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REVIEW STATS

Author: Adam (Dead Regime) Ingle | January 15th, 2000 | Review Feedback

Reviewer's System: Sony Playstation

 

 

GW Rating
Graphics: 10.0 Excellent use of FMV, some dark locations
Sound: 9.5 Good sound quality, bad songs in game
Gameplay: 9.5 Tough Adventure, some disappointments
Technical: 8.5 Game ran fine, no obvious glitches
Concept: 8.0 It's X-files! And it's hard to find good adventures on the PSX
Overall: 9.1 Die hard fans might be let down, but the game is still good all pet peeves aside.

Publisher : Fox Interactive | Developer : Hyperbole

Genre : Adventure | Origin : U.S | Players : 1

For Full awards descriptionUFO's have long been a fascination for countless people. This is evident by the mass popularity of The X-files TV series and movie. It was only a matter of time before it spread even further, and now it has hit the Playstation. The X-files is a little bit of mystery, a little bit of adventure, and a little bit of "X".

For the most part, The X-files is a standard adventure game. You are Agent Willmore, a member of the Seattle FBI field office. You have been given the task of finding the missing agents Scully and Mulder who vanished while investigating a possible smuggling operation. To do so you must use your investigative instincts and search crime scenes, piece together clues, and work together with other agents and officers. What starts out as a missing persons case quickly turns into something much more dangerous, and then something even worse. You have to be quick and smart to survive.

X-files uses what seems to me the only logical interface considering the control limitations of an adventure game on the Playstation. It features a letter-boxed screen with real-life images of locations with an inventory bar accessible by hitting the "O" button on your controller. Mingled in with the real-life images are full motion videos with actors playing out their roles and yours as well. When interacting with characters you have the option to use items on them, or talk to them either by selecting from a small group of hot topics represented by small icons in the top right, or from a list of standard questions and answers. On certain occasions you are also given the opportunity to answer questions with a certain tone, such as peaceful, angry, or indifferent, or given the choice to lie or tell the truth. In most cases this has little to no affect on your situation, but it does add some spice to the game. The game uses a single cursor, which changes depending on the possible actions, and the four buttons of your controller to access everything in the game. If you want to talk to someone, you simple move the cursor over the person, which then changes to a mouth, and talk to them. The same goes for looking at things, and doing things.

Just as with the series, the game takes you to various locales ranging from Seattle, Washington to a secret military base in Alaska. Within each of these locations are different places you can go to such as your apartment or the crime lab. To get around all the different places, the game uses a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) to show a map of the area, showing hotspots of the locations you can go to. Also from your PDA you can check your e-mail, which can include valuable clues, and even check over your notes to see if you've missed anything.

The interface is, for the most part, easy to use. On occasion buttons can become easily confused causing you to perform actions you didn't intend, thus getting you killed. Also on the down side is that in several locations, the images used to represent the location can be dark, and things can be easily overlooked. A nice feature of the interface is the "Artificial Intuition" option. When turned on, which must be done from the setup menu, you can access hints on what to do next, and if you still don't get it, you can have the game automatically perform the action. This can be very helpful in areas of the game where you know what you're supposed to do, but don't have a clue on how to do it. The only disadvantage is that once activated it can become very tempting to resort to using it when you encounter some difficulty, which can be quite often.

While the X-files might not have the greatest graphics, it does make great use of its full motion video. I haven't seen such good a use of videos since The Beast Within, which is the only other game in my experience in which FMV was used appropriately. Despite the great use of the video, the acting and story in the video weren't always the best. Your character’s actor often seems out of touch with his character, while a partner from the Seattle Police Department never seems to miss a beat, and is probably the best actor in the game short of Gillian Anderson (sorry, David Duchovny wasn't too good in this one). Another part of the video that began to be quite annoying was the use of loops. With the limitations of space on a CD it's understandable that they can't have a continuous stream of traffic being shown on a bridge. However it is quite obvious and detracts from the overall quality when you see a white car passing in the background and then suddenly rewinding it, showing the car going in reverse.

As with anything X-files, sound is often an extremely important tool for setting the atmosphere. Eerie piano solos and sounds that Mark Snow produces for the television series and the movie add a mysterious or panicky element to the show. This same music technique is attempted in the game, yet sorely suffers due to very bad looping. Some ambient music is no more than a single note played continuously, while another may be 3 looped drumbeats. Only during the FMV sequences is the music anywhere close to where it should be if they intended to keep the same elements as the series. While there are a lot of FMV sequences in which the music continues as it should, you still spend much more time in-game than watching these movies.

The gameplay itself suffers from the same problems as the rest of the game. It's just not up to par for what is expected of The X-files. Considering that Agents Mulder and Scully play only a very short, though important, role in the game, it could almost be viewed as a spin-off of the X-files. If it were not for the discoveries and disappearances of Mulder and Scully, Agent Willmore would have no reason to involve himself in what turns out to be a standard X-file. Despite this, the game focuses mostly on Agent Willmore and the discoveries he stumbles upon in the wake of Mulder and Scully. Despite the fact that from the get go you know there's something paranormal going on, a majority of the game is spent trying to convince the player that it's not an X-file, but is simply a mishap in which Mulder and Scully got caught in the middle of everyday criminal activity. The game does succeed in keeping away from totally changing the dynamics of the series. As usual there is no concrete evidence of any paranormal activity, and none of the agents uncover any new government conspiracies. Something the game does change is the personalities of the characters, though not to any sort of extreme point. Mulder is much more reserved, Scully all but admits everything was unexplainable, and Agent Willmore is trusted much too quickly by people with the conspiracies that the X-files have uncovered. The FBI mystery man, who is appropriately called "X", makes a brief appearance and entrusts Willmore with very sensitive information that really isn't necessary to complete his mission. X would not have divulged as much information, especially considering that Agent Willmore had no previous knowledge of any aliens, nor had he shown that he was trustworthy. While this may all sound incredibly negative or possibly pointless, it is only the observations of someone who is an avid fan of The X-files. Therefore I can't help but feel that Chris Carter and others involved in the X-files had only a small amount of control over this project. With all this aside, The X-files is still an above average adventure game in a genre filled with many pathetic attempts.

Something that X-file fans can rejoice in is the fact that many major characters from the series appear in the game: Scully, Mulder, A.D. Skinner, The Lone Gunmen and X all have roles in the game. Each of these characters helps you to some degree in discovering the whereabouts of the missing agents. Sadly the Smoking Man does not make an appearance, which would have made for a much better conspiracy. Also in the game are the "oil eyed" aliens who take control of hosts usually causing them to do really bad things. These are the same aliens that for a short time controlled the Russian defector Krycheck in the TV series.

While most of this puts The X-files in a bad light, I must emphasize that this is only out of a familiarity with the series itself. Most of the problems pointed out would have little or no affect on an unacquainted player, though there isn't much of a chance that someone who doesn't know what the X-files is, or even worse doesn't like the X-files, would be playing this. The developers, industry veterans Hyperbole Studios, have been creating interactive movies for years and have done many excellent, though severely under-rated games, such as Quantum Gate. Despite their minor betrayals to the mechanics of the series this is an excellent work, and possibly one of their best.

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