Review By: Jared
|# Of Players:
||1-2 (6 online)
||Memory Card, Network Adaptor
To stand out in today’s crowded FPS market, every game needs a
special something that differentiates it from the competition. In
XIII, the player assumes the role of a man that’s forgotten
his identity and sets out to get some answers. That storyline’s
been done a lot in recent years though, so really this game’s “hook”
is its unique comic book visual style. It should surprise no one
then that it actually is based on a French comic book.
Even if the storyline has been done a lot recently in other mediums,
it’s still pretty unique in the video game world despite somewhat
similar games like
Max Payne. Told in true comic book style, XIII has
one of the deepest storylines you’ll find in a FPS. Throughout the
game the main character will have flashbacks that fill in details of
his former life, and in-between most levels cutscenes nicely
illustrate events in the present. A variety of top secret documents
and files are scattered throughout the game, and they contain things
like pictures, bank transfers, and other secretive stuff that help
round out the conspiracy. It’s a story that rivals the best stuff
found on TV.
Too bad the gameplay can’t quite keep up, although it’s pretty good
in its own right. Although the game features 15 different weapons,
the player will end up using only a few most of the time. The
crossbow is best for sniping quietly, the knife best for close
quarters killing, etc. The crossbow is slower to shoot and reload,
making it one of the few weapons really requiring skill to use
properly. Only a few weapons are really interesting (like the
harpoon), but unfortunately these are only used in a couple of
instances throughout the game. To compliment these weapons the
player will “remember” a variety of skills they used to know
throughout the course of the game, making it easier to track
enemies, shoot straight, etc.
Unfortunately enemy A.I. is predictable, with any semblance of
taking cover represented by enemy soldiers running from Point A to B
and back again. In many instances when sniping I was able to
predict exactly where an enemy would move to based on where they
were before. As a result I could just place the crossbow curser in
that location and wait for them to move back to that spot. Enemies
are always in the same location every time an area is played, making
it a memory challenge after a few playthroughs. After a while this
makes combat boring and repetitive.
Levels are broken up primarily into sneaking and blasting areas.
Sneaking around office buildings doesn’t work quite the same as in
Splinter Cell, as this game is much more forgiving. The
player is provided many visual clues using pop-up comic book
windows, showing enemies going into other rooms, on patrol, etc. If
spotted, the player only has to kill whoever spotted him before they
can sound off the alarm. Doesn’t matter how loud the player chooses
to be when doing it, even if there are several enemies in the next
room. While a bit unrealistic, it’s for the better here since it
keeps the action fast-paced.
The game also supports online play, but quite frankly it doesn’t
really stand out as anything unique (despite what the box says). In
addition to standard deathmatch modes, it features the Sabotage mode
that requires one team to defend a series of checkpoints while
another tries to blow them up. Decent enough, but nothing special
when compared to what Ubisoft and others have already done on Xbox (Rainbow
Ghost Recon: Island Thunder, etc.). It also requires
registration at ubi.com.
Using a comic book style, Ubisoft was able to create one of the most
unique looking games yet. XIII oozes style, with hazy black
and white flashbacks, close ups of gruesome weapon hits, and plenty
of cel-shaded goodness. Characters really do look like they’re
straight out of a comic book, with plenty of facial detail and
unique looks. A soldier’s distant footsteps are represented with
positional “TAP”s, while huge explosions bring a big “BLAM”
onscreen. The environments are less interesting, as some are
cel-shaded while others are not. Many areas have few objects in
them, and many look the same with repetitive textures and the same
The music is a nice mix of jazz tunes, which do a much better job of
complimenting XIII’s world than a standard rock score would’ve. The
music intensifies whenever there’s danger, and then reverts back to
a more subdued volume & pacing during times of calm. The voice
acting is also excellent, featuring the work of David Duchovny (as
XIII), Adam West (as the General), and Eve (as Jones). Less
heralded but just as important is a ton of conversation heard from
enemies throughout the adventure, with discussion ranging from the
mission at hand to the idle chatter bored soldiers tend to talk
about. Sound effects are a little weak though, as weapons lack the
oomph found in most other games and environmental sounds are fairly
The comic book
style is done really well.
acting is excellent, as is the music score.
The A.I. is
predictable and obviously scripted.
effects are a little bland.
is great…for a free TV show. Cliffhangers that point and laugh at
you because they know you’ll have to buy the sequel to get the
full story aren’t good for $50 games.
unique style and interesting storyline more than make up for the
lacking A.I., pedestrian weapons, and sometimes-bland environments.
I’m a sucker for a good conspiracy story, and XIII kept me
interested until the very end.
A word of warning though: this game is most definitely not for
children. All the parental lock feature does is tone down the
already tame gore, as if that’s somehow worse for your child than
the constant swearing throughout the game. I realize that the
game’s rated Mature, but parents (who don’t pay attention to those
anyway) might be fooled into think this feature somehow makes it