Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective logo CDTV CU Amiga Screen Star

Silica Systems, Price: £39.99, Tel: 081 309 1111

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective (SHCD from now on) is what can only be described as a great CDTV title. It features everything that the CDTV is capable of, but which previous software companies have failed to utilise. Impressive graphics, both still frame and moving, quality sound, good story line and lots of interaction are all included here. This is the best attempt I've yet seen at producing an interactive multimedia title.

None of the separate elements really stands out, although the CDXL pictures are good, but what makes it such a winner is that it's all strung together in a convincing manner, with the switching between different types of data done in an authentic manner. Most products of this type, whilst doing much the same thing, have very clearly defined borders for the different types of data being shown or heard.

For example, when a CDXL clip is shown in other applications, it's all too common for the screen to be cleared, everything to stop and the pictures just dumped to the screen. In SHCD the previous screen is kept up, and a projection screen gently scrolls up to show the pictures. A subtle difference, but one echoed throughout the game and one which produces an atmosphere of a single multimedia application, rather than a collection of different media thrown together.

The low down on SHCD is that you wander around 18th century London solving or attempting to solve cases. On playing the game a pictorial of a book appears, complete with a pretty old fashioned cover, and promptly opens. Inside this is a 'table of contents' that gives you a list of three stories to solve - The Mummy's Curse, The Case of the Mystified Murderess and The Case of the Tin Soldier. Moving the mouse over one of these titles and selecting it takes you to that particular case.

On selecting a particular case, the page turns to reveal a page with various tools (or resources) to enable you to figure out and solve the chosen case. The edges of the page are surrounded by icons, an icon for each resource. By clicking on one of these you can move around a map of London to see cinema-like video (more of this later) of interviews with suspects, etc., read case studies, background information, newspapers or make notes on the case or points of interest.

Each of these tools reveals different types of information. These are all displayed in the centre of the book in a pretty authentic manner, thus the 'notes' icon brings up a simulated notebook, whilst the 'travel' icon displays CDXL moving pictures. These are worth seeing. On clicking on the icon a slide projector-type screen scrolls up, upon which the pictures are shown.

At the bottom of this screen are video style buttons for 'rewind', 'pause', 'stop', etc. The moving pictures are all very well drawn, possibly the best I've seen. Furthermore the narration that goes with them is very well done. In scenes where Sherlock and Watson are talking the voices are dubbed to match their mouth movement. The overall effect is very convincing, you can almost believe you're watching a video! Something that a few other CDTV products have yet achieved.

Once you believe you've solved a case you can move to the 'trial' section. If you have not yet amassed enough clues you are returned to the main screen to find more. For each action you carry out you amass a set number of points. If you have successfully solved the case, difficult in itself, you must then try to beat Holmes' score!

SHCD is the first game that effectively shows off the capabilities of the CDTV. With 90 minutes of full motion video, quality graphics and decent sound it's bound to be a hit and may even sell a few CDTVs off its back. Whilst not being the much talked about 'killer application', it is the best CDTV game yet and I have no problem recommending it to CDTV and A570 owners.