If you have a tough enough time every Sunday night unraveling the complex threads of a vast government - alien conspiracy involving shadowy figures with mysterious powers bent on subjugating the world, just wait until you try the "X - Files" interactive computer adventure game.
All seven CD - ROMs of it.
The "X - Files" game is out there, or at least it will be in a few days, arriving in stores a week or so ahead of the theatrical release of "The X - Files" movie and about three weeks after the end of the smash television show's fifth season.
Think of the game as a way to get your "X" fix all summer.
With an 800 - page script that has numerous possible endings, depending on your choices and attitudes, and that takes 30 to 40 hours to play, there's enough to keep a game - Xer, or X - gamer, occupied until the new season starts in the fall.
"To have a game with seven CDs is just insane," said Bill Paris, a video game writer and columnist for Next Generation and PlayStation magazines. "That's a new one on us."
The sheer size of the game, which is being billed as another episode of the show, is staggering compared to other games on the market, which seldom need more than two or three CD - ROMs to contain all their elements, said Paris.
But the space has been well - used. After three years of work, the producers have come up with a computer game every bit as distinctive and engaging as the show upon which it is based. May the movie be as good.
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprise their roles as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, the FBI agents who investigate paranormal X - file cases against a paranoiac backdrop of dark government conspiracy with aliens.
The show's creators, Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz, photography director Jon Joffin and music director Mark Snow also were involved.
The game includes such well - known supporting characters as Assistant Director Skinner and the loopy Lone Gunmen, three technophiliac oddballs who help Mulder from time to time.
And because the game is set somewhere between the show's third and fourth seasons, it even includes some long - dead characters, including "X," the undercover operative who before his own untimely assassination sometimes fed information to Mulder, said Luke Letizia, associate producer.
"The fact that they really do have the real people in there is a great boost," said Paris. "The problem someone like LucasArts has with their [Star Wars] licenses is that they just put generic actors in those roles."
What's different from the TV show or movie, of course, is that in the game, the player controls the story's outcome through decisions and interactions with other characters.
The use of software called VirtualCinema 3.0 makes a big difference in the way the game plays, creating an experience far BTC better than older games that use full - motion video to tell their stories.
The game's producers shot more than 40 hours of video for the game, which was edited down to four hours of footage, still a huge amount by computer - game standards.
The game starts as a player's character, young FBI Agent Craig Willmore, is summoned to the bureau director's office and asked to locate the missing Scully and Mulder.
Letizia said the game should take 30 to 40 hours to complete. And because the story branches in significantly different ways, it is possible to play the game repeatedly and have a different experience each time.
Because of the game's heavy use of video and demanding technology, it requires at least a 603e PowerPC Macintosh or Pentium 120 MHz PC to run.
Pub date: 6/08/98