CD-ROM Review
by Frank Potter
Impact of New Information Resources: Multimedia and Networks
taught by Howard Besser
Winter Term, 1996

Imagine this scenario...

You're in a 22nd century space battle and your ship has been destroyed! You and your colleagues all eject safefy. Then a piece of wreckage slams into your life pod!

When you awake, you find yourself on a new ship. However, your friends could only save your brain, which they have encased in a life support system.

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to explore the universe along with Tia Carrere ("Wayne's World" and "True Lies") and Christian Bocher ("Melrose Place" and "Murder She Wrote") as a flying mechanical probe named Casey?

I didn't think so...

Well now you can! The Daedalus Encounter, a beautifully produced truly multimedia CD-ROM interactive game created by Mechadeus and published by Virgin Interactive, takes advantage of the latest gaming technologies to bring you as close to the experience that any wild-eyed pimple-faced 16-year-old could possibly expect!

But, before you go out and buy it, make sure you have all the latest and greatest hardware...this program was designed for a multimedia-ready Pentium PC or PowerPC Mac machine with at least 8MB RAM, thousands of video colors, stereo speakers, sound card, and a quad-speed CD-ROM drive. Luckily, my office has just such a beast!

Installation was a little difficult, but only because my native operating system, Windows NT, bombed every time I tried to boot the game up. So I had to reinitialize the system using Windows 3.11 and then everything worked fine.

The program consists of three CDs, loaded with more than two hours of live action video running via Navigable Quicktime. The video is very smooth, not herky-jerky like Howard's Cu-CMe experiment. I imagine this wouldn't be so if you tried running this CD on a slower machine. Some of the video segments tended to run long at times, leaving you in a lurch while you wait with baited trigger finger (I never did get to kill anything, only myself several times). If you've got the time and a Quicktime viewer, check out the Daedalus Encounter's video trailer.

More so than the stunning visuals, I was quite impressed by the sound effects, voices and music which run almost constantly in the background. You could really hear how the designers had employed stereo effects into the program. The music by HER HOUSE (never heard of them, sorry) and "legendary performance artist" Ronnie Montrose (sorry, I plead ignorant, never heard of him/her either) adds a lot to the enjoyment. The soundtrack has an eerie feel to it, but picks up when the action demands!

So, I'm playing along and the first challenge you encounter is opening up the bay doors of an abandoned freigther vessel (we're all salvagers now) using a small burst of the probe's laser. I blew up the booby-trapped door about 15 times, enduring the wrath of a screaming Carrere (playing Lt. Ariel Matheson) over and over until I got really pissed (I used to like her). I can still hear her now, "Casey, I told you to be careful! Now we'll have to start all over again!" You then have to start over from that point until you get it right.

This part of the game kinda stunk, but it got more interesting at the next challenge. We slammed into some sort of ship, and the life support systems were fading. A puzzle of some sort appeared, and it was my job to rewire all the systems by solving a really cool implementation of a maze. After several attempts, I solved this puzzle, only to have my system bomb at that point! Ay Caramba!

Perhaps the klunkiest part of the game was the implementation of me as a probe. Oh well, just like in real life, I guess I can only dream of hooking up with Tia! It was kinda silly to begin with, but I guess the creators thought that was the best way to incorporate the player. I felt rather limited in what I was allowed to do, but didn't get far enough along in the game to really get a good feel for it.

This definitely isn't a DOOM-esque, shoot-em-up, carpal-tunnel creating action game. I thought the puzzles were extremely challenging, if not too entirely up to chance. On the negative side, some of the conversations by Zack (Bocher) toward Ari descended toward lewd sexually suggestive comments, as did Carrere's sleeveless, cleavage-enhancing outfit. Very cruel, especially for a limbless brain stuck in a life support probe!

If I didn't have so much school work, I'm sure this game would take up all of my free time!

More reviews of: The Daedalus Encounter