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Software Review - Deep Space Explorer - Space Software/Avanquest
It's a bit of an oddity, this one. It's not a DVD like the fascinating Atlas of the Sky from the same stable, nor is it planetarium software, like its other cousin, the Starry Night range from Astronomy Plus up. Instead, the idea is that you are piloting a starship through the universe. You can travel anywhere within 700 million light years of the earth, visiting any one of 28,000 galaxies and 30,000 stars. But the trouble is, it's a bit like a flight simulator program (unless you're a budding pilot) - it's great fun for around 10 minutes, but then it all gets a bit samey.
The saving grace in this case is the multimedia mini-clips - 19 clips, lasting about an hour in total. Here your "intelligent agent" gives you a voice-overed introduction to appropriate astronomical and cosmological wonders. This works quite well.
In fact, the whole thing works well - the problem really is that, beautiful though many of the galaxies are, with excellent pictures, and comprehensive though the database of information is, you can only fly from place to place and go "wow" for so long. Real space fans will love it, but certainly not for everyone.
According to the blurb the software runs on PCs and Macs - we have only tested it on PCs.
Reviewed by Brian Clegg
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Last update 05 June 2007