A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game lets players appear in their own short movies. Captured video is superimposed on various scenes to make it look as though players are, say, running away from an alien or thinking up maniacal schemes. The action is G-rated; scenes typically involve nothing more offensive than goofy foot chases and the occasional explosion. While you can play alone, it's meant to be a party game, with up to four people taking on different roles in each movie.
What's it about?
YOU'RE IN THE MOVIES does almost exactly what its title suggests: It uses the bundled Xbox Live Vision camera to take video of up to four players and then superimposes it on short films, making it seem as though you and your friends are the stars of the picture. Each of the 30 movies in the game is preceded by a small selection of mini-games that has players, say, pretending to toss logs or steer bikes—movements that approximate what the movie's characters do on screen. Scores are awarded based on how closely each player manages to mimic the action required. Afterwards, players have to do a series of pick-up shots by assuming various facial expressions for the camera, such as an evil grin or a look of intense concentration. The movie is assembled once enough shots have been captured, at which point players sit back and (hopefully) laugh as they watch their recorded antics placed within the context of various sci-fi, thriller, and adventure stories.
Is it any good?
You're in the Movies has plenty of potential, but it's plagued by problems that suck most of the fun out of the game. For starters, the software does a terrible job of cutting players out from the backgrounds of their homes. We tested the game with plain white walls and under excellent lighting conditions, and not once did we manage to acquire an image with crisply defined edges. We looked like partially invisible actors in most scenes, with bits of our bodies, arms, and heads occasionally disappearing. What's worse, without a clean image, many of the mini-games -- which often rely on players' hands striking various onscreen objects -- became impossible to play properly.
Complicating matters, the game's pacing is incredibly slow. The more players you have, the longer you'll have to wait before your turn in front of the camera. And if you want to save a movie to your hard disk you'll have to wait at least a minute for a progress bar to fill. It's a serious momentum killer. You're in the Movies can be fun while watching the films you make (assuming the camera problem isn't too noticeable), but expect a lot of frustration and tedium along the way.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about physical activity in games. Is a game that makes you get up off the couch to pretend you are running , dodging, or punching more appealing than one in which you simply sit and hold a controller? Do you think that you are getting exercise while you play? Does the fact that you need to take turns in this particular game reduce its potential physical benefits?