XIII Updated Hands-On Impressions

We spend a little quality time with the Xbox version of Ubi Soft's upcoming first-person shooter at ECTS 2003.

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On a recent visit to Ubi Soft's ECTS booth, we played through a couple of levels on the Xbox version of XIII. Both of the levels we played shared a number of similarities, perhaps the most intriguing of which was the fact that they contained a large number of enemy characters that we weren't allowed to harm--not permanently, anyway.

In the first level, we were required to escape from a large financial building that was in the process of being robbed. The area was swarming with guards who had wrongly assumed that we were involved in the robbery, but despite their persistence, we were told that killing any of them would cause us to automatically fail the mission. As luck would have it, the room's first level contained a female employee who was very easy to take hostage. Carefully positioning her between ourselves and the guards at all times caused them to follow us cautiously, but anytime we inadvertently offered them a clear shot at us, they were pretty quick to seize the opportunity. Getting into and activating an elevator proved especially tricky at one point, and so we were forced to approach each guard in turn and knock him out with punches so we could make our escape safely--at which point we were promptly arrested by the FBI agents waiting outside.

Unsurprisingly, the next level we played involved escaping from the FBI without actually harming any of them. Fortunately, the FBI building contained all manner of objects that could be used to temporarily incapacitate our enemies, and it wasn't long before half of the Bureau had fallen victim to wooden chairs, ashtrays, bottles, and the like. Taking the fallen enemies' weapons and ammunition felt a little pointless for a while, but it wasn't long before we arrived in an area where FBI agents were engaged in a gunfight with a second group of enemies that had somehow infiltrated the building. Discerning between the two groups seemed tricky at first, but when we noticed that the crosshair changed depending on whether our target was viable, our situation improved somewhat and we were able to complete the level without too many problems.

Both of the levels we played were well designed and seemed to do a good job of offering gameplay that was both challenging and varied. Ammunition for more-powerful weapons was severely limited, and the areas that we were forced to negotiate using only melee weapons provided a welcome change of pace from the occasionally generic-seeming pistol action. XIII is currently scheduled for release on October 10, and the version of the game that we played was approximately 80-percent complete. For more information on XIII, check out our previous coverage of the game.

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