The X-Files (1998)

This is, by far, one of the best games I’ve ever played. I personally don’t like games that involve too much action (shooting especially). I like games that involve crime solving, exploring, etc. I also like Sports games. The only Action games (shooting with strategy) that has interested me thus far is Rainbow Six and Max Payne.

This game is a mystery-solving game, of course a Science Fiction mystery (which is what X-files is all about). In this game, the player assumes the role of Special Agent Craig Joshua Willmore of the FBI Seattle Field Office. Special Agent Craig Willmore is introduced by his own direct superior to Assistant Director Walter Skinner (part of the mainstream show) on April 2, 1996. Skinner and Armistead Shanks (Willmore’s superior) assign him on a case that involves the disappearance of two prized agents of Skinner – Agents Fox William Mulder and Dana Katherine Scully. Both the missing agents were last seen in DC Headquarters of the FBI by Skinner himself. So what is the mystery to solve here? – Where are the agents? What happened to them? Are they alive? If so, are they in danger? What case were/are they working on?

This game uses “Virtual Cinema” Technology. Games developed using this technology essentially are half-game half-movie. I personally liked this kind of interface. I think it adds a kind of a human touch to the game. But, honestly, this kind of technology would prove too expensive to create for anyone. For one thing, programmers are required to make the game. Secondly, you need to pay each of the actors/actresses (I know the latter word has been removed from the dictionary, although I don’t personally accept that). For 1998, the game surely was one of the best-made games ever.

The player controls the main character (in this case, Agent Willmore). During many parts of the game, you are given several choices, in regard to emotions, responses, questions, etc. What question Willmore asks, how he asks it (politely or rashly), and how he responds to the other characters (politely or rashly) will have a huge influence on the game. If the player chooses rash responses and questions continuously, the game will end soon (Willmore will lose his job, or worse, get sent to prison). The player should also ensure that Willmore chooses the right course of action at the right time. Failing to do so will cost Willmore his job or lead to his death.

The emotions chosen by the player also makes Willmore respond in certain ways. Although this is not crucial to the game, this does add/subtract an emotional touch to the game. The type of character you assign to Willmore, how you make him converse with the other characters in the game will have an influence on those other characters themselves. An indifferent easy-to-go Agent Willmore who acts in a friendly manner with the other characters and treats them with respect will earn their respect and friendliness. An indifferent Agent Willmore who displays these qualities will also receive kind and compassionate treatment from his ex-wife Barbara Willmore. This can be inferred from the messages left by his ex-Wife in his answering machine and the letter sent by her. However, regardless of how nice and/or friendly Willmore is, he will receive a harsh or “don’t care” treatment from his ex-wife if he portrays himself to be a funny or paranoid character. More information regarding emotions will follow.

The role of Agent Craig Joshua Willmore is played by the rather unsuccessful actor, Jordan Lee Williams. J.L. Williams has also appeared in one of the mainstream X-Files episodes (Syzgy) in a far less active role – a basketball player who hardly stays on-screen for half a minute. It could be argued that the character Agent Willmore deserved more spots in the show. But, the game itself has never been connected to the mainstream show. In other words, there is no indication of the game’s events in the mainstream show. This was intended to be a standalone story.

Other important characters, who work with Agent Willmore, in the game include Detective Mary Astadourian (played by Paige Witte), Mark Cook (James Lynch), John Amis (Reginald A. Jackson), Joan Triutt (Lauren Tewes), etc. Aside from James Lynch, it is difficult to argue that anyone else really did a good “acting” job in the game. This is my view at least, looking back at the game nearly 10-12 years after I first played it.

None of them ever surfaced in the mainstream episodes. J.L. Williams comes in a scene of “The Practice” for about 15-20 seconds or less. His character was unnamed. He also appeared in some commercials. The last anyone heard anything about Williams was that he sadly died rather young in 2018 at 52 years of age, and had no children. I guess that about sums up his acting career and life in general. The others are also virtually unheard of. You can hardly find a real life photograph of these actors/actresses on the internet. This is in the 21st Century, when almost everything is on the net. I guess that is how unflattering their acting careers were. Not everybody makes it in show business, right?

A list of the important characters in the game follows right after the dropdown box which has the walkthrough and analysis, and missing links interpretation (information from the walkthrough will not be mentioned in this page).

Important Characters

FBI (Seattle) Special Agent Craig Joshua Willmore (Primary Character)
  • Age: 32
  • Divorced since November 1995
  • Ex-Wife – Barbara Marie-Stanfield Willmore
  • One Daughter – Elizabeth Anne Willmore; 5 years old
  • Parents – Father: Christopher Charles Willmore (Retired Navy Commander); Mother: Natalie Willmore (Homemaker)
  • Circle of friends besides Mark Cook and John Amis include Mike Robinson, Perry Allen, Pam Hilton, Jim Seitz, Carolyn, etc.
  • Agent Willmore is a graduate of Northwestern University (Bachelor of Arts) and New York University (Master of Arts). He majored in “History” and did a minor in “Criminology.” Willmore joined FBI in 1991.
  • Agent Willmore is a Civil War buff. His hobbies include collecting Civil War artifacts and battlefield maps, and swimming.
  • Agent Willmore is shown as a realistic individual (if you play the game properly, that is; if you don’t, you won’t get to the end anyway). All through the game, he is shown as a person who neither believes nor has any interest in alien beings, UFO, or any unusual phenomena (personification of Agent Mulder). However, he is not a person who strictly adheres to science or by-the-book rules (personification of Agent Scully). In other words, while he does not share the same level of fascination about alien beings, UFO and unusual phenomena with Agent Mulder, he believes what he sees and hears.

FBI (Seattle) Special Agent Mark Cook (Willmore’s FBI partner)
  • Age: 35
  • Single
  • Graduate of University of Arizona (Bachelor of Arts). Agent Cook majored in “Criminology” and did a minor in “Mechanical Engineering.” Also joined FBI in 1991. I am assuming he has been Willmore’s partner through all the four years.
  • Agent Cook’s hobbies include repairing antique radios and brewing beer at home.
  • Agent Cook is shown as a pretty close friend of Agent Willmore, not just a partner. Willmore is shown to have deep respect for Cook. Willmore is also shown to trust Cook completely, though this could change through the course of the game (depending on what the player does). His faith in Cook and his respect for Cook can be inferred from his response to John Amis at the beginning of the game – “Cook? He never cheated a day in his life!”

Seattle Police Department Detective Mary Astadourian (Willmore’s “Investigation” partner)
  • Met by Willmore on his second day on the case. Generally shown to be an easy-going character as long as Agent Willmore is easy-going. Willmore describes her as a “knockout” in his journal. Going by Willmore’s journal, Willmore prefers her company to Cook’s – “Like it or not, we’re probably on the investigation together…at least for a few days. I am not disappointed. It sure beats cruising with Cook.”
  • The emotions, responses, chosen by the player has a huge effect on the relationship between Astadourian and Willmore. If the right emotions and responses are chosen, a subtle romantic relationship develops between Astadourian and Willmore. Again, this relationship need not necessarily be expressed openly. That too depends on what the player does.
  • Astadourian feels the same way about alien beings, UFO, unusual phenomena as Willmore does. She has no taste for them. Depending on the actions of the player, Astadourian could act in two different ways. She will either be entirely skeptical of Mulder’s theories or she may find Mulder to be a “creative thinker.” What action triggers these two different behaviors exhibited by Astadourian is unclear. If she exhibits the latter behavior, she too will accept the possibility of unusual occurrences.

John Amis – FBI Crime Lab (King County) Technician (Willmore’s FBI Crime Lab contact)
  • John Amis is with Agent Willmore from the beginning of the case. Shown as a bored man who counts on the FBI for an interesting life. John Amis is shown to be an calm character who respects Willmore although he does not like Cook too much. This is pretty clear from the way he refers to Cook – “That ‘crooked partner’ of yours cheated!”
  • The player’s choice of emotions and responses also affects Willmore’s relationship with Amis. The more formal Willmore is, the more formal Amis is with Willmore. If Willmore engages in friendly conversations with Amis such as “How are you, How’s your wife, etc” Amis will respond in an informal way to Willmore. This can be inferred from the way Amis reacts to Willmore’s questions through the course of the game and from the nature of Amis’s e-mails to Willmore – Notice how he refers to Willmore in the e-mails (First or Last Name).
  • John Amis is a little closer to Agent Mulder’s line of fascination. While he is fascinated with such things as UFO, alien beings and unusual things, he does not believe in the existence of such things. To Amis, all this is nothing more than “Science Fiction.”

Joan Truitt – King County Coroner
  • Joan Truitt is introduced to Agent Willmore on the second day of his investigation by Detective Astadourian. Truitt is a person who is not especially fond of her job as a Coroner. The unusual things that she would come across during the course of the investigation would further discomfort her. Her utter disbelief in the things that would soon happen around her are shared by Willmore and Astadourian, who have their own measure of discomfort for such unusual phenomena.
  • Just like Agent Willmore and Detective Astadourian, she too is taken aback by the unusual things that happen around her. But she appears willing to accept any “fantastic” theories for the things that happen during the investigation. In fact, she herself suggests something close to a “Fantastic” theory, at one point in the investigation.
FBI Seattle Special Agent In Charge (SAIC) Armistead Shanks (Willmore’s direct superior)
  • Going by Agent Willmore’s journals, Willmore has great respect and admiration for Shanks. Also, according to Willmore’s journal, Shanks is shown to respect Agent Willmore a lot for his hard work and dedication.
  • Shanks assists Willmore in his investigation whenever necessary, although there is never a necessity. The Shanks character strictly functions the same way as the Artificial Intelligence in the game.
  • SAIC Shanks does not believe in extra-terrestrials, UFO, unusual phenomena, etc. But, he appears more than willing to accept “Fantastic” theories from Agent Willmore if he is to suggest such theories (which, he never does).

  • All other characters in the game play a very little part in the game. Agent Scully does one important job at the end; but nothing beyond that. Walter Skinner and Agent Mulder play an even smaller part (Agent Mulder, the smallest part). Critics have often expressed frustration at the fact that Agents Mulder & Scully played a very little part in the game. As much as I want Duchovny’s and Anderson’s presence in the mainstream X-Files, I personally liked their absence in the game. Looking at them from a third person’s point of view was nice. Furthermore, I liked the addition of the new characters.
  • A few people have also complained about the lighting in the game – too dark. This is not true. It depends on what kind of a system you have. If you have the latest version of a computer system as per 1998 that meets all the requirements of the The X-Files Game, you won’t experience any problem in the game. If at all it is dark, it’s only because of where Willmore is (a dimly lit area).
  • I felt that the game would have been more realistic, if the player was allowed to make Willmore to travel to Cook’s apartment, call Astadourian, visit Astadourian at SPD or at her own apartment. Instead, the game has been made such that everybody visits him and he visits no one. However, we must take into account the fact that the game already took 7 cds. Allowing all this would have meant perhaps 3 or 4 more Cds. The game was made at a time when DVD technology was not prevalent. So considering the limitations of technology available at the time, I say the game would receive 5 stars (the highest rating).