We like TheX-Files. We like the all-spanning voluptuousness of Gillian Anderson. We like how she's fatter and blotchier in the early series. We like the predictability that when Mulder and Scully split up like the Scooby Doo gang, Mulder gets to see something cool and convincing while La Anderson gets to shine her torch around and show off her puckered questioning lips in the half-light at the wrong end of the warehouse.
We like its hokey and - let's face it - its monumentally crap title sequence (Mulder and Scully burst into a room at one frame per second, some geezer gets to fall crappily into a maelstrom, and somebody dicks around with an electro-static ball). We like the Cwacky episodes' when M&S find some Cwhacked out' characters and make jokes and that. We even like the way that every location -be it Russia, Texas or Belize -looks like a particularly woody bit of Vancouver.
We like lots of things about The X-Files. But, unfortunately, we don't like this - The X-Files game.
To describe it, you could use the phrase 'arcade adventure', but it's actually more of an interactive movie with all the signs and portents that description brings.
You play Agent Craig Wilmour, a YTS trainee working at the Seattle field office of the FBI. You're in the X-Files universe (somewhere around 1996), so everywhere is smoky, like too many irons have been left on. Everyone wears a very grim expression and speaks in a violent whisper, preferably without opening their mouths very much.
Mulder and Scully visited this rainy blister of a city on the northwestern seaboard to investigate something (not sure what). They disappeared (not sure where) and haven't been heard of since (not sure why). All you have is a piece of paper with their last known address, accoutrements like guns, mobile phones and torches, and the resources of the FBI behind you. Your mission is to find M&S and maybe get dragged into a vortex of intrigue en route.
The whole game has been shot and directed by the film crew and talent behind the TV series, so every locale has that glorious X-Files sheen to it. Every character's face looks like a leather sandal. The locations and the frequent FMV sequences are perfectly shot. Authenticity is paramount. The game underneath, however, is the most rudimentary, basic, mind-numbingly ponderous adventure we've seen in a long time. It's like the last 20 years never happened and we're back to Zork-level complexity. CGO NORTH' you might as well type as you click the mouse. CEXAMINE PICTURE' you could've tapped as you clicked on the irrelevant picture. Some conversations allow you to chose a mood, be it stroppy, funny or elusive. Some conversations simply appear as a list of questions to which the response is always the same, no matter how many times the question is asked. We went back to the same motel over and over again and asked the same clerk the same question and she gave the same reply. Not a blink.
Of course, Gillian and David and Mitch (Pileggi, scary slaphead FBI boss man Skinner) are in it, as well as Cancer Man, X (black guy informant from series four) and a bunch of other actors from the roster. But Skinner appears early in the game then quickly disappears, and M&S only appear towards the end. By then you're on CD eight and you'd rather be involved in their untimely and violent deaths than saving them.
But, of course, you can't kill them. The whole game gives you the illusion of freedom: you can open most drawers, examine most pictures, even talk to seemingly irrelevant characters. But the storyline is completely linear, pushed on in a predictable, slow-loading, episodic manner (if you fancy it, you can do a full install, but only if you've got 3.5Gb of spare hard disk).
Someone, who's maybe seen the end of one of the bad X-Files episodes, has been handed a pamphlet called What X-Files Fans Want And Like In A Computer Game: A Statistical Survey, where focus groups and marketing people have Cgot down' with some low-foreheaded, six-fingered X-Files fans from some greasy outback town. They've said: We want to guide a totally unknown character in a straight line through The X-Files universe and be teased with the expectation of interacting with major cast members, only to find that the well-shot visuals are just a cover for a shabby, primary school attempt at an adventure game.
And that's what they got.
Download The X-Files
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
For many X-Files this game is a dream come true. Devotees can now interact with screen presences that are usually isolated in their ethereal box: Mulder and Scully, Skinner, the Cigarette-Smoking Man, and other series regulars make their appearance in Fox Interactive's very interactive seven-disc extravaganza. You play as Craig Wili-more, a junior FBI field agent, whose first job is to track down the charismatic couple who disappear in the game's opening cut-scene.
Your quest for the truth will take you through numerous locales, all permeated with the show's unique atmosphere: That weird indoor-fog clouds the FBI's Seattle office; streams of smoky light filter through an (almost) empty warehouse; a single bulb illuminates your spartan apartment. If you feel you're in a genuine TV episode, it's no accident: X-Files creator Chris Carter is responsible for the game's story concept, which takes place between the series' third and fourth seasons.
Despite its crystal clear cinematography and cinematic sound, you'll need the patience of a Mulder to get trough The X-Files: The load times are very slow. Luckily, the plot actually makessense fa rarity in video games), and clues lead to other clues which lead to discoveries with Holmesian logic (you can use the game's Artificial intuition if really stuck). Tine simple interface also makes playing enjoyable, help compensate for the game's mechanical shortcomings.
X-Files, give thanks! And if you're unfamiliar with the show, but enjoy a good yarn, consider: jing nto a surreal world vhere the quest for the truth is at least an option.
- Your boss, Amistead Shanks (on the right), will be glad to assist you with dues.
- Because he's a Civil War buff, Agent Willmore's computer password is Shiloh.