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Just finished Mission Critical and was impressed (a review)


Nov 14, 2007
Project: Eternity
I just finished Mission Critical and was surprised by how well this game has aged.

Mission Critical is a point & click adventure made by Legend, released in 1995. It uses a first person perspective with pre-rendered and 2d art backgrounds, and has FMV sequences, starring Michael Dorn, aka. Lt. Worf, in one of the main roles (cpt. Danya).

In contrast to many other games of the period, The FMV sequences are executed really well. They aren't silly, and actually look quite cool. The acting isn't too bad, with Dorn clearly outclassing the other actors.

The setting and plot have an note of 80ies and 90ies hard science-fiction to it. It is SF that is meant to explore a few serious themes. This is done in a fashion that brings Star Trek TNG to mind: a heavy reliance on techno-babble and three letter abbreviations, an impressive amount of which appears throughout the game. Having said that, the story does touch upon some interesting themes: the dangers of technology, artificial life, time travel, and politics relating to these issues. Some of the assumptions of 90ies SF are also clearly present, most notably the unbridled belief in technological progress as a solution for all of humanities' problems.

The whole thing shows an unified vision, it is very apparent it was written and directed by one person. It features some cool ideas, such as the probably correct idea that space battles would be fought mostly with unmanned drones. Towards the ending the whole plot veers off into quite conceptual territory including AI, time travel, and alternate timelines.

Story: The story is set in the distant future. For years, a war has been raging across Earth and its colonies, between two factions: the "Alliance" and the... UN. Yes, the United Nations, the real one we have today, Blue Helms and all. The UN rules the whole world. A small faction, the Alliance, have rebelled against the rule of the UN.

This uprising started due to a disagreement about the use of technology. Interestingly, the UN are portrayed as being anti-tech. They see technology as a threat to humankind. For example, in a side story it is shown that nano-technologies have progressed to such a degree that artificial micro-organisms can dissolve humans in a matter of seconds. The UN feels a halt needs to be put on technological advances. The Alliance, on the other hand, accepts technology as the only way in which humankind can progress and overcome its problems.

The Alliance have discovered a mysterious signal coming from an presumably abandoned planet Persephone. An elite vessel is sent to investigate. In orbit around the planet, it comes under attack by an UN ship. Captain Danya is forced to surrender the whole crew, leaving only the player alive.

Awakened on the deserted ship, you are faced with a number of problems: hull breaches, computers offline, decks not accessible... and meanwhile, a mystery unfolds as to what happened. I found it quite fun to navigate through these puzzles and to slowly unveil the story. This is done mostly in an "audio-log" fashion; listening to recordings, reading documents But it is not repetitive or tedious, as the story is engaging and is presented with attention to detail. For instance, most documents are graphically presented in a different style.

Some nice ideas that appear in the game in the spoiler tag:

A bio-electronic weapons system. The operator ingests a drug, altering his mind, and then connects his brain to the computer, allowing him to operate a drone weapons system that is used by ingesting a drug, which speeds up the human mind in order to interface with a computer and operate drones. I thought this was a cool idea, haven't seen this in other SF works (let me know if this appears elsewhere)

Gameplay and presentation: The games' interface has aged quite well. Without exaggeration I would say there is no hurdle at all for a modern gamer to play this game, it's basic point'n'click action.
I feel the 90ies 3D graphics are not as jarring as with many other games. Midway through the game the environments suddenly change to excellently executed 2D art.

The music, while not being particularly noteworthy, is still very good at setting the atmosphere. I found myself enjoying wandering lonely though the spaceship, listening to the ambient soundtrack.

Movement is done by clicking arrows - the small animation which plays showing the player's movement can be easily skipped by clicking twice, which is a great quality-of-life feature, as it makes the gameplay less tedious. Objects are collected and show in a bar at the bottom of the screen. Interaction is done by clicking text options. All in all, a very smooth experience.

One of the biggest strengths of the game is the way in which puzzles are integrated into the storyline and gameplay. The games' puzzles are almost all very logical - both in their solutions, as well as the reasons for why these hurdles appear in the player's journey. There is no weird unexpected logic that a lot of adventure games exhibited in the time. Almost all the puzzles can be solved following a clear logic, they just make sense. The challenges that are being presented to the player also have a logical cause and don't seem to be conjured out of thin air. The game really stands out because of this (curious to hear the resident Codexer adventure experts' opinion on this).

A mention needs to be made of the mini-games. There are a few throughout the game; and as said before, they are well integrated in the storyline, and present logical challenges and solutions. These are variations on already known puzzles, such as the water-flow puzzle, where a flow needs to be established by connecting pipes. Or one where through trial-and-error you need to set up a connection relay. One of the minigames stands out however, both positively and negatively.

Halfway through the game a RTS mini-game appears. It has been criticized as being too primitive, and arbitrarily tacked-on to the game. I found it however impressive to see how far the developers went: It features a full 3D space battle arena, including planets and capital ships; multiple different units, adjustable time speed, different weaponry, different scenarios featuring varied tactics. It's no Homeworld but it's pretty cool for an adventure game. Actually even in the RTS genre from this period I don't recall many other games having a full 3D battlefield.

Mission Critical is a very good adventure game that doesn't get mentioned too often. Give it a whirl. Highly recommended if you are a fan of the genre and this one flew under your radar. Game can be got for a few bucks on Gog.

Any recommendations for other adventures to play after this one?

Non-spoiler screenshots, from the beginning of the game:







Screens of RTS minigame:




Screenshots of further parts of the game (SPOILERS):













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Nov 14, 2007
Project: Eternity
Just played this one, will try the other Legend games soon. Thanks!

Morpheus Kitami

May 14, 2020
Interesting, I dismissed Legend's output previously because I'm not a fan of their style of humor, this one actually sounds very good.


Apr 10, 2013
I remember having troubles adapting to the UI.
But it was a good game.

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