The Dig



Picture 1

With filmmaker Steven Spielberg behind the original concept, LucasArts's latest game, The Dig, promises an epic adventure with an extraordinary journey into the unknown, where three astronauts struggle for survival on a stranded alien world. The game actually begins some time before they reach the nearly deserted planet, and here is in a few words, the series of events that happened prior to the arrival of the astronauts on the planet Cocytus.

Everything starts brutally when one day, a station at Borneo, spotted an asteroid whose course is heading towards planet Earth, leading to an unavoidable collision. NASA experts estimated that there is a 99% chance for the asteroid to strike Earth with enough power to completely destroy an entire city. A plan is then established by the scientific community to prevent this terrible catastrophe: nuclear devices will be installed on the asteroid's surface to change its orbit and thus, avoid a tragic collision. The most delicate part of this mission will be to correctly place the nuclear charges without having the asteroid named Attila break up into several large pieces, which would make things even worse. A mission composed of two women and three men was set up by NASA, with veteran Commander Boston Low at its head. Dr. Lutger Brink, a well-known geologist and archeologist ensures the scientific side of the mission while Maggie Robbins, a famous reporter closely covers the events. The two other mission members, Ken Borden and Cora Miles, are professional astronauts and respectively in charge of pilotage and equipment. When the shuttle took off with its five members aboard, mission Attila I was the last hope to correct the decaying orbit of the asteroid.

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The game, strictly speaking, really starts when Commander Low, Dr. Brink and Maggie Robbins appear on the screen flying around the shuttle with their space suits. From there, you must find the Flying Pig, some sort of container packed with tools and the two nuclear heads. Once you find them, you must explore the asteroid which consists of four screens and find the suitable locations for the explosive devices. This prelude to the real game won't offer a serious challenge to gamers, but you might consider this short section of the adventure as a moment where you can familiarize yourself with the interface. It is also surely intended to create greater suspense as you will start wondering what is going to happen. Will the nuclear bombs be powerful enough to put the asteroid into a safe trajectory? What if, after all your efforts, the asteroid remains on its fatal course or explodes into smaller parts just as dangerous? These are the questions I asked myself when playing with the game as I was persuaded that something terrible was going to happen suddenly after the explosions.

I was happy to find out that the operation didn't blow the asteroid into pieces, but at the same time I was anxious to see what the enormous fracture left by the explosion on the surface would reveal. Low, Brink and Maggie were again sent to explore Attila. A large fissure had dug into Attila's surface and left enough space for the astronauts to find a way through a daedalus of narrow passages inside the asteroid.

The surprise awaiting the team was way beyond their imagination. What they discovered were inscriptions on metallic plates of alien origins and when Low found another passage leading to a hollow core with a place where plates could be placed, they instinctively looked around for the missing pieces. When they finally replaced the plates into the correct geometric shape, the unbelievable became true. The entire asteroid morphed into a three-dimensional polygon made of a sort of crystal and quickly disappeared in a flash of light.

Somewhere in another part of the universe, the enormous crystal was pursuing its travel accross space to finally reach its ultimate destination, an unknown planet. The three astronauts were apparently left alone in some kind of valley surrounded by a barrier of cliffs, impossible for any of them to climb. With nothing left to eat or to drink and no way to make the return trip possible, the chances of survival for the three astronauts were merely existant. What will await the mission team next? Why were they brought to this desolated planet and if there is a reason, who or what are they going to face?

If I decided to take time, resuming the introduction and the first steps of the game, it is surely not to make this article larger (sure, it helps!) but instead to give you envy to buy and play with this adventure game. Now, I'll continue with details regarding the game itself with the interface, graphics and sounds.

The Dig probably has the best interface I have experienced in an adventure game. The mouse will let you choose where you want to go with the cursor on the screen and if you don't want to wait for your character to move from one screen to another, you can double-click on the destination to skip all the sequences. The inventory can be selected through a small transparent icon or by right-clicking the mouse. The inventory panel will then be displayed with a transparent effect that lets you see through it your current location. I must admit that sometimes, I had some trouble looking at the objects when the background colors were simular to those of an item. Except for this, I found the interface to be very convenient and efficient. To pick up an object, just use the cursor to get it, then right-click to insert it into your pockets. The same ease of use apply when it comes to use an object. You must take it out of the inventory and move it where you want to use it. Simple!

Dialogues were also subject to the same simplicity. If you feel like you want to talk to someone, click on the character and a bar will appear with small pictures representing the subject of the conversation. You can click on the same picture several times to find out more about the subject and when there is nothing else to learn about it, the box will turn blue. Another way to communicate with other team members is the Pen Ultimate. This handy device will let you contact them by pressing buttons showing their pictures and also provides you with a small game called Lunar Lander to distract you after a long period of concentration.

The Dig contains over 200 locations whose backgrounds have been hand-drawn like all character animation, and most of the locations scroll giving you even more places to explore. With more and more games featuring photorealistic scenes with live-video footages, you might think that The Dig is no match compared to them. Well, you are wrong! I personally enjoy an adventure game much more with hand-drawn graphics than with clean and cold computer rendered scenes with no human touch at all. The different scenes and beautiful sceneries you will discover during the game will delight your eyes with splendid special effects created by award-winning Industrial Light and Magic. The Dig also contains cinematic sequences with 3D computer rendered graphics showing up in the introduction and during the game.

The soundtrack which is always present in The Dig is pleasant, rich and sets the right atmosphere for the game. I never felt the need to turn off the music, on the contrary, without it I would have missed a lot more than just a soundtrack. The sound effects largely contribute to the overall realism of the game and the voices performed by a cast of professional actors (Robert Patrick from Terminator 2 for Commander Low for example) perfectly matched the different character profiles.


The combined talents of Hollywood veteran Steven Spielberg and LucasArts design team successfully resulted in a captivating and intricate game in which you will be inevitably drawn into. The Dig is certainly one of the best adventure games available at the moment, with a perfect realisation and the excitement that keeps you up very late at night.

For a complete walkthrough, click here

System Requirements:

486 DX2-66 MHz or higher,
Min 8Mb memory,
MS-DOS 6.0 or later,
Hard drive required with 1Mb free for minimum install
Double speed CD-ROM drive or faster,
VGA video graphic card (VLB or PCI bus required),
Microsoft mouse or 100% compatible.

Sound Blaster, Sound Blaster Pro, Sound Blaster 16/AWE 32; Pro Audio Spectrum 16; Ensoniq Soundscape; Gravis UltraSound and 100% compatibles.

Joystick optional.

Windows 95: Compatible in MS-DOS mode with 16-bit CD-ROM and mouse drivers installed; compatible in MS-DOS box with sufficient free RAM.


LucasArts Entertainment Co.,
P.O. Box 10307,
San Rafael, CA 94912.

Technical support: 415-507-4545
Fax support: 415-507-0300
BBS support: 415-507-0400
Hints: 1-900-740-5334 $.75 a minute
Order line: 1-800-98-LUCAS

Email: LucasArts
Web site: www.lucasart.com


In North America:

See developers.

In Europe:

In UK:

Virgin Interactive Entertainment,
2 Kensington Square,
London, W8 5RB.

Technical Support: +44-(0)171-3682266
Fax Support: +44-(0)171-468-2000
BBS Support: +44-(0)171-468-2022
Hint line: 0891-333529

Internet Support: Customer_Support@vie.co.uk
Web site: www.vie.co.uk/vie

In France:

Ubi Soft,
28, rue Armand Carrel,
93108 Montreuil sous Bois Cedex.

Web site: www.ubisoft.com


Graphics: 87%
Sound: 91%
Music: 95%
Gameplay: 94%
Interest: 95%

Overall: 93%

Click here for additional screen shots.


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