X-Files Game, The Download (1998 Adventure Game)

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The The X-Files is a really remarkable piece of entertainment software. You play the role of Craig Willmore, an FBI agent assigned with the urgent task of tracking down missing agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. The entire game is played via video footage that has the same quality look and feel as The X-Files TV show. You choose lines for Agent Willmore to say and decide how he interacts with his environment.

The game is literally like watching an episode of The X-Files unfold with the exception that you're the one doing the unfolding. If you're an X-Files fan, you can't go wrong with this. If you're a pure gamer, however, this thing is as wrong as a cigarette butt in your Cheerios.

The game bogs down considerably as you hunt for clues. Remember that high-quality live-action video footage I told you about before? Well, it's not high enough quality for you to see a cigarette butt on the floor of a huge, dirty, empty warehouse, or sharp enough for you to see -- I'm not making this up -- a bullet embedded in one of a dozen wooden beams in that same warehouse. Spotting those two things makes finding a needle in a haystack seem easy. The problem is that the "help" offered by other characters is completely useless. The cigarette is a prime example -- until you find it, you're at a complete dead-end. The only help you get is your boss telling you to "I'd go back to the warehouse."

And, it's not like you're supposed to know to look for a cigarette butt -- you have no idea what you're looking for or where to find it. Your character stumbles around the Seattle area without a clue, literally hoping to bump into the appropriate piece of evidence needed to move the plot forward. If you want to finish the game, be prepared to go online and find The X-Files cheat sites.

This concept is carried to absurd extremes. You can't even log onto your computer -- the computer that is owned by your character (and is in your character's apartment, mind you) -- until you "discover" his secret password. As unbelievable as it sounds, you literally have to wander around your own apartment trying to find out what your password is. Hello? Don't the programmers think the main character might know their own password? So, if it takes you 10-20 minutes just to turn on the bloody computer, how long do you think it's going to take you to track down Mulder and Scully? When it comes to that question, I -- like my character in the game -- didn't have a clue.

Graphics: Sensational presentation and character interaction -- it's literally like watching a show on television.

Sound: Atmospheric music and authentic voices

Enjoyment: Cumbersome game play, non-intuitive concept and to get "help" you have to find it on the Internet.

Replay Value: It's a one-shot deal. Once you've figured out the master plot, there's no point in going back -- unless, of course, you like The X-Files re-runs.


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