Carrier: Fortress at Sea, a CD-ROM for $40 from RMG/Dentsu USA,Discovery Channel Multimedia (800-762-2189, http://www.multimedia.discovery.com).
Carrier: Fortress at Sea compiles numerous multimedia elements in an attempt to capture the essence of the Discovery Channel’s television special of the same name. Users can visit four main sections of the program–“Briefings,” “Challenge!,” “Captain’s Pass” and “Data Bank.”
“Briefings” contains four video clips that look at different aspects of carrier aviation. The videos cover topics such as the role of the carrier, life on a carrier and carrier history.
“Challenge!” is a rudimentary flight simulation that puts users in the cockpit of an aircraft about to land on a carrier deck. Using a simulated “meatball” landing signal system and the direction of a landing signal officer, would-be carrier pilots can try landings day or night and in foggy weather. This simplified simulation features nice graphics and is fun for children. Adults, however, especially experienced pilots or flight simulation enthusiasts interested in a real challenge, may better appreciate a commercial simulation such as Jane’s U.S. Navy Fighters ’97 or MicroProse’s Fleet Defender.
“Captain’s Pass” creates a virtual tour of the carrier used in the television special, USS Carl Vinson. Viewers can roam the deck, tower and engine room. In each of the locations there are video clips that play a scene recorded on a real carrier. As you navigate decks, your location is highlighted on a picture of Vinson.
The video clips that are included are informative and include some humorous moments, but Carrier: Fortress at Sea relies on them too much–to the exclusion of other methods of orientation. Use of simulated rooms, akin to those found in adventure games, might have been more immersive and convincing.
“Data Bank,” the encyclopedia of this CD-ROM, describes all the elements of a carrier. Unlike the databases in the Wings CD-ROMs, Carrier: Fortress at Sea’s entries are generally short. The graphical embellishment incorporated in this section is attractive, but the lack of detail is a weakness.
After four solid products based on the Wings television show, Discovery Multimedia loses a little altitude with Carrier: Fortress at Sea. While this new CD-ROM is competent from a technical standpoint, its content proves passable but less than completely satisfying.
Still, the breadth of the product provides a decent overview of carrier aviation, and the materials on the disc are well-integrated. Users who seek an introduction to carrier aviation will find enlightenment in Carrier: Fortress at Sea; seasoned naval aviation enthusiasts may prefer to stay with the television special.