Focus Multimedia – The Interactive Space Encyclopaedia review

a history of space. Sort of.
Photo of Focus Multimedia – The Interactive Space Encyclopaedia
£10

It must be said that Focus likes its space titles – it wasn’t that long ago that the company unleashed RedShift 4 on us. This program, however, is very different in tack, presenting an encyclopaedic overview of the history of space exploration, rather than detailed star charts and solar event calendars.

The encyclopaedia is fronted by the inimitable master of the skies (and erm, Games Master, ahem!), Patrick Moore, who is called upon to narrate an introduction to the various topics the disc covers.

Before you actually start hopping around the encyclopaedia, there’s a handful of tutorials to help introduce some of the basic facts about space and related matters. These are implemented in the form of ten minute animations which introduce subjects like the earth’s atmosphere and what it comprises, and details such as how a rocket launch works. Graphically they’re fairly crude, but nonetheless they are interesting and cater well to the astronomical novice. There’s also a virtual space travel section which lets you take a ‘virtual flight’ to a planet in the solar system, and find out information about it.

Moving on to the main meat encyclopaedia – that would be the articles, then – you can sift through them using an index or you can search for a specific word. Alternatively, there’s the option to browse by topic or timeline – the topics range from areas such as space stations and the universe itself, to studies on the US, Russian and European space programmes. The timeline lets you browse through space events by the decade.

The articles themselves are fairly sketchy at best – not a great deal of textual information is given, although a decent effort has been made to provide a lot of images. Also lacking are hyperlinks and cross references, which one would expect to see a great deal more of than appears in this encyclopaedia.

What’s more, the overall presentation of the program is somewhat deficient, with fairly crude menu designs and scrolling windows – the layout is pretty unappealing. The Interactive Space Encyclopaedia does boast some interesting material – particularly some of the images – but it’s rather let down on other fronts.

Company: Focus Multimedia

Contact: 01889 570156


Verdict
After the splendour of Redshift 4, Focus has rather lost its direction here. The Interactive Space Encyclopaedia does feature some interesting tutorials, titbits of info and images, and it is priced at a budget level. Even so, it's rather weak in terms of sketchy detailing and the lack of cross referencing, not to mention the crude presentation. Not a classic information tool, frankly.