future.