Preview - Mission Critical (DOS, 1995)

Whether you're talking about computer adventure games or any other kind of narrative form, the beginning is usually a little slower going to give the player or reader or viewer a chance to get used to the story. Only after this setup does the tension eventually build to a crisis moment. Legend's upcoming science fiction adventure, Mission Critical, does not follow this pattern at all. From the beginning, the player is thrown into a harrowing crisis. In the game's introduction, a great space battle is being fought, and when the smoke clears and the game proper begins, the player character is the only survivor on board his ship. What's more, the vessel is in terrible condition and the player knows that the enemy will be back with reinforcements to finish the job.

But first, a little history. After a hundred years of peace, the Earth has plummeted once again into vicious conflict, dragging its colony planets down with it. The United Nations, which had taken on the role as a world government, became repressive and corrupt. This led to a group of nations and colony worlds forming the New Republic Alliance and fighting a desperate struggle for independence.

In the year 2134, a United Nations listening post picked up a maser transmission consisting of a series of repeating pulses from Nihal, a star located 320 light years from Earth. The pulses were analyzed and found to contain a set of space coordinates describing an elliptical orbit. The Alliance was listening in on the news of this discovery, and while the UN argued about how to proceed, they frantically organized and launched an expedition to reach the specified location. This expedition consisted of the Canadian Starship Jericho, a science vessel outfitted for exploration and first contact, and an escort, the United States Navy Cruiser USS Lexington.

As soon as the UN learned about the New Republic's expedition, they panicked at the thought of the implications. Anxious to prevent any new advantage on the Alliance side, they sent military warships to intercept the Jericho and the Lexington.

This is where you come in.

You are a crew member of the escort ship, the Lexington. After the first wave of attacking UN ships, all your fellow crew members have either been killed or escaped in the life pods. There are no more life pods, the weapons systems are down, the fusion engines are headed for overload and the UN are coming back. You've got two choices: get busy on repairs or pray like you've never prayed before.

Assuming (and this is a big assumption) that you ultimately manage to repair the ship's weapons, figure out how to operate them and fend off who knows how many ever increasing waves of warships, you will be the only one around who can complete the original mission and travel to the coordinates designated in the mysterious transmission, an unexplored world 68 light years from Earth. There you will make a stunning discovery that could end the 15 years of interplanetary war and forever change humanity's relationship with the universe. Pretty nifty, huh?

On top of the intense storyline, the player will be treated to some truly spectacular visuals. The game is presented in crisp 640 x 480 Super VGA. The interior of the USS Lexington has been modeled using 3D Studio. Movement between rooms consists of animated, smooth-scrolling transition sequences with the same flavor as The 7th Guest. Also, the characters will be shown in full-motion video with professional actors bringing a more realistic feel to the drama.

Legend has also spent a great deal of effort refining the space combat system. This is good to know, since it sounds like it will take a long time to get past that part of the game anyway. The system revolves around the premise that space combat takes place far too fast for a mere human to do all the fighting. The Lexington was initially equipped with nine multi-role drones for this purpose. Two of the drones were destroyed in the first battle, so the player is left with seven drones to arm and deploy as he sees fit.

Mission Critical will combine adventure game, simulation and interactive movie. Legend promises that it will not only be an intense and entertaining product, but that it will define a new genre. This is a quite a claim, but even if it just falls into the old, established adventure genre, Mission Critical will be well worth picking up when it hits the shelves in the Spring.

Play the demo for this game directly in your browser