[22 September 2004]
Ah, science. How we love thee. Being able to know that so many things have been proven thanks to you has certainly brought us out of the Dark Ages and the Not So Long Ago. Were it not for you, we’d still be burning witches, believing those glowing eyes of animals in the forests at night were really ghosts and demons, and buying into mediums and the Crewe Circle. Ah, but then there are those that do still believe in these things, and that’s why paranormal explorers must be handled with kid gloves. You never know what kind of tomfoolery they’re going to be taking part in from day to day. Perhaps trying to record ghostly voices out of thin air, or wasting their time chasing orbs that they get on their digital camera photos. No, legitimate science has no need for parascience.
Yet this odd couple certainly made for good viewing when it came to The X-Files. “Spooky” Fox Mulder with his conspiracy theories and belief in aliens and doctor Dana Scully with her devout Catholicism and scientific approach were the ultimate oil and water mix. Made for really great TV on the usually dismal FOX network, too. All thanks to series creator Chris Carter. Sure, some of the seasons got a little flaky now and then. Yes, it sure went downhill after David Duchovny split for… whatever it is he’s doing nowadays. But damn if that series wasn’t one of the best sci-fi/supernatural shows ever created for TV. Certainly much better than any of the godawful Star Trek spin-offs or any of the original programs created on the Sci-Fi Network.
It was certainly the kind of show that openly invited believers and skeptics to tune in and enjoy. Call it the James Randi fans versus the Ghoststudy suckers, to boil it down into online equations. Certainly no paranormal topic was left untouched by Carter and his writers. Nine years gives one plenty to work with, and honestly, the more esoteric episodes were usually more enjoyable to me than the bigger tale of Mulder and the aliens. And one would think that such a terrific show would be a goldmine of ideas for a video game spin-off, no? Well, yes and no.
A few years back, a PC title called The X-Files Game was released. It was one of those goofy, sloppy, point and click adventures featuring real scenes and the show’s stars instead of computerized characters and terrain. The only problem was that the player was not either Mulder or Scully, but some wimpy agent named Craig Willmore who was so wooden that it almost made the game unbearable, were it not for the already poor story line and game mechanics.
Fast-forward to earlier this year. The X-Files makes a return to the video game world with The X-Files: Resist or Serve. Gone is the old style of CD-ROM type game with live action. In its place is what gamers should expect these days: a digitized Mulder and Scully dropped into a fictional and spooky fictional video game world. The premise for this title is that two sisters may or may not be involved in some evil form of witchcraft and a whole bunch of the undead are running around like crazy. Oh yeah, that Black Oil’s running amok again as well, so be ready to whip out the alien stiletto and stab a few bad guys in the back of the neck.
Wait. The Undead? Yes, that’s right. Resist or Serve is pretty much a Resident Evil clone. Not entirely the most exciting thing The X-Files could tackle, but undoubtedly one of the easiest to turn into a game. And really, there’s a lot to enjoy here that completely eclipses Resident Evil in a lot of ways. Or maybe that’s just the old fan in me saying that. But having been a fan of both franchises, I can safely say that this one wins out.
The attention to detail in this game is staggering. Oft-times, you’ll have to walk around with your flashlight (and for once here’s a flashlight in a game that genuinely looks cool) and investigate all sorts of nooks and crannies in your surroundings to move forward in the tale. Unlike Resident Evil, this isn’t a zombie game where all the objects you need to manipulate and items you need to gather jump out at you in a “Hey, here I am!” fashion. Plus fans will also delight at such little things as the various towns’ streets being named after X-Files episodes, and so forth.
The other nice thing here is that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are Mulder and Scully. This is infinitely better than say, oh a certain James Bond game that got to use Pierce Brosnan’s face but not his voice. True, Mulder looks a bit too beady-eyed here and Scully could have been done a little better, but it’s great to hear the real stars play their parts. Indeed, when Mulder makes an aside about a certain porn movie being rented out in one portion of the game, or disses Jewel whilst reading a poem about Wiccans by “Unknown”, the humor that was vital to the original series rings very much true in keeping in tune with the show.
Then there’s the whole bit about getting to play either Mulder or Scully and essentially getting two games in one. Sure, Resident Evil 2 did this way back when, but it’s certainly cool to see just exactly what Scully is doing when she’s not around Mulder in the game, and vice versa. But look, the bottom line here is that Resist or Serve is a solid and entertaining game from start to finish. Maybe it is one for the fans, but worse TV and movie-related games have been made by the dozens (much, much worse). Need I say Porky’s or Bachelor Party? Yes, there really were games made for those flicks. Yes, The X-Files: Resist or Serve beats the hell out of them.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/x-files-resist/