Computer Video Memory Disk Space CD-ROM Minimum 386 33MHz 8-bit 4MB 10MB 150KB/s Max/Rec. 486 25MHz 16-bit 8MB 14.4MB 300KB/s Control: Keyboard, Mouse Sound: 8-bit Windows compatible Notes: PC- or MS-DOS 5.0 or later; Windows 3.1 required running in 386 enhanced; Reviewed version 1.04 on: P5-60, 16MB RAM, SB16, and Sony 2x CD Reviewer recommends: 486/66, 8MB RAM, 16-bit sound cards
CRITICAL PATH is a new multimedia game that takes advantage of the windows environment to combine sound with realistic graphics. It is CD-ROM only, and its hardware requirements are quite high. It delivers some qualities we will probably be seeing the in future of gaming, namely full motion video with speech. On a side note, this game does not use subtitles, which may be difficult if you are hearing impaired, or if your sound card seems impaired.
At the start of the game, you meet Kat, the main character of the game, who is played by Eileen Weisinger. It starts with the familiar post apocalyptic world ravaged by disease and nuclear devastation. You and your band of survivors must find a haven to shield yourself from all this destruction. So you, along with Kat and some other survivors pack up and head out in helicopters to find refuge. However, your chopper has some mechanical problems and you are forced to land on an island, but on this island resides the evil General Minh and his henchmen. Immediately you are attacked, and Kat's helicopter goes down, while you land on the building, separated from her. To escape from the island, Kat needs to reach your helicopter with the part you need to repair it. In order to do this, you must help Kat get through the building you landed on alive.
Now the game begins.
You manage to find yourself in a control room atop the building. To your left, you see Kat over the Military Communications Link (MCL), pursued by Minh's men. Quickly she tosses a grenade to open a path into the building, and you watch through her head mounted camera. Now in this control room lies a detonator, a control panel, the monitor that you view things, Minh's notebook, and the MCL which you use to communicate to Kat. Inside the factory lies many traps, and you use the detonator and the control panel to set them off, and Minh's notebook tells you how to set them off. The objective is to neutralize Kat's pursuers, without killing Kat in the process. You must also advise which path Kat should take through the MCL, which has arrows, and a "yes" and "no" response button. With these tools, Kat should survive the ordeal.
My first impression was that this game was what multimedia was supposed to be. This game used full motion video unlike any game before it. Digitized actors with lip synching were very impressive, as well as the high resolution the game used. However, some limitations became obvious after a few minutes of play. Beyond button-pushing, there was no other way to affect the outcome of a given event. There is no alternate story line, basically you solve the puzzle or you won't move forward. I began to get the impression that this was little more than a movie disguised as a game, but it was fun to watch. The puzzles themselves are just a matter of finding which buttons to push at the right time. To do that, you must read Minh's notebook, decipher his bad handwriting, and figure out what buttons he pushed at what locations. The puzzles are not hard, but it's designed with the idea that you should keep dying a thousand deaths before you hit the right combinations.
Overall, this game kept me entertained for a week, so you might hear complaints that this game doesn't have much play value. I agree that it does seem rather short, because it can be finished in less that half and hour once you know all the answers. In its defense I have to say that its animation and sound are high quality. In the future, I'd expect to see more games of this nature, but hopefully, game play would be more of a priority than art or novelty.This review is Copyright (C) 1994 by Edward Lan for Game Bytes Magazine. All rights reserved.