This review intended for the Windows version.
Released before the advent and popularization of 3Dfx capability, Critical Path is a highly playable, not-too-difficult, adventure that puts you in the shoes of a downed helicopter crewman who must direct the actions of the main character, Kat. You accomplish this through use of a panel that is part video screen, part input keyboard, part switchboard that controls machinery Kat encounters in her attempt to escape the building she's trapped in, and part communications device. Most of the panel's keyboard input focuses on codes discovered in the control room and requires specific usage at appropriate times to make Kat's excursion possible by activating switches, elevators and weapons when needed. The overall storyline is fairly simple and in terms of computer adventuring games, extremely short. Most gamers, especially those with some experience in this type of game, should be able to complete the entire game in less than three hours, tops. Some of the puzzles in the game are not particularly difficult and others require only a trial and error approach, such as guiding Kat across elevated walkways (catwalks, no pun intended) to solve. Once all the elements have been mastered, a replay could quite possibly be done in less than an hour.
Visually, Critical Path is an impressive product to view. Using high resolution (at least 256 colors) in a Windows environment with a 486 processor (although designed for use on a 386/33), the game fairly sizzles along. The interface is very friendly and both mouse and keyboard are fully supported and operable. The game runs mainly from the CD drive (minimum of double speed required, quad speed recommended) and bafflingly still uses a fat ten plus megabytes on the harddrive. Not to worry since the game probably won't be installed all that long anyway. The game also seems to be nearly bug-free which is a plus. Critical Path is one of the most aptly named games to come along as almost the entire thrust of the game is to have Kat follow that critical path to escape. The actual action in the game occurs through a series of relatively disjointed mini-sequences, each containing a puzzle of sorts to master before moving on to the next segment. Most of the challenge simply rests on figuring out how to solve each of these mini-puzzles and then executing it to perfection. There is limited interaction with opposing enemy fire but not enough to consider this any sort of military simulation.
Mission Critical's real niche is probably as a learning tool for wannabe computer gamers. There's enough action to provide veteran gamers a very short diversion but not nearly enough to be considered as a long-term project. What Mission Critical does, it does well although the short story doesn't necessarily justify the investment of top dollars that could be well spent on something with a bit more "byte" to it.
Graphics: Very nicely done, especially running in 256 color or higher.
Sound: A bit above average with effective sound effects and decent voice acting.
Enjoyment: Although enjoyable, the game is simply too short. One of the highlights is the inspired acting done by actress Eileen Weisinger who plays the lead character Kat.
Replay Value: Short enough to replay in quick fashion but not enough of a lasting challenge to recommend it. Once the Critical Path is worked out, nothing new remains to discover.
You and a female fellow soldier called Kat are stranded on the roof of a factory on an island in a post-nuclear world. Your pilot is dead and your helicopter needs a small but vital part. You are wounded, so Kat is the only person who can find the missing part, and to do so she has to enter the building that crawls with madmen led by General Minh. From the Control Room where you are hiding you can help her, so you may have a chance to survive.
Critical Path is an interactive movie with action-based sequences, in which the main character Kat has to shoot, fight, set traps etc. It also has puzzle-solving elements as you, as the wounded soldier in the Control Room, have to enter codes and push buttons to help her survive. Kat starts with nine lives. When she looses a life, the player can continue with one less life or reload an earlier part of the game (automatically saved; the game has no saving slots). When all nine lives are used up, Kat dies and Minh kills you in the Control Room. In this room you will find Minh's notebook with clues and instructions about the workings in the factory and his special traps.
How to run this game on modern Windows PC?
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