The Angry Corrie 40: Jan-Mar 1999

TAC 40 Index

SMC Munros CD: Review version 1.1a

Perkin Warbeck

In my curmudgeonly review of The Munros Through Windows in TAC30, my principal complaint was that if you're going to release something on CD-ROM and call it multimedia, it damn well better have some media and more than one at that. So how does The Munros shape up? Well at least there are examples of what can justifiably be called multimedia - the virtual fly-bys. I don't know about you dear reader, but I'm not really after a *.wav file of the capercaillie squawking or the stag rutting [please Ed - change this if the bugger doesn't squawk]. I want some NASA-style animation. And on this one The Munros doesn't disappoint. There are six fly-bys, as listed by Grant. Kevin Woolley has taken the prosaic elevation data and given it the treatment, and lustrous vignettes they are. The hills dappled with the snow and Loch Torridon even appearing to ripple with the wind. The screen shot below right shows one playing in a window. Most examples of this genre work from a few square kilometres, but these have peaks way in the distance, adding greatly to the verisimilitude. They also have wee commentaries which work quite well.

There is one QuickTime VRML (360 panorama). Speaking of VRML, there could have been some of that. (QuickTime VRML is not the same as "real" VRML). What do computers do that books or videos don't? They interact with the user, and VRML would allow you to fly or walk a path through the landscape with the mouse or spin it like a BMW in a car advert. (Note: VRML stands for Virtual Reality Modelling Language - or is it VeRisiMiLitude? - Ed.)

The rest is as you might expect; the photos are quite excellent, the quiz is hard.

Miscellaneous gripes: it doesn't load like a Windows application - you can't cut and paste or shrink and drag. As Grant has mentioned, it degrades your screen resolution. So if you use the web links, of which there could surely have been a lot more, they look incredibly clunky if you're used to 1020x840 like what I am. It did crash the machine quite a lot, with even Ctrl+Alt+Del not recovering it at times. And that's not due to lack of spec - unless 266MHz with 64MB is suddenly an old tin box. Clicking on "video" on Ben Cruachan brought up the Aggy Ridge, I guess on the basis that the latter was visible as a dot in the distance from the former. This seems a bit disingenuous. The product placement is a shade annoying. Er ... that's it.

In short, would I buy it for Christmas for my brother, the bagger who has everything (but who hopefully isn't reading this)? Yes - if it didn't crash on his machine. The videos and photos are what sells it, but there's plenty room for improvement in Version 2.0 - particularly with the crashing, I trust. And let's have Lara Croft in the QuickTime instead of some old codger (oops - it's probably Donald Bennet).

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