STAFF REVIEW of XIII (Xbox)


Monday, December 15, 2003.
by ShannonX

XIII Box art XIII brings together first person shooter action and cellshading technology to create a unique game that otherwise would just be a standard fair shooter. As you are probably aware of, you don't see cellshaded games everyday, or if you do see one, its not guaranteed that it will be done effectively. Thankfully, it turns out that XIII happens to fall into the "better" category in the cellshading department. It combines cellshading, a comic book look and feel that comic book fans are sure to enjoy, and an intriguing story line that will keep you itching to play just so you can find out the true story about what happened to you. The name of the game, XIII, or rather, "Thirteen" is actually a big part of the mystery surrounding this game as you will come to find out during your venture.


When the game first begins, you get to see a short cut scene that gives you a little pre story into why you happen to be in the situation you start the game in. You start off on a beach where a lifeguard finds you. You get taken to the lifeguard station where you suddenly get thrown right into the action and get your first weapons.

Game play modes range from your normal run and gun to missions that make you sneak around without setting off alarms or being spotted. This means when you kill somebody, you gotta go hide the bodies. Sound familiar? This does help break up the same old shoot, kill, shoot, kill, and put in some basic strategy. Do you run up behind that enemy soldier and knock him out, or do you pull out your trust crossbow and take him out from far away? You choice really, you can do it either way, at the game, you will see smaller screens pop up in the middle of your TV. When you see these, take note. You'll be meeting up with the people displayed in those screens soon enough. This is one of the "skills" that you have called your six sense skill. You actually have a variety of skills ranging from sniper skills which let you zoom in and not have to steady your aim to medic skills which causes each med-kit to double in effectiveness. To find these skills you have to find "important documents" hidden throughout the maps. Most of the time, they are laying in plain view, so you should not have much difficulty locating them.

Also, as you progress through the missions, you will have a comic book style story unfold from the main menus before you enter a game. You will get a short story board of what you have discovered so far. You will also uncover hidden identities that you can browse outside of the actual game. So in general, this game is a solid shooter and has some good game play elements to keep you hooked at least until you beat the game, which shouldn't take the normal first person gamer a great deal of time.

Also included in the game is the ability to play on-line. Nothing overly special in that department, but still its a good sign when you see games that actually are able to be played on-line, and are not just "on-line aware". Props to Ubisoft for making this happen.


Visually the game turns out a solid performance. While cell shading may not agree with everybody out there, it is used very effectively in the game. If you like comic books you'll definitely enjoy the in-game visuals. None of the character models are overly complex, but you do tend to see the same models over and over again throughout the game.

The developers went out of their way to try and help the gamer feel like he's really in the game. When its raining outside, you actually see water drops on your "view". This has been done in other games, but its not everyday you see cell shaded games do this. In general, the colors are bright, except in some cases where you have drab colors, but those are mostly when you running around in military camps.

Blood looks pretty good. Although when you kill somebody, you don't actually see bullet wounds, but you do get to see a small bloodstain on the ground that will stay around even if the body disappears, and yes, all bodies will eventually disappear. I was slightly disappointed about that, but its just a small annoyance.


The back of the box listed Dolby digital for the in game sound. I'm not sure If the disk I received was defective or not, but I didn't hear any "Dolby digital" sounds.

My main gripe was the delayed sounds from gunshots or explosions. I can't be sure if its the game or my disk that was messed up, but it got very annoying, very quickly. I could hold my trigger down and fire, and a second later sound would start. I'm hoping it was just a defective disk, because this ruins an otherwise good gaming experience.

In game voice-overs that told the story and helped you along with the missions were entertaining. While they could have probably been better, it didn't detract from the game-play overall.


Suggestions:
My only suggestions would be to make a sequel to XIII. It was a fun game that deserves a followup.


Overall: 9.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.2 / 10
Visuals: 9.4 / 10
Sound: 8.8 / 10

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