King's Quest V Multimedia. (computer game) (Software Review) (Compute's Getting Started with Multimedia Applications ) (Evaluation)
by Alfred C. Giovetti
King's Quest V, described by Sierra as the most richly cinematic animated adventure ever, now comes to CD-ROM multimedia entertainment. Sierra is mirroring the industry approach to CD-ROM media by converting already popular titles in the hopes that the high sales in other formats will be reflected in the multimedia format.
Sierra's approach to multimedia is to make its games, including King's Quest V, run under both the Windows and DOS environments. The DOS version also will run under a DOS-based LAN, such as Artisoft's Lantastic, as long as the workstation or peer-to-peer server contains a compatible sound card. King's Quest V Multimedia (Sierra On-Line, P.O. Box 485, Coarsegold, California 93614; 800-326-6654; $69.95) also supports a wider variety of sound cards than the disk-based version and doesn't require a direct link between the sound card and the CD-ROM drive, further enhancing DOS network and other configuration cross-compatibility.
King's Quest V Multimedia has enhanced animation, adding facial expressions and lip movements that are synchronized with the digital voices. The result is a truly remarkable product where the characters really appear to be talking as in a regular movie. Sierra used over 50 voice actors, mostly amateurs from its own staff, to give each character a depth and individuality. The voices range from company founder Roberta Roberts' vocalization of Amanda in the bake shop to Creative Development V. P. Bill Davis' portrayal of the deaf hermit on the beach. There are a wide variety of accents: German, Hispanic, southwestern U.S.
Unfortunately, there are only three hours of 8-bit 11-KHz audio included with the game instead of the over twelve hours of 16-bit 22-KHz audio that was originally planned. (Surprisingly, Wing Commander's hard disk-based 5-KHz audio was smoother than the CD-ROM-based 11-KHz audio of KQV). The three hours of audio is still impressive when you realize it takes up 120 megabytes of the CD-ROM. There's voice from beginning to end, even in the 13-minute cartoon introduction, but text is completely absent making note-taking more difficult.
The last enhancement was the upgrading of the icon-driven interface, eliminating the superfluous travel icon. The stop, disk, and setting icons were combined into a single icon-based control panel.
The graphics are 320 200 with 256 colors, to make them run more smoothly on 386 machines with VGA.
In spite of the deficiencies, Kings Quest V Multimedia is one of the most versatile, enjoyable, and compatible CD-ROM offerings to hit the market.