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The Ultimate James Bond - An Interactive Dossier (1996)

For years James Bond lovers have been searching for the ultimate reference guide to the world of 007. While there are plenty of books dedicated to the world's most famous secret agent, to house all of the information available on James Bond they would need to be as thick as a phone book. Now, with the innovations and advancements in the computer industry, one is able to store not only every tidbit on the Bond phenomenon, but also full color graphics, videos, sounds, and even a trivia program.

From the minute the program opened and ran it's opening video sequence I knew I was in for a real treat. By the time the program brought me to the main menu screen my mouth was already agape from what I had seen. The user interface is cleverly laid out to look and feel like you are entering a top secret database. Some of the categories include "Q Branch" (gadgets), "Bond AKA" (All the inner secrets of the stars and the film making), "Women", "Villains" and of course, "Missions" (the movies). The CD contains basically everything MGM/UA knows about their world of James Bond.

[Interactive Dossier Image]Unfortunately, as written in Entertainment Weekly, "One problem with The Ultimate James Bond is that it's so centered on all things officially 007 that it comes off as, well, arrogant and egotistical." I would have liked to see a section on Never Say Never Again and both the Casino Royale movie and the 1954 TV episode. But I suppose that would have meant too many royalties to pay to other companies.

Aside from the lack of non MGM/UA sources, I only had two other peeves at the program. My main problem is that it is not available for Macintosh users and there are no plans to make one in the near future. As a Mac user this greatly disappointed me. However, we also have an old IBM in the family room so I ran it on that. This brings me to my other concern; the system requirements are rather large. It recommends a minimum of a 100 MHz Pentium processor, 16 megs of RAM, 4x CD-ROM drive, 16-Bit color graphics and sound card. The machine in my family room is a 486DX, 66 MHz and a 2X CD-ROM drive. Although the program ran on it, it was extremely slow and lagging. It took a few minutes to load anything and when it finally loaded, the interface was slow. Video sound was lagging behind video by a few seconds and the trivia program was just totally slow.

The speed problems and lag I felt on the 66 MHz PC were nothing compared to when I tried to use it on my 75 MHz Macintosh machine using a program called Soft Windows. Then the delays became intolerable. I literally had to wait 10 minutes for the program to load up and installation took well over an hour. Once in the program the delays were so long that at times I was able to listen to a whole song on my radio while waiting for a section, picture, sound or anything else to load.

Finally I stopped messing around. I chose a day when I had nothing to do and brought the program with me to a friend's house who has a 133 MHz Pentium computer with an 8X CD-ROM drive and all the recommended 16-bit options. Then I truly entered Bond lover heaven. For 6 hours straight I sat at the computer using the program, learning everything my little mind can store about 007, and doing it at blazing speed. The movie clips' sound was right on time with the video; sounds, graphics, movies and different sections took a mere few seconds to load; and the program started up in less than a minute. With this setup, any fan of James Bond, 007 will never want to leave their computer.

My final review is...INCREDIBLE! I would definitely recommend this to any and all James Bond lovers. Even if you have to make due with lag and delays it is still worth your time. And the price is right too: $39.95 and it comes with a copy of GoldenEye. Everyone I have talked to loved it, why not you too.

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