January 30, 2007

Critical Overflow

Okay, Critical Path, let’s get something straight up front: I don’t like you and you don’t like me. But I need screenshots from you to feed into your MobyGames entry. So let’s just hurry up and get this over with. Deal?

But noooooooCritical Path isn’t going to make life easy for me, is it? Why should it? The program needs to be properly installed to the hard drive via a setup.exe utility which reliably fails out with this dialog no matter what:


Critical Path -- Overflow

I even tried it in the Windows 95 VMware image I keep around for these types of emergencies. Darn you, Critical Path, you just had to slight me one last time, didn’t you?

You might be curious about my longstanding feud with this game. I discovered it early in my days of buying old, cheap video games for the purpose of studying multimedia. This game certainly didn’t disappoint in that department– it relied on a variety of basic multimedia formats to achieve its aim. However, when I used a QuickTime-capable player to play through all of the .mov files, I was quite stunned by what I saw or, more to the point, what I didn’t see. I didn’t see significant substance, gameplay, or any particular length of play. I believe this is the first time I really saw an interactive movie in action (sort of) and I would never have quite the same rosy outlook on life.

Here are the details: It’s a post-apocalyptic world — nuclear devastation or some such — and you’re part of a military outfit that’s trying to transport survivors to a safe zone. You are a faceless male. Your copilot is Kat, played by a stuntwoman by the name of Eileen Weisinger (apparently the game’s biggest selling point). Your craft is shot down over some island. You’re still faceless and injured but are now situated at some control console for the island’s base. You have full voyeuristic control of all the cameras in the facility as well as some of the other mechanical gear.


Critical Path -- Swinging Kat
Fortunately (?), the CD-ROM provides some slideshow stills.

Your job as the faceless, injured cohort is to guide Kat through the base. According to the FMV sequences I viewed, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. There are areas where hordes of orange jumpsuited mutants are closing in on you. You have to find the right console button to activate a machine gun to take them all down. In another juncture, Kat is hanging on to a crane hook and you have to navigate her to safety vs. boiling lava. Remember, this is all accomplished with FMV.


Critical Path -- Orange Mutants

I would hate for you, the reader, to go away without a deeper understanding of what the game’s video is like. So here’s the trailer for Critical Path that comes on the CD-ROM. This is the final insult– YouTube can’t even convert the QuickTime file properly. There are a lot of skipped frames but you’ll still get the gist.



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Posted by under Interactive Movies,Windows Games | Comments (5)

5 Comments »

  1. I found that the problem is the game is looking for CRITPATH.INI in the C:\WINDOWS folder – so I copied the files from the CD to the hard drive, the CRITPATH.INI file from the CD to the C:\WINDOWS folder, then edited the file to contain the following:

    [Critical Path]
    CDPath=D:\
    HDPath=c:\critpath\
    BitDepth=24
    SETUP=1
    GATES=1
    G0= 0
    G1= 9
    G2= 9
    G3= 9
    G4= 9
    G5= 9
    G6= 9
    G7= 9
    G8= 9
    G9= 9
    G10= 9
    G11= 9
    G12= 9

    Unfortunantly, under XP the game still won’t load. I dont have a 95 VM to try it with (yet) either.

    Comment by D Hawthorn — April 16, 2007 @ 4:27 am

  2. Oh, gee! I will never forget ‘the fight’ I had with this game. Still have it in shelf, sometimes thinking…but no :)

    Comment by Peken — February 18, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

  3. what are you talking about?
    critical path works great on windows xp.
    i am playing it right now. ;)
    in fact, i believe that running critical path on xp is the best thing to in the earth.
    i tried what you guys did and yeah i got the OVERFLOW thing, but then i switched the setup.exe file to win95 compatibility and said run w/ 640×480 and 256 colors.
    setup ran great and i installed the 8 bit version. (works best :) )
    i then switched the critpath.exe to same compat settings and it worked awesomely. didn’t expect it to work though what with all this “windows 3.1 only” bullskite.

    just thought you oughta know.

    Comment by Andrew — March 17, 2008 @ 8:31 am

  4. Darn you, Andrew. Now I may actually have to play that abomination of a game. :-)

    Comment by Multimedia Mike — March 17, 2008 @ 8:36 am

  5. I just got this game free from a friend.

    Do not run the 8 bit version.

    I figured out what you need to do to run the 24 bit version.

    The game doesn’t seem to like displays with 32 bit color. If your Windows desktop is set to 32 bit color, change it to 16 bit color. Now put a bit depth of 24 in critpath.ini and set compatibility mode to not force 256 colors. It’ll now work with lots of colors!

    Comment by Ken Arromdee — January 8, 2009 @ 10:03 pm

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