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Computing

Computer X-Files: The game is out there

By CNN Interactive Editor Steve Baxter

June 19, 1998
Web posted at: 1:27 PM EDT (1327 GMT)

(CNN) -- With a cult-like following, it's one of the most popular series on television. The movie version is sure to be one of the biggest summer box-office hits. Now there's a computer game based on "The X-Files."

The series has created millions of loyal fans who tune in for a weekly fix of conspiratorial science fiction and mystery stories. There is certainly a pent-up demand for a big screen adaptation of the series. "The X-Files Game" is a much-anticipated addition to the X-Files universe.

The first thing users will notice is that the game includes full-motion video elements. That's either good news or bad news. Video has been used in interactive entertainment for a long time, but most efforts haven't been that well received because of poor production quality.

Fortunately, the same people who do the TV show produced "The X-Files Game." Series creator Chris Carter was closely tied into the development of the game's storyline, and Frank Spotnitz edited the script. The game stays true to the look and feel of the TV series with the efforts of director of photography Jon Joffin and "The X-Files" music composer Mark Snow. The acting talents of David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and many other X-Files regulars add a lot of entertainment value.

"The X-Files Game" uses many of the actors from the TV series.   
Fox Interactive made a serious commitment to quality when it funded "The X-Files Game." Looking at the high-resolution "letter box" video, you might think someone added a DVD drive to your computer. The game's graphical design is elegant and the "VirtualCinema" software engine that puts the entire video clip story together lets players immerse themselves in this original X-Files yarn seamlessly. The user interface is intuitive, letting players effortlessly navigate between and through different clue-rich locations.

Players get to act the part of Agent Craig Willmore, a young, up-and-coming FBI field investigator based in the agency's Seattle office. Mulder and Scully have come up missing, and it's his assignment to find out where they are.

There are a variety of investigative tools at Willmore's disposal. A state-of-the-art lockpick will get him behind locked doors. He can take pictures of crime scenes with his electronic camera. A virtual set of binoculars brings clues into close-up view, and a flashlight lets him see in the dark. Of course he wouldn't be an "official" agent without his badge, handcuffs and a gun.

There are several other clever on-screen devices to help gather and study evidence. Phone calls can be made on a Nokia cell phone, and notes or e-mail can be read on a simulated Apple Newton PDA. The Newton also displays a map that lets the player navigate the different locations of the game. The Investigative Services Workstation is also useful. Located both at the office and home, it has several features to analyze the evidence at hand. "ING," the Intelligence Network Gateway, is the official Bureau network. Agents can use it to run background checks, trace phone numbers and look up license plates. Photo viewer software can be used with the digital camera. Just download pictures that are taken in the field, and they can be enlarged and studied for clues. The workstation can also be used to put out an All Points Bulletin (APB) on missing persons and suspected perpetrators.

The game's interface is well designed and easy to use.   
One interesting feature involves the concept of the "idea inventory." Icons representing facts, evidence or certain ideas that come up in game conversations appear on the screen. Simply move the icon over another character and get more information to help solve the case. There are also "emotional icons" that occur during onscreen dialogue to inject different emotions into the plot. All these things combine to affect multiple branches in the plot and make for extensive re-playability.

"The X-Files Game" is a remarkable product. It takes the concept of interactive cinema to a new level. Fans of "The X-Files" who like to play computer games will not be disappointed.

"The X-Files Game" is compatible with both Mac and PC systems. It retails for under $55.

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