I am a major X-Files fan, so when I found out that Fox Interactive was putting out an X-Files Game, I knew I had to have it. After a heated bidding war with the other GiN reviewers, I managed to convince the editor in chief that I was the best man for the job. Now I just have to wash his car once a week for the rest of the month. Fortunately for me, this game is worth it.
Once I finally laid my hands on the box, I was a little horrified to find seven CD’s inside. I had a sudden flash back to Riven where I had to switch CD’s every few seconds. But my horror was soon abated by the full install option. It took up 3.5 Gigs of my hard drive, but I did not have to change a CD once during the game. Once I solved the game I went back and played again with a normal install just to see how well Fox Interactive did with minimizing the requirement to change CD’s, and I think they handled the job very well. In other words, it’s nothing like Riven.
The main character in the game is an FBI agent named Craig Willmore. Through him, you get to interact with all of the major players in the show, including Agents Mulder and Scully, A.D. Skinner, and of course my favorite was getting to talk to the guys from the Lone Gunman (Byers, Langly and Frohike). There is even an appearance by the Cigarette Smoking Man, but I think that may only be if you screw up. Well, at least that’s how I got to see him. Getting to interact with Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) was by far the highlight of the game, and I am sure will be a major selling point.
Critics may say that marketing to a niche market is not the wisest move, but I would have to disagree in this case. X-files fans are by and large, from my experience, extremely loyal and technology oriented. So this game will not only draw players from the normal PC gaming crowd, but technologically minded people that don’t always bother playing games as well.
A really nice touch with character interaction was the addition of an emotion option at strategic points through out the game. This is something that I have never personally encountered before though I’ve heard about it games like Corel’s Mode. In the X-files, there is often three small pictures at the bottom of the screen allowing you to pick a way to respond, be it jokingly, angry or suspicious. Normal interaction is handled by these canned options.
If there is any evidence that could or should be mentioned in the conversation, it appears as a picture above the video window. Evidence to be passed off to another character appears at the bottom of the window slightly above the normal inventory section.
I was a bit worried when I saw that there was a lot of full-motion video in the game. The FMV platform is probably one of the least popular formats for games. But I’ve also played some really nice FMV, like Southpeak’s Temujin. Thankfully, the FMV is mostly just cutscenes and actually adds instead of detracts from the game. And do you really want to see Scully reproduced as a series of polygons? I think not.
This game offers a couple of variations to improve game performance on your specific system. There is a best performance option, automatically configuring the game to run on lower end systems. Letting the game set the best performance level for your system is a very smart idea and opens it up for play by more than just techno-geeks with high-end machines.
There is a fairly nice "Artificial Intuition" hint system in the game. Most of the time you don’t need it. But there are a few places where an item you have to see to continue the game is just impossible to spot. Like a bullet in a wall. I think this is a good point to mention that you can not continue in the game, until you have completed each scene. That is, you have to find everything and talk to everyone important, before you can continue. That is actually very nice, except at one point in the game, I just could not seem to trigger the end of the scene, which required the intrusion of a police officer to inform me that the body was at the morgue.
People who detest linear games will be turned off by this. Take one of my experiences: The game’s AI kept putting me in the right room, but nothing would happen. Fortunately I had just saved the game right before that scene. I just ran through everything all over again. I knew what was supposed to happen, because I was redoing the scene for a second time, after I died.
And unfortunately, this was before I discovered that the game has an auto rewind feature allowing you to redo deadly scenes, until you get them right.
Overall, I was very impressed with the game. I usually have one or two major gripes about a game, but not this time. There are a few issues that I mentioned earlier that are difficult, but nothing bad, just things that I think could have been handled better.
One final comment, save often. I know better, but was so engrossed in the game, that I forgot to save at key points and had to redo a couple sections of the game after I died. But in true X-files style, the episode you are playing can’t really end on a bad note, unless it’s a season finale I guess. People who keep playing will be rewarded, because in terms of this game, the truth is in there!