Written by Pat Kerley
Welcome to Gaming Through the Years where we take a look back at older games that deserve some love (or games that deserve to be hit with a sledgehammer before disposing of the game in the most remote area you know, where it will not be fit to harm a human being!)
Now I consider myself an optimistic reviewer, even if I don’t like a game personally, I try to see the positives that it may hold for other people.
Unfortunately, my optimism decided to pack its backs and run for the hills far away. Why do you ask? I decided to play a little game for the PlayStation 1 called Critical Combat or Criticom for short and now I’m questioning my sanity!
Criticom is a 3D fighter that released way back in 1995 in the USA and released in 1996 for Japan and Europe. It even got released for the Sega Saturn in 1997 and it was developed by Kronos Digital Entertainment who is no longer among the game developing world. The game did have a tight schedule of only six months for it to be completed and having found that out I can start to see why my time with this game was so horribly unpleasant.
Credit where Credit is Due!
The game starts with a rather good looking FMV that delivers an interesting premise, even if it is deceptive and makes it look like some sort of war game. Basically, there is this thing called the ‘relic’ that is immensely powerful and was used to subjugate other races.
However, the relic is stolen after a long time of peace, and basically, warriors go out in search of the Relic to gain its power. The big problem with this opening honestly has to be the voice-over which is so drôle and uninspiring that it kind of takes away from the FMV and makes it seem boring, even with explosions happening on screen.
And then they keep the same dull as dishwater voice to relay the stories of the characters when they are introduced. It’s a damm shame because these cutscenes are nice to look at for a game that came out in 1995. Some of the character designs look interesting but most are simply decent or bland to lay your eyes on.
This is the best the game has to offer, its FMVs are downright solid, yet the rest of the presentation didn’t even receive a fraction of the same effort.
But that’s only a small problem in this mess of a game.
Let’s dive in deep and see where this game goes horribly wrong to the point of calling it a disaster would be a compliment of the highest degree! And that is the gameplay.
This game seems to do everything wrong. Controls don’t seem to pick up your input half the time and when they do it feels like every hit took an extra second or two for your character to actually attack.
You have a handful of attacks with punches and kicks corresponding to their own buttons but if you were hoping to create a combo out of them then you are sadly mistaken, there are no combos. The attacks are slow and sluggish and honestly lack any impact what so ever. Everything in this game is so bloody slow that it makes fights agonizingly painful to endure.
You do have special attacks that each character has which correlates to the shoulder buttons of R1 and R2 but the problem is the game doesn’t inform you of this and it has no way to check the move list in the game.
If that isn’t bad enough, certain characters might only use R1 or R2 and they have to be used with other buttons in order for the move to work, otherwise, your character stands there doing nothing. So, you have to be careful when using them, because if you hold R1 and then press triangle and it’s not an input for a special move not even your basic attack will work.
Luckily, I had the trusty manual for this game which has the move set for all characters. However, it still gets worse, the camera, the god awful camera is the worst I’ve ever seen in a fighting game before. It has a mind of its own and can circle around while the fight takes place, meaning at certain points your directional buttons can change instantly and instead of blocking you can walk straight into an attack!
All the stages are circular in design and are all the same except for a slightly different coat of paint, which makes the game feel even more lifeless! How did they look at this uncontrollable fire of pure rubbish and go ‘this is good enough lads’ my mind is baffled at how this game came to be, it simply doesn’t make sense. This game has functions, when you press buttons sometimes the do something, but this is an unplayable, frustration! This game is so terribly bad that it made me question if I want to be a gamer anymore, it nearly undid all the goodwill I had towards gaming as a whole!
There’s no Escape!
There’s a two-player option, but even I’m not cruel enough to subject another human being to the atrocity of pure anguish and unfathomable desperation this game can induce. It’s just so bad. And here’s the kicker, if you decide to stumble into the two-player option by yourself, you’re going to have a near-impossible time getting back to the main menu, because there is no back button. Let that sink in now, you can’t escape two-player mode because no button exists to do so.
The music for this game exists, that’s about as much as I can say about it, it’s so thoroughly bland that it really doesn’t add much to the game yet fails to drag the game even further into the sheer disaster this game concocted.
Perhaps my incredibly horrific time spent playing this game has jaded me to the point that even if there were any positives the game had to offer I simply can’t see them. And you know what I don’t care because this game is very bad!
To me, it’s the equivalence of having ever known and unknown disease being injected into your body and having to live it for the rest of your life. The game can’t even save itself with the phrase so bad its good. It’s just pure bad. Yet somehow this game got sequels. How!?
So, that’s Criticom, easily the worst game I’ve ever played.
I honestly don’t think anything can beat it, it’s just so bad. If by some chance you see this game, I suggest you turn on your heels, go to the bathroom, get soap and scrub your eyes until the image of the game is washed away forever.
Criticom never deserves to see the light of day!