The newest shooter to come out from Ubisoft’s backyard is entitled XIII (Thirteen)and it’s based on a French comic book
xand3rro wrote this review on .
Besides the in-game movies and engine created ones, the story is pushed forward by seemingly random and semi-interactive flashbacks of the main character, flashbacks which are triggered at the sight of a person/location or during a conversation. The only thing that will disappoint you about the story is the mini-series style ending, which is totally anti-climatic and will leave players saying: “Oh you have got to be kidding me!” However, I believe XIII was conceived as the first in a game series, and the sequels will probably follow depending on the success of the initial game.
One of the main selling points of the game is its cell shaded graphic, which give it its comic book look and feel and from the start of the game you will be blown away by the original style and look of XIII. When the lifeguard mentioned above is shot, a sequence of “TA-TA-TA-TA” will appear on screen, symbolizing machine gun fire, with cartoon fonts as you would expect. Also, when an enemy is close enough you can “see” his footsteps due to the “Tap-tap’s that appear on screen, which allow you to pinpoint his exact position without having to be in direct line of sight.
The characters are highly detailed, with excellent models, hi-res textures and comic book looks, with strong defining lines and cell shading. When an enemy is far away, but still represents a threat to the player, a comic book panel will show up, to indicate his location (call it a sixth sense if you will). When you sniper someone, another three panels will appear, portraying his death. The locations are also good looking, and are diverse too, ranging from city banks, to desert areas, snowy mountains or military bases. The water and character flashbacks benefit from the services of pixel shading, while the particle effects and rag-doll physics add to the “realism” of the game. All of these elements, combined with a unique comic book style and artwork make XIII one of the best looking shooters out there. Although the graphics are impressive and original, the same thing cannot be said about the core gameplay. Although it had all the elements to be an above average shooter, XIII simply doesn’t pack a lot of punch. There are some stealth missions, but they simply lack the intensity needed for such “endeavors”. The rest is just good old firefighting with lots of enemies, on you’re way from point A to point B. As a variation, you will sometimes need to protect an NPC from point a to point B, and you will have to kill your enemies pretty fast, because the NPC won’t care much for his own life, but more on that later.
The puzzles are your typical “find the key (in this case magnetic card) to open a certain door”, a door which you can’t open by yourself using the lockpick (you can pick the locks of certain doors… all you have to do is the lockpick on the door and wait for the “hacking” timer to expire). Although you can use a grappling hook to get past certain areas of the game, the exact locations of where you can use it are pretty well hidden, and you will have to be very close to them in order for your cursor to change and allow you to use the hook. There are some interesting ideas implemented though, like using a hostage as a human shield so that the police doesn’t fire on you, or using chairs to knock out your enemies (for instance, at the beginning of the game, you will be required to get out of a bank without killing any of the guards).