XIII Review

Even though it barely resembles the console version, it's one of the best side-scrolling action games available for the cell.

The fine folks at Gameloft are indomitably can-do when it comes to porting console titles to mobile, and they've done their usual stellar job with Ubisoft's cel-shaded smash hit. Thanks to Gameloft's porting chops, XIII has made the transition from first-person shooter to mobile side-scroller with little degradation in entertainment value.

Just in case you have somehow missed the media blitz that has accompanied XIII's console release like a biblical plague, I will summarize quickly. Your character is the eponymous XIII, a latter-day Manchurian (or perhaps Francophone) Candidate who wakes up on a beach with a raging case of amnesia and a burning desire to figure out why he's been accused of killing the president. Enough backstory; on to the side-scrolling and goon-plugging!

Even if it could never hope to match its console relative's visual chops, XIII looks great. The animation is detailed and fluid, and the backgrounds are vivid, if considerably less than inventive--the FBI level looks like it was lifted straight out of NARC's office building and redecorated by Pitfall Harry. The sound is utilitarian and stodgy; the only aural feature of note is the strangely funky bass riff attached to the title screen, which momentarily made me think that Flea had finally called me back about those songs I sent him. Dang.

XIII shines in terms of gameplay. It's easy to move XIII around; the jumping feels spot-on, and his Mega Man-like sliding move is truly a boon once you encounter hopping villains in the later levels. Weapons and power-ups are strewn about the levels at a perfect frequency, and you can never run out of ammo for your pistol, which is a very good thing when baddies are popping out of helicopters like demented Eggo waffles. Electric gates and mines spice matters up considerably--especially since it only takes a single mine explosion to fade you. Later in the game, timed mines and gates make things even more interesting, and by interesting I mean maddeningly frustrating. Luckily, a few practice runs at any difficult sequence is usually enough, thus the game is never so hard as to prompt hand-washing. The in-game dialogue is kind of dumb, as it mostly consists of Jones telling you to cover her or some malefactor threatening you. XIII's console papa is largely story-driven--but there was no room to translate this verbal aspect to cell, so you'll have to content yourself with breaking out of places you never entered and rescuing people you've never heard of. Nevertheless, I kind of like the death screen, which advises you not to "get yourself killed!" I personally could have used a standing reminder.

Download XIII ASAP. Even though it barely resembles the console version, it's one of the best side-scrolling action games available for the cell. It's a fairly quick play, but you can always lose your memory and start it over.

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XIII More Info

  • First Released Nov 18, 2003
    • GameCube
    • Macintosh
    • + 7 more
    • Mobile
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • PlayStation 2
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox
    • Xbox One
    XIII has a unique and potentially interesting premise, but the game doesn't really differentiate itself from the wide array of other first-person shooters on the market.
    Average Rating4714 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Ubisoft Paris, PlayMagic Ltd, Zonic, Gameloft, Southend Interactive
    Published by:
    Ubisoft, Microids, Feral Interactive, Gameloft, ak tronic, Marvelous
    Action, First-Person, Shooter, 3D
    Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.
    Blood, Intense Violence