Back in the mid-nineties and early two-thousand’s, the X Files dominated the television scene with some of the most interesting, deep, and frankly, terrifying moments to ever grace the small screen. Mulder and Scully’s constant “will-they-get-together-or-won’t-they” scenarios coupled with nine years of some of the best writing in the history of television has garnered this series not only a legion of faithful fans (X-Philes) but also a king’s ransom worth of themed products like action figures, comic books, trading cards, and even two feature films. And hopefully a third….. please? As with almost every successful franchise that comes along, a video game adaptation will surely follow and X Files was no exception. Releasing almost three years after the final episode of the show aired, The X Files: Resist or Serve launched for the PlayStation 2 to give the fans another taste of what they had been missing.
The story, whilst containing a dizzying amount of references and cameo’s from the television series, is a standalone tale which is written as three separate episodes and is supposed to take place during the seventh season of the show. The script and story were written by the show’s original writers so everything about the game’s goings-on’s feels like a genuine X Files experience. Everything a fan could want is there; from the conspiracy laden story to Mulder and Scully’s entertaining banter. Players find themselves exploring a zombie infested city in the Colorado Mountains, a government controlled testing facility in Russia, and even an alien infested spaceship, among others. The narrative of the television series was never afraid to send the agents wheeling about all over the world and this game is in precisely the same vein.
The game is actually divided into two separate campaigns. You can play as Mulder and get more of an action/shooter experience, or you can play as Scully in which gameplay will consist largely of solving puzzles and performing autopsy’s on unfortunate victims. Either way you go you’ll be playing through the same storyline but the change in gameplay is a nice option. Speaking of gameplay, this is probably where most players will be divided. Resist or Serve was built on the original Resident Evil engine and the similarities are immediately evident. Tank controls are front and center here so don’t expect to be moving while you’re shooting, turning around quickly, or walking like you’re not wading through water. It was never an issue for me as I have no problem with this old-school style of gameplay but many will be turned off by the archaic control scheme.
No matter what your affinity for this classic play style may be though, it will still cause many moments of frustration as there are many instances of too many enemies on the screen and not enough control to be able to deal with all of them properly. This is just an aspect of gameplay that gamers will always have to deal with when playing such classic titles though and I suspect most people will know what they’re getting into. The controls aren’t the only element that will remind you of Resident Evil though. The entire game is built around the same concept with a lot of puzzle solving and item searching. I spent a lot of time running around trying to find specific items to complete tasks. Again, many impatient gamers will turn their nose up at this but it is a gameplay style that I appreciate and the fact that there is an authentic X-Files sheen on the whole thing, makes it all the more sweet.
Graphics are pretty much what you’d expect for a PS2 title. There are a few fully animated cutscenes that look nice but the rest of the game looks justifiably dated. When it was released however, it was one of the nicer looking titles on the system. Most of the characters look like their real life counterparts but for some reason Fox Mulder looks like he has a problem with his eyes being crossed. This is possibly a side effect of having his brains messed with by the government in the show but I’m only speculating here.
Sound design is a real plus for this game. The entire score is composed by Mark Snow who was the composer for the television series and hearing his iconic score throughout the entirety of the gameplay really adds a sense of authenticity to the whole affair. All the characters are voiced by their respective actors too and it’s a treat to hear actors who obviously care about their performances in a video game. That’s something that many high profile actors don’t seem to have, even these days. The only problem I seemed to have in the sound department was that the entire audio track would sometimes drop completely out for some reason. This may have been a problem with my particular disc or PS2 though, so I won’t knock the game for that.
All of that being said, the most appealing aspect of this title, to me anyway, is the startling amount of fan service that’s on display here. It’s obvious that the creators of this title paid close attention to the finer details of the series and as a fan, I really appreciate all the little touches sprinkled throughout. Most casual fans will probably miss a lot of the references but almost every room, street and building is filled with call backs to the show like movie posters which reference titles of particular episodes, Morley cigarette machines scattered about, and even a reference to Mulder’s fascination with adult films. All the popular characters from the show are featured too. A.D. Skinner, CSM, Alex Krycek, Kersh, The Lone Gunmen, and even Marita Covarrubias make an appearance. That’s all just scratching the surface too as everything about this game seems to have been crafted as a love letter to the series’ fans. On top of that there are a wealth of bonus unlockables that fans will be eager to check out, including some amusing behind the scenes footage of the actors recording their lines.
Whether or not you should pick this title up (and you can find it for dirt cheap nowadays) is entirely contingent upon two things: your love for old-school survivor horror, or your appreciation for the game’s source material. A hefty affinity for either of these is plenty of reason for me to encourage even the mildly curious to give this title a shot. If you’re feeling a little put-off by the survival horror genre’s nose dive during this current console generation, the X Files: Resist or Serve may be just the fix you’re looking for as this is likely a title that you missed during its original release; and if you’re a simultaneous video game AND X Files fan, then this is a no-brainer for you buddy. Trust no one…. except me.
All ratings given to ‘Bagogames Retro Reviews’ are awarded based on the qualities of the titles during the time in which they were released and are not graded against today’s standards.
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