It's a Web of intrigue

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 December, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 December, 1998, 12:00am

THERE is little doubt that the Internet has changed the way we select software and even the way we buy it. Not too long ago, we often bought software in a somewhat blind fashion, hoping that the hype was not too far from the reality. The Internet has really changed that.

With the help of the World-Wide Web, we can now download demonstrations of software before we actually buy it and we can often buy it on the Web as well.

If you want games, the first place you may want to go to is - or - both sites are full of all sorts of information. Lists of the latest games or the hottest downloads are on both sites. If you are at all influenced by what others think, you can get a fairly good idea of what is happening by looking at the most popular downloads.

Gamespot, for example, has the following top five demos: Tomb Raider III, Trespasser, Blood 2, Microsoft Pinball and Heretic II. (One must surely wonder what is the average age of those who visit this site.) Not everything must be bang, bang shoot 'em up, however. A look at the Oxford University Press Web site ( shows a good selection of reference books and dictionaries on CD-ROM, including the ultimate - the Oxford English Dictionary on CD-ROM. This comes in both PC and Mac formats and will cost about GBP250 (HK$3,227). Other titles include the Concise Oxford Dictionary (PC format only, unfortunately) and several foreign- language and scientific dictionaries.

It is difficult to look at CD-ROM software and not mention Riven. Although it came out about a year ago, it is still one of the most popular games available. As the sequel to Myst, Riven pushes the limit on non-violent games that create an atmosphere that is quite intriguing.

It may no longer be the newest game in town, but there is nothing quite like it. Another good thing about it is that it runs on both PC and Mac.

Christmas is often a time to look at serious gifts as well as fun ones. There is plenty around in both categories and, those who have worried about the lack of software for the Mac, may find that the popularity of the iMac means that more titles will be coming out for that platform.