By ROBB GUIDO
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 10, 2001
MAKER: Electronic Arts
PRICE: $9.95 a month after free one-episode trial
Vast government conspiracies, anonymous calls, a guy named Deep Throat. It's not the stuff of Woodward and Bernstein, or Hillary Clinton. It's Majestic, an interactive mystery game that starts online and spills over into your real life.
Majestic can be found at Electronic Art's gaming Web site (www.EA.com). A free pilot episode introduces players, who must be 18 years or older, to the game's plot and mode of operation. Players receive phone calls, faxes, e-mails and instant messages during the course of an episode.
For instance, the pilot kicks off with a call from a mysterious informant, who confides that a certain fire was no accident.
You can opt out of any of these forms of communication, but they add an exciting element of realism to the experience.
The game, which features adult themes and explicit language, involves gathering clues by visiting real and contrived Web sites, then choosing a course of action. You may be forced to make a call, send an e-mail or click on a Web link. Players are grouped with other players, and you can solicit clues from fellow team members.
The pilot episode centers on a ruthless shadow government that uses murder and mind control to reach its ends. Combing through Web sites for clues can be a bit of a bore, but the calls, video feeds and plot twist are enough to keep players interested and wanting more.
Of course, future episodes come at a price of $9.95 a month.