Inside Independence Day
from Fox Interactive
Behind the scenes at this summer's blockbuster hit.

Rating : graphics 89, sound 86, interface 75, fun factor 50, overall 75

The words "Independence Day" conjure up the images of the American flag waving gently in the breeze. Of families getting together to not only enjoy the company of each other, but also to reflect upon the independence that Americans fought for so many years ago. It also brings about the images of cities being destroyed in a wall of flame, people scurrying to find safety anywhere, and aliens looming overhead with no intention of letting us live. Making over 100 million dollars in just 6 days, Independence Day has carved its own niche in history. The most popular movie of `96 has inspired Inside Independence Day. With the release of Inside Independence Day you can now see clips from the movie, productions shots, interviews with the main characters and learn more about UFOs.

Inside Independance Day The first thing you should know is that Inside Independence Day is not a game--it's a resource and at times a reference. It's a collection of movie clips, productions shots and story-board illustrations. Along with that, Inside ID4 contains interviews with the main characters, the pyrotechnic wizards and the director. As a bonus, (yeah, right) there are 3 video clips of ID4 the game. Inside ID4 uses the Quicktime for Windows video player as well as the Picture Viewer from Apple. While Fox felt they were saving themselves a lot of time by not having to convert the Mac product to the PC by using Quicktime, it caused nothing but grief for me. The graphics are pretty good but there's nothing here that you might use as a background. The sound is okay but nothing spectacular. The interface, no matter how intuitive it is, is a slow beast.

Fox's decision to use Quicktime was my first concern about Inside Independence Day. I run Windows 95 and because of that I installed the 32 bit version of Quicktime (Quicktime 32). Inside ID4 demands that I use Quicktime for Windows--the 16 bit version. So I agree with the installation program and install the 16 bit version along-side it's 32-bit counterpart. That was mistake number one because as soon as I tried to run the calibration video, the program locks up. I struggled with Quicktime for the next hour eventually giving up. Quicktime never worked on my machine, and now Quicktime 32 is broken as well. Luckily I was able to find an old Windows 3.1 machine around the office that only had Quicktime for Windows and Inside ID4 installed fine. I hope Fox realizes that because you cannot successfully run their product on a Win95 machine with the 32 bit version of Quicktime that people will be frustrated and disappointed.

Inside ID4 highly recommends you run the CD in 640x480 with 256 colors. But because of the low color palette, the graphics suffer heavy dithering. In 256 colors all the graphics look horrible. It's so bad that you can't tell what's going on when you watch the movies. If you have the horsepower and the video card to run it I highly recommend that you run the CD in 640x480 by Hi-Color. If you can get away with it, go for 24 bit. In the higher color modes all the graphics shine and look great. My only complaint about the movies is the small size. Even though they are in letter-box format you just don't get the same effect as in the theater.

I was somewhat disappointed that there was no section on the CD for backgrounds, sounds or anything to help customize your computer. I was hoping that I could get the White House exploding scene as a 640x480 Jpeg (or BMP) and be able to use that as Windows wallpaper. Alas, that scene is only shown in one of the postage stamp size videos. All the sound was also only to be found inside a Quicktime video, so there was no hope of using any sound from the movie as a desktop event sound. If you intend to purchase Inside ID4 as a collection to use to help customize your computer then don't bother. You'll find more on the Internet at one of the Themes sites.

Inside Independance Day The interface has a few problems that can make Inside ID4 a real pain to use. The first is the response time. You click on a button and wait. And wait. And wait. (I found it helpful to watch TV or read a book while it churns away at your hard drive.) The problem is most prevalent on machines that Inside ID4 claims to run on--8 Meg systems with a 2x Cd-Rom. You see, each background is actually in a huge Quicktime Video. So each the program asks for an image, it must seek through the movie one frame at a time on your Cd-Rom until it finds it. (If you run out of memory, then there will be a lot of hard drive activity as well.) Of course this must have been the most "efficient" way to access images rather than _store_them_individually_! On 16 Meg systems with 4x and 6x Cd-Roms, this problem isn't as great.

The other problem is the layout of the Photo Gallery. Instead of showing you thumbnail size images in an organized layout, you must go through each image one at a time! Thumbnails make so much more sense because then you only spend your time on the images you want to see--not all the ones you don't care about.

The Tech Notes section was the most interesting aspect of Inside ID4. The Tech notes explain how the "wall of fire" special effect was accomplished. Additionally, explanations of many of the special effects were discussed in detail and all were very interesting. Of all the sections you'll spend time viewing, I think the Tech Notes is the best.

Because of the nature of Inside ID4 Fox Interactive included a section about UFOs. One of the foremost researchers of UFOs and owner of the largest collection of UFO pictures shares his ideas and views on the matter. Looking at the images of "real" UFOs didn't convince me, considering how well image editing has gotten on the computer. However, his claims and information was entertaining and makes you ask yourself how much you believe in UFOs.

Inside Independance Day Inside ID4 is only intended for the enthusiast who just can't get enough of the movie. There's very little "entertainment" value to be found here. There's a lot of production images and story-board pictures but very few movies (around 10). If you can wait, Independence Day the Game should be out soon. I'm sure it will contain a lot more of the action, fun, and entertainment that we all want.

-- Louis Stice

System requirements: 486/25, 8MB Ram, 7-10Meg, 2x Cd-Rom, Windows 3.1 or Windows 95, Sound Blaster or Compatible
Recommended: 486/66 or better, 12 or more MB Ram, VLB Video card, HiColor or Higher Video Card, 4x Cd-Rom or higher

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