At a time when other companies were trying to make "interactive movies", Star Trek TNG: Interactive Technical Manual (STTNG:TM) proves that at least one publisher knew how to make truly effective use of CD-ROM storage space. STTNG:TM is the first and arguably best release in a series of Star Trek reference CD-ROMs from Simon & Schuster. The CD comprises two components: a guided virtual tour of the USS Enterprise NCC 1701-D, with QuickTime VR segments that let users look around actual sets used in the filming of the TV show, and a comprehensive database of technical information about the Enterprise's inner workings. The technical portion is based on Star Trek TNG: Technical Manual, the definitive compendium of technical information about the Enterprise, written by TNG designers Rick Sternbach and Michael Okuda.
There are many options aboard the Enterprise in this excellent CD-ROM. For a start, you can let Commander Riker lead you to many parts of the ship (the bridge, captain's quarters, holodeck, etc.) in guided tours. These segments are not my favorite as Riker tends to be overly sentimental and ramble on about things I'm not interested in ;) The star of the CD-ROM, though, is the excellent use of QuickTime VR that allows you to fully explore 360 degree, photographic interiors and exteriors of the Enterprise and examine hundreds of objects, diagrams, text entries and episode clips. From detailed schematics of the ship's most vital systems to the personal effects of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his senior officers, STTNG:TM contains everything you could ever want to know about the USS Enterprise.
The only potential problem with the CD-ROM is that parts of it depict some very complex concepts that anyone without a degree in engineering or physics would have a hard time understanding. Although none of the information approaches the complexity of, say, quantum physics, it can sometimes be a bit too daunting for the Star Trek layman to enjoy. So if you're not really big on the technical aspects and jargonese that makes up ST:TNG technobabble, this CD-ROM probably won't be your cup of tea. Still, the CD is comprehensive enough that countless reams of non-technical info and anecdotes should keep non-technical fans (like me) happy for hours on end. Those interested in the technical details of the ship can explore on their own with an easy-to-use mouse interface. The interior workings of the holodeck are a must-see, and don't forget to visit Ten Forward for a drink. You can also study the exterior of the ship to learn the reasons for dish separation or visit the Captain's quarters to view his tapestry, which sits in reminder of the importance of the Prime Directive. Definitely a must-have for all ST:TNG fans, and a much more balanced and interesting CD than later titles in the series (e.g. Star Trek: Omnipedia). Two thumbs up, way up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs