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The complete guide to The X Files Games

The X Files Game Resist or Serve

X-Files: Resist or Serve Poster for the new X Files Game!

The X-Files: Resist or Serve

Adventure game, set in the show's seventh season. Mulder and Scully travel to the small Rocky Mountain town of Red Falls to investigate a string of unusual murders linked to ghost sightings, the undead, and other paranormal phenomena. The agents then pursue an inhuman killer to a secret research facility in the Siberian wasteland and finally into the depths of a buried alien spacecraft. If they survive, they will unravel the mystery of the black oil and prevent the alien colonization of the planet...for now. Resist or Serve contains three interwoven episodes created by the executive producers of the TV show, as well as authentic voiceovers by David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and the rest of the original cast.

 

*

The X-Files Game Review


 

* Starring Jordan Lee Williams, Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny
* By Fox Interactive
* Win95/Mac CD-ROM
* Pentium 120 or Better
* 16 MB RAM, 250 MB HD
*



Review by Matthew Geary


The X-Files Game tells the story of Seattle FBI Agent Craig Willmore (Williams) and his encounter with the paranormal. Agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder have gone missing from the Seattle area, and Willmore is assigned to find them, with the help of Assistant Director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi). The investigation begins at the motel where the two missing agents were last seen, and it progresses (through seven CD-ROMs) deeper and deeper into strangeness, paranoia and danger.

Our Pick: A

The game uses a combination of movies and first-person point of view. The movies show transitions from one place to another, as well as important action or plot-advancing scenes. Most of the time, though, players see still images of the world from Agent Willmore's point of view. He can navigate and interact with the environment through a context-sensitive pointer that changes, for instance, to an eye when it contacts something he can examine more closely, or to a mouth when there's someone to speak with. He also has at his disposal an arsenal of tools and equipment, including binoculars, a lockpick device, a gun, and a PDA. The PDA is a handy item that sends and receives e-mail, has a map for getting around town, and automatically takes notes as Willmore conducts his investigation.

Overall the game follows a linear plot, with no branching. The most important decisions to be made are not where to go, but whom to trust. Whom should Willmore share his information with in the hope of gaining some insights? Whom should he lie to?

Trust the game designers

A game that uses still pictures might seem a little old-fashioned these days, but most of the titles with this kind of interface use computer-generated images. The X-Files Game uses photographs, which may sound boring but which are actually quite engaging. This is because the designers picked marvelously complex and engrossing locations, like old warehouses full of tattered plastic sheets and heaps of junk--where every single floorboard is different, giving the place an amazing reality that makes computer-generated stuff look stark and barren by comparison.

At each site he visits, Willmore is free to move around, collecting evidence in any order. Usually he can pop around town following leads, but until he learns everything there is to learn at a certain site, the plot won't advance. In addition to field work, he must conduct research on his computer, e-mail updates to his superiors (if he trusts them), and follow up with the crime lab and coroner. The result is an experience that feels, well, like work. But really interesting, important work.

The only parts of the game that break this fascinating reality are the rare action scenes: slow-motion arcade sequences in which Willmore must mow down faceless bad guys. These actions don't feel true to his character, or to The X-Files, where any killing is usually serious business.

It's also a little disappointing that Scully and Mulder play such minor roles in this adventure, not even showing up until disc five. Even so, the game definitely feels like the true X-Files--the concept comes from Chris Carter, and it fits right into the show's central story arc. It also gives players the opportunity to be FBI agents, investigate the paranormal, and trade witty quips with familiar X-Files cast members.

The game is so engrossing that I often found myself, when away from it, thinking about "the case" and jotting down ideas to pursue. Creepy and fun--I hope there will be more.

 

Resist Or Serve review

March 23, 2004 - The PlayStation debut of The X-Files in 1999 was a real crapshoot -- and that was just if you wanted to catch a glimpse of Fox Mulder or Dana Scully. It was also crap-py, as in no bueno. The two star actors from the eponymous TV series were not the central characters in that game, nor did they appear for more than say, 5-10 minutes -- and the cheesy FMV adventure was one measly step away from pure stink. Needless to say, that videogame premiere flopped.

Learning from its vast mistakes, Vivendi Universal Games and Fox Interactive got a lot of things right for this new X-Files, from the voice acting, story writing and settings, to actually obtaining the full rights to the likenesses of both Jillian Anderson and David Duchovny as lead characters in the game. The result? The X-Files: Resist or Serve is, without question, a shameless Resident Evil clone carrying all of the best and worst implications of that formula. But without a doubt, developer Black Ops has created a true-to-the-series, fan-centric game steeped in X-Files lore and, despite its failures, is an endearing survival-horror endeavor that plays like one of the better X-Files episodes.

Gameplay
VU Games' survival-horror game has arrived very late in the game, a few years in fact after the final episode of the show, which incidentally had faded quite rapidly after the so-so movie and Duchovny and Anderson had all but left the show. So, timeliness it does not have. But that doesn't mean that X-Files fanatics aren't still around, they're just sort of sitting there smoldering, waiting. My son and I watched the series religiously all the way to the final episode and though I didn't rush out to buy this game, I was eager to get to grips with it.

In getting things right this time, VU Games hired X-Files writer Tom Schnauz (who wrote on the last two years of the series) to pen the story, which fits neatly between season 6 and 8 in the long-running series. It stars the likeness of both Duchovny and Anderson with decent respectability, and both characters' likenesses are fully backed by their own voices. So, right away, a sense of authenticity is established. A very good thing, given the horde of clumsy Resident Evil-style mechanical problems that fly in your face.

Players have the instant choice of selecting the playable character Mulder or Scully, each character having his and her own specialties. Mulder is more of a man of action, fighting and shooting his way through things, while Scully approaches things as a scientist, examining patients and collecting facts. Like Resident Evil 2, The X-Files: Resist or Serve enables gamers to play the game once through as either character and then through it again as the other. So, players get two perspectives on the same story, treading familiar territory but engaging in different tasks each time. This offers gamers the ability to take on the role of the two characters, adding excellent replay value to boot.

The third-person perspective game offers a mixture of set cameras, giving the game that "cinematic" look and feel, but those same cameras move near invisible borders, following Mulder and Scully and freeing players from the infuriating rigidity of Capcom's survival-horror classic. They can be annoying, but generally the angles do a decent job of providing the right angles for adventuring, sometimes less than decent jobs, however, for combat.

.The game takes place in a slew of locations from the TV series, and it stars all of the major characters too. Krycheck, the Cigarette-Smoking Man, the Lone Gunmen, Skinner, and a half dozen other characters make enjoyable cameos. While I won't reveal the original story, which is the game's best attribute (so as not to give away spoilers), it's worth noting that Black Ops did its X-Files research. The game enables players to investigate a possible X-File, which naturally turns into a much bigger story, involving the government, Black Oil, aliens, Mulder's abducted sister Samantha, mysterious artifacts, as well as hitting on a gaggle of other themes and topics with which fans of the show should be familiar.

While the major details are well executed, the level of little details is also smartly handled. Street names are named after episodes, the video store has a porn collection (wherein both Mulder and Scully offer different asides regarding Mulder's well-known collection), the names of the movie posters relate to episodes, and the Wetwire store also bears relevance. Keys have special numbers on them, and pretty much everywhere you look, a reference to some X-Files episode is made.

Although the game might be steeped in X-Files goodness, the gameplay itself leaves gamers wanting. This single-player survival-horror title does nothing to evolve what some would say is the very broken and irrelevant Resident Evil model. The set cameras often force players to fight enemies off-screen, shooting and aiming at enemies is a chore (since it's often difficult to find them from the set camera angles), and the game is filled with Black Oil-infected "zombies," who lurch slowly about like Goth ADHD kids after their Ritilin has worn off.

I've watched hundreds of The X-Files episodes, and I must say that less than 1% of the X-Files episodes featured zombies. Zombies are not only a cliché in the videogame industry, like the abundance of mine cart levels and flame throwers in every other game, but for the The X-Files, which was filled with great creatures, insects, aliens, demons and the like, there must have been something more original than Black-Oil infested "zombies." And incidentally, Black Oil infested humans were not slow or zombie like in the least, they were actually quite fast and nimble. Shame on you, VU Games.

Resist or Serve is not scary at all. In fact, just he opposite, it's often hilarious. If you liked the nasty, incredulous birds and bats in Resident Evil, then you'll love the Black Oil infected cats and dogs here. Strangely, the game starts off pretty weak, and one of the first offerings of the infected little creatures is an example of absurdity. One of them jumps out from an ice chest at Mulder at a gas station. It's bloody and skanky looking, looking not very cat like at all, and it's attack is that it bites his chins. Frickin' hilarious stuff, these cats. And just like in the Resident Evil games, instead of getting scarier, the zombies evolve into the stuff of humor. In several instances, when a zombie "jumped" out at me, I laughed out loud. Old zombie women jump from secondary rooms, and even older and skankier zombie women take shotguns out to blast your smug face into bits. You just have to see it when a decrepit old zombie mamma aims her shotgun at you. It's better than most of the gigs on Saturday Night Live.

The even mix of action and puzzles is respectable. Players wander about searching for clues, which unfold the story, enabling both Mulder and Scully to progress through the game. There is a solid support of weaponry, ranging from an AK 47, rifle and shotgun to the XXX. The Molotov cocktails are horrendous, and usually end up hurting and you and Scully more than anyone else. They're a laughably bad addition, and aren't worth using at all.

The bosses aren't necessarily that hard, some are stupidly frustrating (sometimes randomly easy) and there are few variations. In most cases, you'll just be playing harder versions of previously encountered bosses. Later on (and once early on), however, you'll have to team up with Scully (or Mulder) to take on a horde of baddies. For example, as Mulder you must fend off half dozen or more zombies from attacking Scully as she quickly analyses a corpse to obtain an antidote for his condition. The necessity to protect Scully while not dying yourself creates a good gameplay tension.

The puzzles are simple. They mostly involve collecting the right item in the right order, meaning you'll be scouring every nook and cranny for shiny objects just like in Resident Evil. Black Ops implemented an excellent mechanism for doing just that, giving Mulder and Scully the ability to use flashlights in conjunction with their handguns. Character torsos swivel at the hip, so just like in Alone in the Dark 4 and Pitfall: The Lost Expedition, players can seek out items independently of the direction of their character. Also, to give players extra help in finding items, when the flashlight rolls over a keycard or 9mm clip it flashes, and when a character is near an item a spinning X-File icon appears on the bottom right-hand side of the screen.

Graphics
Resist or Serve is by no means a great looking game. The rather low-resolution textures, simplistic designs and simple backgrounds are a little too campy, even for a survival horror game. The character models are truly bizarre in their nature. The texture work and face modeling on both Mulder and Scully is instantly recognizable; the hair, facial shapes and clothes are all near picture perfect.

But the character motion is marionette-like, the lip-synching is average, and the characters' eyes are whacked. The first time you see Mulder his eyes look like they're rolling up inside his head. When he looks at Scully as they're driving in their car together, he's looking up at the moon. More often than not, Mulder is cross-eyed. It's a little sad, actually, how goofy and doll-like these characters look and move. At least their voices are good.

Sound
Luckily, the sound in this mildly botched survival-horror game is good. Mark Snow created the music for the show and the original use of his soundtrack is perfected executed here. Though the gameplay itself isn't scary, the music is authentically creepy, giving the entire gameplay experience a feeling exactly the same as if you were watching the show, i.e. a kick in the pants. It's interesting when an average game is lifted up by its production values, and in this case, the music, and the voice acting, upgrades the overall experience to a higher level.

The real voice support of Jillian Anderson and David Duchovny make the game's vocal experience authentic, but it's the supporting cast that really adds color. The appearances of the Lone Gunmen as well as Skinner, Krychek, the Cigaretter Smoking Man and a host of others in digital form is an excellent touch for fans of the series, but its their voices and the authentic dialog that makes the interactions just one notch better.

Closing Comments
Like so many of Vivendi Universal's games, The X-Files: Resist or Serve is game based on a license, the X-Files license, and it mainly caters to the huge horde of fans who are just out there hoping something like the X-Files, or even the X-Files itself, will return. As such, it's an authentic game, complete with a good script, good voice acting, pretty good re-creations of the characters in video form, and an enormous amount of references to the details of the series. If you're a fan of The X-Files, you'll really enjoy it.

The game itself is hackneyed, copied without regret, shame, or much of anything else straight from Resident Evil 2. Thus, it's inherently flawed with camera angle problems, control problems, and a sense of shock fight that wears think quickly. And for God's sake, it's filled with zombies. ZOMBIES! What's nice about the RE2 model is that players can take on the role of either Scully or Mulder, and once they play through the game with one character, they can replay it as the other from a different perspective.


As a game, it's not scary at all, though there are some tense and surprising moments. Mostly, it's just plain funny. If you're looking for something new or interesting in the survival-horror genre, don't look here.

The X-Files Game
Developer/Publisher:  Fox Interactive
Year Released:  1998

Review by Matthew Geary (September, 1998)

xfile.jpgI am not a fan of The X-Files television series and have only watched maybe two or three episodes all the way through. The one thing that I do vividly recall from the show is how relentlessly dark most of the scenes are. Sure it may add to a spooky atmosphere, but for me it is overdone and so loses much of its impact. In this respect the game captures some of that atmosphere as you will find yourself exploring an assortment of dark warehouses, a dark secret base and the dingy bowels of a ship, desperately hoping to find a light switch that you can operate. Sadly, there aren't any, but you do have a flashlight that seems to work reasonably well in only one location and you also have some night-vision goggles that generally don't work very well in the dark.

Still, darkness is pretty much what I expected from my limited experience with the television series so the game faithfully delivers on this aspect. No doubt fans of the series will be thoroughly at home in this shadowy environment and, to be fair, it is not all doom and gloom.

The mystery begins
The game opens with agents Mulder and Scully investigating a seemingly deserted warehouse. A group of men walk in and start shooting at them. Scully is hit and a blinding flash of white light kills the assailants. This is where you come in. Mulder and Scully have disappeared and, as FBI agent Craig Willmore, you are assigned the task of finding out what has happened to them.

The X-Files is a first-person perspective interactive movie with third-person sequences that allow you to watch your character carrying out the actions you have selected. Without giving too much away, your investigations are mundane enough in the beginning, but will eventually lead you down the familiar X-Files path to alien visitations and a government cover-up. Oh, and I should point out for fans of the series that you will meet up with Mulder and Scully near the end of the game, though whether or not this will satisfy you is, perhaps, debatable. In the meantime you will have to make do with Craig Willmore played by Jordan Lee Williams as you carry out your investigations by talking to people and searching for clues. There are also one or two other familiar faces from the series, most notably the mysterious X and Assistant Director Skinner who assigns you to the case and helps with the early field work.

On death and dying
Sadly, there is less to this game than meets the eye and though I quite enjoyed the investigation part it isn't too difficult and nor is it a very long game. The seven CDs are, as you would expect with an interactive movie, largely taken up with video footage. In an attempt to extend the gameplay the designers have chosen the easy option of timed action sequences and instant death over developing the puzzles and exploration side. Even on easy mode the split-second response time is annoying and definitely not what I appreciate in an adventure game. Still, some may argue that this feature adds to the realism, but from my, admittedly, limited exposure to the series I don't remember Mulder and Scully relying on reflexes to get through an episode. Ok, no doubt someone will quickly correct me on this. As for dying in an adventure game, well I normally don't mind meeting the odd sticky end as, unlike in real life, you can learn by your mistakes, but here it was taken to absurd levels especially on the last CD.

Much of the early exploration involves searching for evidence that you can have analysed in the crime lab, or for information that you can research in the data bases of your computer. To that extent the gameplay is a cross between Police Quest and Spycraft and is quite entertaining for a while even taking into account those long searches for a black cat in a cellar at midnight. You are further aided by the now ubiquitous Personal Digital Assistant which enables you to travel between locations, review your field notes and send and receive e-mail. You also have a cellular phone, evidence kit and the usual paraphernalia indispensable to your investigation although most of these trappings are sadly under-used.

Conversations are fairly straightforward although the dialogue isn't always realistic with the necessity for your character to ask questions about things he would obviously be aware of. A mouth icon lets you know when you can talk to someone then you just choose what you want agent Willmore to say from the available selection. Occasionally, other icons will appear at the top of the screen representing what you have learned and you can ask about these by clicking on them.

Plentiful options
There are lots of options to customise the interface and you can enable on-screen text for all conversations, show or hide the inventory, change audio and gameplay settings (here is were you can set the action sequence difficulty) and enable the 'artificial intuition' feature. This is an on-screen help indicator that glows at the top of the screen. When it is dim no help is forthcoming, but when it glows it lets you know there is more to do at that location and, if you are really stuck, you can click on it and it will perform the next action for you. Pity it doesn't enable you to skip the action sequences. My advice is to leave it off as the puzzle aspect is easy enough without it. You can always activate it if need be.

So the X-Files game has shooting sequences, lots of death scenes -- mainly your own, dark locations, an alien who is able to assume human form and evidence of corruption in high places, but is it scary? Well, no. The scariest moment for me was unintentional. I had my gun drawn and was exploring a warehouse when instead of clicking to go forward I accidentally fired the gun. It frightened the life out of me I can tell you, so on that score I have to say the sound effects were pretty good. As an interactive movie it certainly has its moments, and the available help makes it attractive to newer game players, but for me it doesn't really measure up to similar, more involving games such as Black Dahlia, Gabriel Knight II or the Tex Murphy series.

Quandary rating:  

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