Science – Nature/Undersea World
Eyewitness Virtual Reality: Bird
Eyewitness Virtual Reality: Cat
The Eyewitness Virtual Reality Series, from DK Multimedia, is what people who’ve never seen “virtual reality” imagine it must be – something out of H.G. Wells that provokes gasps of delight and wonder. We looked at the Bird and the Cat installments of the series (Sharks, Jungle, and Dinosaurs are slated for future release). Both programs use the same interface, a splendid example of state-of-the-art animation of a virtual museum, filled with interactive exhibits; it’s so realistic you may have to stop and pinch yourself. From the 3D tour at the start of the programs to the copious details, like wooden floors polished to a high shine, the rendering never fails to take the breath away. The style of the program doesn’t stop there. Navigational icons are cleverly presented, plentiful videos run well, and an ingenious “elevator” function allows you to connect all the different discs in the series together, simply by going up or down one floor in the museum. The content is slightly less incredible than the interface, but is still respectable. A large number of topics are covered, some in greater detail than others. If you’re looking for a serious research tool that will help you write a thesis on a cat’s olfactory system, you’ll need to turn to other sources. If, however, you want to learn a little about a lot and have it illustrated in vivid ways, this series is just what you want. A quality soundtrack and some thoughtful touches (like fossils that rotate 360 degrees, and a simulator that puts you in the role of a vulture) keep the experience refreshing even after the initial amazement at the interface has worn off.
– December 1995