I've been doing a bit of theorycrafting about 3.5 and pathfinder lately, and a thought struck me about critical hits that got me thinking more about their use in play. Critical hits are clearly a good thing to have in the game; they add moments of excitement and can swing a fight unpredictably, which can be a fun experience. My problem is with the critical confirmation roll.
I've noticed a pattern of behavior among the people who I've played with whenever someone rolls a natural 20 (or other potential critical hit) in combat. The group gets excited, and then noticeably tempers their enthusiasm when they remember that the roll must still be confirmed. If the confirmation roll is a failure, then the group is noticeably disappointed.
I think that it would be a benefit to play to allow a critical threat to instead be a critical hit, and forgo the extra roll and reduction in enthusiasm that this causes. It feels like it's almost a pacing problem. Where I would want the enthusiasm to rise to a crescendo, instead enthusiasm rises, falls quickly, then either rises quickly again or falls further. I feel that this isn't great from an emotional pacing point of view.
My question is this: What would the removal of critical confirmation rules do to the game? How would it affect characters and players? Are there reasons to keep the confirmation rules that I'm not thinking of?