David Wolf: Secret Agent
Dynamix is a new company that has set its sights on redefining electronic entertainment. We've heard that before, of course; but the approach they're taking might well succeed. What they've done with David Wolf: Secret Agent, quite simply, is to move the experience of computer gaming closer to the experience of watching TV.
One of the greatest appeals of computer and videogames is that the action takes place not on a static playing board on your dining room table, but rather on your television or computer monitor. For the past 30 years television has almost completely dominated home entertainment, so this appeal is quite logical. But electronic games rarely exploit one powerful aspect of television: it is often a social activity (albeita passiveone). Families frequently watch The Cosby Show and Cheers together; people play Super Mario Bros, and Microsoft Flight Simulator by themselves. David Wolf: Secret Agent tries to change the solitary focus of electronic games. The game opens like a movie or TV show, with credits, names and portraits of the actors and actresses, and theme music. From there the game proceeds to an introductory sequence in which secret agent David Wolf discusses recent events. As in a James Bond movie, Wolf gets a new toy to play with (a hang glider) and immediately puts it into action.
Only at this point, with Wolf flying the hang glider, do you enter the game. You take Wolf's role, controlling the glider and firing its weapons against an enemy attack. When the attack is over - usually very quickly - the "movie" resumes. You don't regain control over Wolf's actions until he leaves the hospital and becomes involved in a car chase.
Of course, this unusual approach creates its own problems. For the most part, the movie plot is considerably more interesting than the action sequences. Graphically, the game is very appealing. Even the EGA version (a VGA version will follow soon) uses digitized photographs of real actors. The movie scenes aren't animated (due to memory and storage constraints) and the sound is limited (due to hardware constraints), but the game does away with the computerish graphics found in most games. Let's not forget that some people (as my wife and parents keep reminding me) find computer graphics unappealing. The only time they sit up and take notice is when the graphics approach the quality of television.