GRAY AREAS MAGAZINE
SOFTWARE REVIEWS - FEBRUARY 1997
BY NETTA GILBOA
BRYCE 2 (MetaTools) Finally available to Windows users, this 3D design package does things no other 3D package can. Designed for those who wish to make landscape backgrounds, game scenes and multimedia projects, this is also useful for sophistic ated web page design as well. Itís easy to use, offers a DXF/3DMF import which makes it compatible with other 3D packages you may already own, and it offers tools such as control fog, clouds, sunlight, multiple light sources, organic rocks generation and Boolean operations. Most impressive is the ability to do 3D terrain sculpting which allows the user to paints in peaks, valleys, plateaus and erosion into landscapes. At under $200 this is a bargain if you have a need for even some of its features, and of fers lots of possibilities for illustrators and graphic designers who just want to play in 3D. Takes only 41 megs of hard drive space to install and offers many sample textures to get users started. Well done and worth the long wait for the Windows version to arrive.
DESTINY (Interactive Magic) This strategy game focuses on "world domination from the stone age to the space age." You can opt to play in 2-D or 3-D, play alone against the computer or compete with a friend over modem or LAN, budget time for a full campaign, mini-game or multiple scenarios and choose between scientific or military victory conditions. Thereís a 150,000 word encyclopedia included as well as custom soundtrack and both real-time and turn-based game play. Itís easy to use with grea t graphics and should be of great interest to fans of games like Civilization.
DETAILER (Fractal Design Corporation) Billed as "the amazing 3D paint program," this package includes Ray Dream Designer 4.1 and a program which lets you paint directly onto the surface of 3D models. Included here are over 100 brushes from Painter, hundreds of textures, seamless patterns, stock photos and support for third-part plug-ins too. This is relatively easy to use, includes lots to get you started and allows you to do all sorts of sophisticated things in 2D and 3D such a s package design, models for toys, magazine illustrations, etc. It helps a lot if you know what you want to create before you use this program as itís not intended for making letterhead or modifying clipart for newsletters. For those who use the computer to make their ideas happen, however, this is a superb tool which will save you time, provide increased accuracy and even allow you to export your work into a 3D animation program if need be. Well done.
DETROIT RED WINGS (ReadySoft) Fans of this sports team will enjoy this multimedia experience which lets users play a trivia game, offers stats and biographies on every player, contains a virtual visit to the Joe Louis Arena where home games are played and allows users to relive 70 years of Detroit history including the events of each season and the seven Stanley Cup wins. There are over 1,000 videos included here, as well as photos, graphics, sound and music. This release is part of a series so fans of other teams may find thereís an edition out for them too.
GOOSEBUMPS: ESCAPE FROM HORRORLAND (DreamWorks Interactive) Designed as a childrenís game based on the popular book, this game is actually ideal for novice adventure game players of all ages. Itís easier to navigate and understand than the bulk of its competitors, it has a great theme which allows you to explore a haunted theme park and itís got nine levels of arcade style action and many puzzles to keep even adults occupied for hours. Full motion video includes performances by Jeff Goldblum and Isabel la Rosellini and the game requires a Pentium 60 to run so you know the graphics are state-of-the-art. This is co-produced with both Microsoft and Scholastic, both known for only top quality childrenís products and has our highest recommendation as well. < /P>
HARPOON CLASSIC í97 (Interactive Magic) This strategy game is based on the theme of modern naval warfare. Itís a sequel which offers 50 new missions as well as the ability to play over the Internet for those who opt to use AOL. For new players, thereís a total of 250 scenarios, as well as a scenario editor and the ability to control ships, submarines and aircrafts in Greenland and Iceland, Indian Ocean, North Atlantic, and the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean waters. You have 100 high-powered weapons at your disposal, terrain graphics, and artwork which has been upgraded from the original game.
THE NEVERHOOD (DreamWorks Interactive) Rarely does an adventure game offer anything new to the genre, but hereís a notable exception. This game is clay-animated! It was created with three tons of clay and 50,000 frames of animation. Itís full of humor too, as you explore sixty twisted puzzles. I got stuck by the second one myself, so thereís lots of challenge here in addition to it being cute. There are no maps, scores or inventory, making the journey a really unique experience in a genre based on havi ng you constantly monitor these things. Requires a Pentium 75 and lots of patience as you try to get past each new puzzle. Well done and even worthy of a sequel.
RAMA (Sierra On-Line, Inc.) Based on the popular books by Arthur C. Clarke, this adventure game allows you to be an astronaut sent to explore an alien space craft. You decipher puzzles and find clues while avoiding danger. If you survive you get to rep ort your mysterious findings. There are five cities to explore, puzzles which include intricate color matching, interpreting languages and creatures youíve never seen before and interactions with Arthur C. Clarke at key moments in the adventure. Also incl uded are an interview with Mr. Clarke and a chapter from his upcoming novel 3001. Will not disappoint fans of the books and will interest any adventure fan who likes sci-fi themes too.
THE ROBERTA WILLIAMS ANTHOLOGY (Sierra On-Line, Inc.) Known for their superb games, Sierra has compiled a historical collection of their adventure games here which even dates back to the Apple IIe! From 1980ís Mystery House to the first IBM game s in CGA and including each of the seven Kingís Quest games, this package also includes The Dark Crystal and both Laura Bow mystery games. Many of these games were never designed to work on todayís fast Pentiums and Sierra has gone way above the call of duty in providing saved games for places where the games are likely to crash and for providing hints on getting past hard sequences in games so old it would be hard to find players who could provide hints for them. Thereís an Apple IIe emulat or included here, a preview of the next Kingís Quest game still being created and lots and lots of memories for older gaming fans. I used to have The Wizard and The Princess on my Atari 800 and it was very moving to be able to play it again after all these years. If you like adventure games this is a must to own and if you are interested in the history of computers and how graphics have evolved this is an excellent reference piece towards that end as well.
WINDOWS DRAW 5.0 (Micrografx, Inc.) This printing and graphics package is ideal for users who are frustrated by the limitations of packages like The Print Shop but donít need the sophistication of CorelDRAW! or Illustrator either. This comes with a drawing package, a photo program, a 3D program ideal for text and a media manager. There are 250 TrueType fonts, hundreds of designs to choose from or the freedom to make your own from scratch and more than 20,000 pieces of clip art and photos. Ideal for web pages, letterhead, light photo retouching, calendars and signs, I find this indispensable even though I already own at least a dozen other graphics packages. This latest version works more smoothly with Internet graphics formats, off ers the Instant 3D program and adds support for Avery products including their mailing labels. At under $50 itís well worth having and a must if you collect clip art, have a previous version of this package or donít already own any such graphics pa ckage.
WORMS (Ocean of America, Inc.) Up to 16 players can join in on this fun arcade game. You play a worm taking turns firing at the enemy and combining strategy, wits, reflexes and luck to try to win. The are fun graphics and landscapes including dirt, wat er, lava pits, beach, candy and Martian gloop. You can choose how long rounds last, the number of land mines, how to place the worms, and numerous play modes. There are 24 weapons available and support on the companyís web page too. This is an innovative game, both fun and addictive and should appeal to people who like games like Lemmings as well as shooting fans of all ages.