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Dark Side Of The Moon

Product: Dark Side Of The Moon
Company: Southpeak Interactive
Website: http://www.southpeak.com
Estimated Street Price: £35/$40
Review By: Byron Hinson

Blurb On The Box and The Plot

Dark Side of the Moon takes place on the ninth moon of sixth planet in the Cepheus on a mining colony owned by the Brave Hope Mining Corporation. The player-controlled character, Jake Wright, must find out why his uncle died and uncover the truth behind his uncles apparently worthless mine all while battling fearsome creatures, solving puzzles and trying to avoid being shot on sight for a murder he didnít commit.

Here are some of the features:

  • Uses SouthPeak's Video Reality technology, enabling game players to freely navigate through Dark Side Of The Moon's spacious, elaborate environments. Players have a 360-degree field of vision at virtually any point in the game.
  • The game narrative is structured in a non-linear fashion - there are no episodes to complete or levels to accomplish. Players are free to go wherever they choose to create their own unique gaming experiences.
  • Puzzles and dramatic obstacles are carefully integrated into the story line and gaming environment. No puzzles are merely placed there just to give players something to do.
  • Written and designed by Lee Sheldon, SouthPeak's senior game writer/designer. Sheldon s a two-time Edgar Award nominee for mystery writing and Writers Guild Of America nominee for outstanding achievement in television writing.

    Sheldon wrote and co-designed the critically acclaimed CD-ROM game, The Riddle Of Master Lu. He is a 20-year television veteran who has written and/or produced for such series as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Cagney and Lacey, Charlie's Angels, Blacke's Magic, Edge of Night and Simon & Simon.
  • All gameplay is integrated into a single interface. Navigation, conversation, hints, puzzles and action sequences are all integrated into one gameplay mode.
  • Conversation mode allows interaction with the many intriguing characters in the game.
  • Video Digital Assistant (VDA) allows game player to receive messages from characters, record conversations for later playback, automatically map surroundings, and store scanned documents.
    • Laser scanner allows players to scan documents and review them in their VDA, eliminating the need to carry papers in inventory.
    • VDA automatically records conversations with characters for later review.
    • Map feature of VDA displays the areas of the moon the player has explorer.
  • Hint System
  • Allows unlimited save games.
  • Detailed environments - All designed on Silicon Graphics workstations running SoftImage.
  • Original music score by Rod Abernethy and Dave Adams of Slackmates.
  • Utilizes DirectSound 3D audio to fully immerse the player.

Installation, Intro and In-Game Options

Dark Side Of The Moon comes on 6 CD's so you can tell straight away that the game is packed full of Full Motion Video. Installation is the same as most games, it first installs the Video Reality engine (Version 2) and then DirectX assuming you need it. Once installed you can begin the game right away, it asks if you would like the program to resize your desktop to 640x480 as this is the resolution you need to run the game in.

The intro brings you into the story and shows your uncle dying (Committing suicide?). The first thing you notice is that the video window is quite small, but the quality of the full motion video is very good. The basic options are new game, load, save, intro etc. Everything you would expect from any adventure game.

Gameplay, Graphics, Sound and Controls

Gameplay wise it is a little hard to say that Dark Side Of The Moon is anything new and original, despite this being a new version of the Video Reality engine, it felt much the same as the first one used in Temujin. Why am I starting on the Full Motion Video straight away and not delving into the gameplay? well the full motion video is very much THE gameplay in Dark Side Of The Moon.

How It Grades
Originality: C-
Gameplay: C+
Story: B+
Graphics: C-
Cutscenes: B
Sound: B+
Interface: B
Multiplayer: N/A
Overall: C+

The actual adventuring part to Dark Side Of The Moon is very much the norm, use object A with object B etc. Puzzles and obstacles block your way during the game, but thankfully this time around the puzzles are integrated well with the story, unlike Temujin. Sometimes puzzles are making sure you speak to characters at certain times and to get to various areas of the mines again at certain times. The most part of the game is spent chatting to various other characters you meet while on your travels in the mines. The newer version of the Video Reality engine allows you to choose what you are going to say to each person you meet, this helps give a level of interaction to Dark Side Of The Moon that was again missing in Temujin.

Graphics throughout the game are good (Sometimes areas are even superbly detailed), but not great as most screens are very blurry. Also the tiny screen you have to control movement through and interact with characters and objects in is just nowhere near big enough.

The interface where you control objects and save games from is surprisingly good, although this is probably because it takes up more space than the actual view screen you control everything in. Controls are basic to say the least, turning left and right spins the video screen around your location, sometimes you will also be able to look up and down, but this is a rarity.

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Now onto the good parts of the game. The sound and music are superb, the orchestral type soundtrack wouldn't sound out of place in a Science Fiction movie. The in-game sound effects are all in 3D surround, so in various areas you hear sound coming from the left, right etc. Some of the voice-overs are not so hot however.

Dark Side Of The Moon relies heavily on a plot, Lee Sheldon doesn't let you down. If you remember The Riddle Of Master Lu (An excellent game and story despite its high level of difficulty). The plot moves fast and sometimes even surprises you, although some dialogue could have been better written.

Final Comments

So can I recommend this to adventurers? Yes certainly if you enjoy a good story over gameplay, but I feel there should be room for both. I became bored very easily traipsing around the Video Reality world with little to do but talk to the people I meet. I do believe that there is a place in the gaming world for Full Motion Video games, but right now there is still only one game that has done that successfully and that is Wing Commander 3 (4+5 Do not count). Once DVD-ROM's become the mainstream then I feel that video games like this can finally start to fulfill their dreams, but games which have small windows of video just don't cut it anymore.

On the plus side, Dark Side Of The Moon is a long game which you won't complete within a few days of buying and I commend SouthPeak for making sure that the game is long, as there have been so many releases over the past year that could be completed within a day of buying them.

I just hope that SouthPeak's next release, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea will come on DVD and not across 6-8 CD's.

Overall Score

68%

Version Reviewed

Version 1.0 US

Release Date

Out Now

In The Box?

6 CD's
1 Set of instructions
Registration Card

PC Setup

  • Pentium II 450
  • Windows 98
  • 128 Meg SD-Ram
  • Voodoo 2 - 8mb
  • SoundBlaster Live! Value
  • Toshiba SD-1202 DVD-ROM - 32x
  • 17" LG Electronics Monitor
  • ATI 8mb XPert AGP Graphics Card

PC Required

  • Pentium 166
  • Microsoft Windows 95/98 operating system
  • 32 MB of RAM
  • 150 MB of available hard disk space
  • Eight-speed CD-ROM drive
  • Microsoft DirectX 5.0
  • 2MB SVGA Graphics Card
  • Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device
  • Windows 95-compatible sound board

 

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