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Critical Path (Windows 3.x)

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70
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.2
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Zovni (9355)
Written on  :  Jan 27, 2005
Platform  :  Windows 3.x
Rating  :  2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars2 Stars

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Summary

Help Kat survive... for about 30 minutes.

The Good

As one of the first examples of the genre, Critical Path is actually one of the better interactive movies released, at least in the sense of how the premise is blended with the gameplay. While other "games" of this genre practically made no effort to hide the fact that it's all just a movie and you press the right button at the right time, Mechadeus instead crafted a gameworld around the fact that you have to watch a movie and interact with it, as they placed you in a command center from where you survey your fellow crash survivor Kat's exploits to escape an industrial/military complex. You see, both of you survived a helicopter crash on enemy ground, so in order to escape you are tasked with figuring out the controls in the command center while Kat acts as your woman on the field. The fact that she is supposed to be an individual character acting parallel to you helps sell the idea that you are not just watching a movie by justifying the strictly peripheral control you get on this kind of games, which is helped by the fact that Kat doesn't blindly follow what you tell her to do but instead acknowledges your ideas, asks for confirmations, etc.

In all, save for the Daedalus Encounter, this is one of the only interactive movies where I actually felt the whole premise of watching videos and interacting with them was justified and worked more or less perfectly.

Oh, and "Kat" has 9 lives... Har-har, developers are so clever!!!

The Bad

It's so early in the game that this is basically a demo for what an interactive movie could be, designed to showcase each possibility for interacting with videos, be it selective branching, Dragon's Lair-like interaction, etc... all in a package that will give you about 30 minutes worth of enjoyment... That's right. About 30 minutes.

I distinctly remember hearing about how this really was an industry demo that somehow got greenlighted for a commercial release, and while I don't know if that's 100% true, playing the game sure makes it feel that way. Some features are only used once, like the directional orders, or the yes/no communication system (which only works for a scene were a broken-down Kat ask if you "are still with me" to the player... answering either way makes no difference in case you were wondering, but I'm betting the concept of interacting with the character in such a way blew some stupid exec.'s head away).

Production values must also have been on a tight budget, as the whole thing ends up being a B-class action production with Lightwave or 3DStudio backgrounds instead of the cardboard sets usually used for this kind of direct-to-video stuff.

Besides that... it's an interactive movie, so that pretty much sums it up from a gameplay point of view.

The Bottom Line

It might sound crazy, but there was a day when getting a bunch of Quicktime clips and branching them with a graphic interface seemed like a good idea for selling a game. This is a product tailor-made for selling that idea to executives and game company suits, so it makes excellent collecting material, as industry demos are pretty hard finds nowadays (unless you count stuff like Quake as industry demos...har-har!)