XIII Review

XIII Review

XIII

Platform: PC, PS2, GC, Xbox
Release Date: 10/21/2003
Price: $49.99 ($39.99 for PC)
Final Rating: 7.5/10

Introduction

XIII is a game that looks fantastic on the surface, from its stylish
graphics, jazzy soundtrack, and intriguing storyline (at least in the
beginning). But as you play the game, XIII will feel more like just another
generic FPS game rather than a breakthrough. Ultimately, the presentation
is what got me through this whole game, not the average gameplay.

For those of you who don’t know , XIII is cell-shaded. Everything in
the game is drawn in a comic book style with bright and distinct colors
and shadows, thick black outlines, and the works. I personally liked the
graphics in the game a lot. I liked the fact that it was very different
from all the other FPS’s I’ve played. Some of the parts of the game look
fantastic and look like they’re right out of a comic book page. The environments
are varied and look great for the most part, although at time they lose
their comic book feel. There’s a desert, a lake, winter landscape, a hotel,
a bank, a submarine, an army base, warehouses, estates, and others to
keep the visuals from becoming stale.

I liked the way the characters looked, except their lips didn’t synch
to their speech at all. But they were drawn and shaded very well and there
were enough of them to keep a good variety. When you get a headshot kill
on an enemy, you’ll see a "Nooo," "Argh," or something
to that effect on top of them. Also, when you shoot enemies off of high
cliffs or ledges, a picture-in-picture style animation of him falling
to his death will appear on the upper left corner.

Audio (9/10)

I liked the soundtrack. The jazzy background music is a refreshing change
from all the other FPS games and is appropriate for most of the game.
The voice acting is solid. Adam West and Eve fit their roles and do a
good job. The sound effects are good too, and there’s little touches and
effects to make the game more immersive, such as being deafened a little
bit when a bazooka hits near you (similar to mortar effects in Call of
Duty). Overall, the graphics and audio do a fine job sucking you into
the game.

Gameplay (6/10)

They could have made this game GREAT, or at least really good. They had
the presentation, the style, and chose to overlook the gameplay.

First of all, the game is very linear. Don’t expect open-ended missions
or multiple paths because there are none. You feel like you’re simply
following a storyline rather than making it or interacting with it. Most
of the time, you’ll just be shooting everyone in an area and moving onto
the next. The story itself seems interesting and unfolds well in the beginning,
but it turns out to be pretty predictable. There are stealth elements
in the game, but it’s not incorporated well at all. There were maybe 1-2
instances in the whole game where I actually needed to hide a body. The
enemies are pretty much DEAF so you don’t need worry about being quiet.
The weapons also need some tweaking. For one thing, the assault rifles
SUCK. Even in burst fire mode or even when you shoot one bullet at a time
while crouching. At medium or long range, the 9mm pistol and the .44 revolver
are so much more accurate than the assault rifles.

There are a lot of objects like bottles, wooden chairs, ashtrays, and
broomsticks you can pick up and knock people out with. It’s a cool concept
but it becomes laughable because of the bad AI and stealth element. Also,
you can take people hostage in the game, but it’s very scripted and there’s
only a couple of places where you can do it.

The combat AI is pretty weak. Sometimes they’ll use cover, but they’ll
never react differently to situations or use teamwork. Eventually they’ll
come running straight at you and you can pop out and nail them. One of
the best ways of beating the missions is to simply run full speed through
the level and charge at the enemies while shooting at their heads. The
enemy AI is too stupid to prevent you from charging them and their aim
is horrible, even on the highest difficulty.

Oh by the way, you cannot save the game anywhere. You CAN save the game
anywhere and there’s even a "quicksave," but when you load the
game, you’ll start at the beginning of the level or at the last checkpoint
There’s some cool gadgets in the game. I liked the grappling hook and
the fact that you can control your swing on it and still use guns while
you’re on the hook.

The presentation stays cool through the game though. As you progress
more into the game, you’ll get more story elements in the form of comic
book pages, and you’ll discover secret documents that reveal more about
your past and the conspiracy. There’s also a chart that reveals more members
of the conspiracy as you find out about them or fight them.

Concluding Thoughts (7.5/10)

It’s a shame to see so much potential gone to waste. This game
just oozes style, and it even has a few new elements or neat tricks. But
the more you play it, the more you’ll realize that the gameplay is just
so average, even boring at times.


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