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Video Game / Mission Critical

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Mission Critical is a 1995 first-person Adventure Game with RTS elements from Legend Entertainment. Gameplay Roulette was implemented fairly well here with the strategy elements being almost optional (the player can adjust the Difficulty Level from Easier Than Easy to Harder Than Hard on-the-fly). The game features Full Motion Video when interacting with people or during cutscenes and is prominent for casting Michael Dorn of the Star Trek: The Next Generation fame, as well as Patricia Charbonneau, best known from Desert Hearts (both being shown very little, as the game is not focused on interacting with people). The gameplay style is reminiscent of Myst, as it is in first person and the player has to search locations, uncovering the past. Unlike Myst, however, several critical puzzles are timed. Unfortunately, the timer is not shown, so the player is often left guessing. For example, the first puzzle involves preventing the meltdown of the ship's nuclear reactor. Also, if the player takes too long solving the puzzles necessary to start the strategy portion of the game, the game will end in a Nonstandard Game Over. The game also features an optional RTS portion, which involves the player directing the ship and its Attack Drones to destroy the enemy forces, made up of the same type of units.

The game's Backstory is fairly detailed, although finding out about it is not necessary to complete the game. You can read a summary of it and the game as a whole here.

The game contains examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Subverted, none of the AIs in the game or the backstory are evil. The ones that caused the UN to ban them were merely curious and the ELFs were defending themselves.
  • The Alliance: The Alliance of Free States.
  • Almighty Janitor: The player is a supply officer who is forced into this situation.
    • This is likely due to Captain Dayna being forced to leave a low-ranking crewmember behind as opposed to a senior officer, as the UN captain would get suspicious.
    • It's also mentioned in the backstory that you were specifically requested by Captain Dayna just before the mission left - you were reassigned so quickly that your name wasn't even entered into the printed crew manifest. He suspected a traitor as well, and presumably, you and Tran were the only two he could implicitly trust.
  • Attack Drone: The primary offensive and defensive space combat weapons of both the UN and the Alliance.
  • Auto-Doc: There's one in the Lexington's medical bay. It becomes useful later.
  • Bad Future: The result of the UN winning the war.
  • The Captain: Stephen R. Dayna.
  • Cold War: The ceasefire during the war was called the New Cold War.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In the backstory, one of the AIs builds mobile platforms to explore the world. The authorities freak out and send in the army, forcing the AI to start making armed robots. Before the situation can get any worse, the authorities destroy University of Chicago (where the AI was created) with an orbital cannon.
  • Doomsday Device: The Tal-Seto collapser.
  • Dyson Sphere: One exists in the future the player helps create courtesy of the now-godly ELFs.
  • End of the World as We Know It: Class X-3 on the Apocalypse How sliding scale: The Tal-Seto collapser destroys everything within several dozen lightyears of any star system attached to the Tal-Seto jump network, which corresponds to a pretty significant chunk of the galaxy. Once activated, it cannot be stopped.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: After re-establishing contact with Alliance Command, you are ordered to return to Alliance HQ. However, if you choose to obey that order, you are treated to a Non-Standard Game Over. The only way to continue the game is to disobey an order from an Admiral.
  • Full Motion Video: All humans are played by actors.
  • Fun with Acronyms: ELF stands for Electronic LifeForm.
  • Hyperspace Lanes: The Tal-Seto network. Originally assumed to cover the whole galaxy, but later fully mapped, revealing only a fraction of the galaxy to be part of it. The ELFs theorize that multiple such networks exist in the galaxy, but have no way of verifying without traveling to a system outside the network by sublight.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The alien technology that will decide who wins the war.
  • Kill Sat: At least one particle beam cannon is mentioned to be in Earth's orbit.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Lexington - the Battle of Lexington was one of the first engagements during the American Revolutionary War, signaling the start of the fight for freedom from tyranny.
    • Jericho - the city where the Hebrews ended up after being freed from Egyptian slavery.
    • Dharma - Hindu for "righteous duty". The UN feels they have to stop the Alliance before their ways result in the end of humanity.
    • Erebus - Greek god of darkness. The location of Alliance Command.
    • Prometheus - titan in Greek mythology that brought humans the gift of fire, sparking progress. In the game, the Prometheus colony was the site of the creation of the ELFs.
  • Mental Time Travel: Physical matter cannot be sent through time. However, it is possible to send pure data, which includes a thinking mind. At the end of the game the protagonist's mind is sent back to his body before the beginning of the game, to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.
  • Mini-Game: Preventing the reactor meltdown, fighting UN ships, solving the ELFs' puzzle.
  • Nano Machines: Hype. The player can also find the diary of a crewmember whose parents were killed by an accidental exposure to experimental nanites, which liquefied their internal organs. The crewmember and his brother saw the whole thing.
  • Number Two: Jennifer Tran.
  • Precursors: The unnamed and unseen aliens who built the ruins.
  • Robot War: Started by the humans, no less, who also "win" because of their willingness to destroy the galaxy to stop the ELFs. All together now: Humans Are Bastards.
  • Sensor Suspense: While it's not technically mandatory if the player already knows the path, it is strongly recommended that players find and bring a Geiger counter with them before traversing the radiation-flooded reactor spaces to reach Engineering for the first time in order to avoid a slow and painful death by radiation poisoning. Unfortunately, this only tells them (via loud screeching) if one or both of the access tunnels above or below them are hot. It won't tell the player which, making careful tracking of each of the four sectors on each level necessary from top to bottom.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The ELFs task the player to change the outcome of the war.
  • Spoiler Opening: The initial mystery of the game, specifically the crew's total absence bar the player, the ship's heavy damage, and why the player was left behind, are explained in the introductory video. Thankfully, this video is skippable.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: After connecting to the tactical station, the player is forced to fight UN ships in a Real-Time Strategy style.
  • United Nations Is a Superpower: Somehow, the United Nations becomes a legitimate government with its own military. Its member states are hardly ever mentioned.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Rewiring a person's brain via nanomachines in order to use the Hype/Telecon system will also lead to rapid deterioration of the brain and cause death within weeks.