''With the advent of the [[AppliedPhlebotinum critical mass engine,]] mankind began its [[WagonTrainToTheStars exploration of the stars]], and wherever man went, [[HumansAreWarriors war was sure to follow.]]''

A [[{{Two-DSpace}} top-down]] [[TurnBasedStrategy Turn-Based]] [[TheSquad squad-based]] [[ThirdPersonShooter shooter]] [-[[RecycledInSpace IN SPACE]]-]. A Windows game by Sean O'Conner that allows a player to take control of the head pilot of a small-but-elite squad of fighters, and complete missions in order to get better ships, so you can complete harder missions, and repeat the process. Unique in that it allows the player to make their own ships and missions. If you can imagine the lovechild of ''VideoGame/StarControlII'' and a turn-based strategy game you might not be too far off.

Not to be confused with ''Videogame/CriticalMass2011'', a [[SimilarlyNamedWorks totally unrelated video game of the same name]].

A demo (and, if you like it, the whole game) can be found [[http://www.windowsgames.co.uk/critical.html here]].
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!!This game provides examples of:

* {{AFGNCAAP}}: Your character gets a last name and a callsign. Your squadmates [[TheoryOfNarrativeCausality don't even get names]].
* [-[[AirJousting SPACE]]-] [[AirJousting Jousting]]: A viable, but usually suicidal technique for hitting an enemy ship.
* AllThereInTheManual: There's not much there, but what there is barely ever comes up in-game.
* AuthorityEqualsAsskicking
* BloodKnight: The best (though definitely not safest) way to climb the ranks, as the point gap between mission success and mission failure can be closed, and actually overcome, with only one or two kills. It's not impossible to get 5+ on some of the enemy-heavy missions.
* BraggingRightsReward: What's the reward for going through 30+ missions perfectly, succeeding each one, and racking up more kills than [[GodIsEvil God]]? When you die, that character's record goes up on the "Roll of Honour", the game's high score list (which only keeps track of the scores on your computer).
* ButThouMust: There is no option to refuse a mission. If you get a mission, it's going on your record, success or fail.
* CriticalExistenceFailure: Averted, and played straight at the same time. As your ship's parts get damaged, they begin to lose abilities (turn radius, speed, missile launchers), but if all your cockpit parts are destroyed, your ship [[MadeOfExplodium explodes violently,]] regardless of how much or little damage the ship otherwise has.
* CriticalHit: Sort of. It's not unheard of for a ship to hit you at an odd angle, bypass most of your shields, and, by chance, destroy all of your Command Center parts, bringing you from 'full health' to 'spectacular explosion' in one turn.
* DiskOneNuke: The most expensive ship you can use at the start of the game is 116 points. This has become the ''de facto'' standard point cost for ship design.
* EndlessGame: Only ends when [[FinalDeath your pilot is killed.]]
* EnemyDetectingRadar: A ship part that functions directionally on the side it's installed on. They're cheap, useful, and somewhat non-essential, making them good filler for construction slots, especially when paired with extra command centers to prevent CriticalExistenceFailure.
* EscortMission: Half the game's missions are these.
** The other half are search-and-destroy missions, [[NotSoDifferent the exact opposite of said Escort Missions]].
* ExcusePlot: [[WebAnimation/ZeroPunctuation Here's your story:]] [[WebAnimation/ZeroPunctuation Ships over there.]] ''[[WebAnimation/ZeroPunctuation Kill they ass.]]''
* FakeDifficulty: The game isn't easy to begin with, and then you have to deal with your [[AIIsACrapshoot allies]] [[FriendlyFireproof hitting you more often than the enemies]].
* FantasticRacism: Apparently the only difference between you and your enemies is the color you paint your ships, and some unique, species-specific ships.
** If the names are what they appear to be (Merikons = Americans, Zyans = Asians), then the Racism isn't even Fantastic.
* FasterThanLightTravel: Hyperspace, but it takes 8 turns to charge, and can only be used to leave the battle.
* FinalDeath: If you don't eject before your ship is destroyed, or your escape pod is shot down, your save file is deleted.
* ForMassiveDamage: A ship is always less shielded in the rear, as rear shielding costs several times more than front or side. Thus, even a couple of weak missiles fired into a ship's tailplate can cripple it.
* FragileSpeedster: The "Fear" chain of ships, which have a 70-degree turn radius and dog-fighting-favoring missiles, but almost no shields.
* FriendlyFireproof: Averted. Your allies are just as much of a hazard as your enemies.
* GlassCannon: The "Bug" chain of ships, all of which are essentially just a large number of missiles slapped to an engine.
** The Hornet, the biggest "Bug", is an especially glaring case. It has decent front shields, and some side shielding, but has only a single engine in the rear, so any shot from behind is going to seriously ruin your day, if not outright kill you.
* GrayAndGrayMorality: How do you fight enemies who blow up your hospitals, shoot down your in-training pilots, and threaten to wipe you off the face of the galaxy? [[NotSoDifferent By doing the exact same thing to them.]]
* JackOfAllStats: The "Heathen" and "Whirlwind" chains are both relatively balanced, but with different emphases.
* KobayashiMario: The missions never run out. You just keep flying them until you die.
* LightningBruiser: The "Whirlwind" chain of ships.
* LuckBasedMission: All of them, to a certain extent. If you want to last long, you have to learn that sometimes it's OK to turn tail and run if the enemy got the jump on you.
* MacrossMissileMassacre: Ships like the Raven, with four launchers and stacks of seeking missiles, are more than capable of it. Sometimes seems to be [[NintendoHard the only way to score a hit]].
* MadeOfExplodium: Ships explode violently when destroyed.
** This could be either [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] or [[HandWave Hand Waved]] by the [[AppliedPhlebotinum unstable nature of the Critical Mass engines]].
*** And the fact that the power of your missiles' warheads are rated in [[NukeEm Megatons]].
* MidairRepair: Mid-[-[[RecycledInSpace SPACE]]-] repair, the closest thing the game has to a GameBreaker.
* MissionBriefing: Also where you pick out your ships for that mission.
* MohsScaleOfSciFiHardness: Generally fairly hard.
* MoreDakka: The "Hawk" chain of ships, whose entire goal is to throw as many missiles out into the air as possible, and hope that a few of them hit something.
* NintendoHard
* NotSoDifferent: See GreyAndGrayMorality and KickTheDog.
* OneHitPointWonder: Escape pods can be destroyed by a single hit of the weakest missile.
** Every part and shield is also a OneHitPointWonder, with how many are destroyed per hit decided semi-randomly based on missile strength and hit location.
* RuleOfCool: How come SpaceIsNoisy when the rest of the game averts most SpaceIsAnOcean tropes? This is why.
* SpaceFriction: Averted. A ship without rear engines cannot speed up or slow down, until it hits something.
* SpaceIsNoisy: Played straight. Handwave it with it being produced by the ships, or just RuleOfCool, and move on.
* TheSquad: Varying in size from three to seven.
** Can be brought lower, but there's no benefit to it.
* StealthInSpace: Of the 'disrupts radar' variety.
* VideoGameCrueltyPotential: Allies kill you one too many times? Shoot them to your heart's content, they don't fire back.
* WeHaveReserves: The "Drone" chain of ships, which are like the Bugs, except without the [[GlassCannon "Cannon"]] part.