Review: The X-Files
Published by: Fox Interactive
Rated: Teen 13+
List Price: $54
120 MHz PPC (180 MHz recommended)
12 MB RAM w/VM, 18 MB RAM w/o VM (32 MB recommended)
QuickTime 3.0 (included), 250 MB hard disk space
Thousand of colors (Millions recommended) at 640 by 480
4x CD-ROM (8x recommended)
In a move that could only be conceived by somebody's marketing department, The X-Files game was released almost concurrently with the movie. If you're a fan of the hit television series (as I am), this is good news for you. You'll have more than enough of The X-Files to get you through to the next season. If, however, you are the type of person that is only passively interested in the show, you might think that this is a bit too much. For those of you in the latter group, let me put your minds at ease: The X-Files game is a wonderful game and anybody who is a fan of Myst- and Journeyman Project-style games should pick up a copy of this game immediately.
In the game, you play the role of Agent Craig Willmore, an agent in the Seattle, WA, branch of the FBI. You have been selected to aid Assistant Director Skinner in the search for the missing Mulder and Scully, who were following a lead in the Washington area. As opposed to other games, in which all that matters is solving the puzzles presented throughout the course of the game, your actions also influence Agent Willmore's personal and professional life. The way you treat people influences everything from your partner's willingness to assist in your search to your estranged wife's attitude towards you.
Unlike many other games of this genre, The X-Files game uses actual sets, as opposed to computer-generated imagery. The sets look like they came directly from an episode of The X-Files. The sets are exceptionally complete, and you can examine just about any object that is present. The objects range from the journal in Agent Willmore's bedroom to the leftover orange juice and vodka in Mulder's abandoned hotel room. The sets are also filled with references to X-Files episodes. Any 'true' X Files fan will recognize these references. (I'll admit, I cheated. I used the excellent Prima Strategy Guide, which lists all the aforementioned references and explains their significance. I never would have found half of the references without the book.)
Pay attention to the little things littered throughout the game and don't be afraid to look around. I spent a good deal of time trying to figure out Agent Willmore's computer password when it was sitting in plain sight--I just never bothered to look for it.
No review of the X-Files game would be complete without mentioning how you can interact with characters. First, you can choose from numerous questions to ask the people you meet. When you speak with somebody, the game pulls together the correct QuickTime movies. I really only have two complaints with this scheme. First, there is a minor lag between QuickTime movies. It's not really noticeable on a G3, but I would guess that it is the main reason for the game's requirements: 120 MHz PPC (180 MHz PPC recommended).
My second complaint is more of a nit pick: since the game does not know in which order the questions will be asked, the discussion loses the feel of a conversation. Like I said, I'm really just picking nits, but it does cause the game feel a bit less polished than a TV episode read from a script. Another unique feature is the ability to use emotion in your dealings with people. During some conversations, you will be presented with three icons. Each icons represents an emotion. What you say to the person you are speaking with will be determined by the emotion that you click. Likewise, their response to you will be dictated by your emotional state. This is another time when the game pulls together QuickTime movies on the fly. Although there are some negative aspects to the swapping of QuickTime movies, they are far outweighed by the positives: namely emotions and non-linear conversations.
Several other features of the game deserve mention. First, there is the Intuition feature. If you have intuition turned on, a small blue icon will appear in the top right corner of the screen. Clicking on this icon will give you a hint to what you should do next. The second feature is Subliminal Messages. Supposedly, turning this feature on will occasionally flash messages on the screen, although I have yet to see any of these messages.
Another feature is the direct result of Steve Jobs trimming of Apple's product line: buy the game for $50 and get a Newton Message Pad and a QuickTake Camera for free! Well, not exactly, but both the Newton and the QuickTake play prominent roles in your bag of spy tools. I must admit, it's nice to see the Apple logo prominently displayed (but I must imagine it irks Mr. Gates to see these devices used in the Windows version included on this hybrid disk).
The X-Files game is an excellent game that will please both fans of the show and fans of the Myst-type games. Granted, the Myst fans may not get some of the jokes, but they will enjoy the game. The X-Files fans will enjoy this game because it holds true to the series. Even though Scully and Mulder are not present until the end, there are still appearances by Skinner, CSM, and the Lone Gunmen. Also, the game begins the same way as the television episodes: a short introduction followed by the opening credits. Do yourself a favor and watch the intro--don't just hit escape. The intro shows you some things that come in handy during the game.
Remember--the truth is out there. It's up to you to find it.