Author Topic: XIII review  (Read 2033 times)

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Offline Deguello

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XIII review
« on: January 08, 2004, 12:39:06 PM »
XIII is V more than VIII.

Review by Jeff Shirley

When I first heard about XIII, I was strangely excited.  It’s not that I am a XIII fan or a comic book fan in particular, but what I saw was an unprecedented amount of style and presentation not normally found in a video game.  Thankfully, the style remains, even if the game is relatively cookie-cutter.

The first thing you will notice about XIII is that it is cel-shaded, and rightly so, being based off of a European comic book.  The cel-shading looks great, even if the models are a little simplistic and the textures average.  The visual comic book style is also very neat and functions well in the game, with action onomatopoeia like "BLAM!",  "Arrr", and "Aaaaaaa" (when an opponent falls of a cliff).  Comic panels show up to highlight mission-critical objects like keys and give you the edge against your foes by showing you where they are and alerting you to possible ambushes.  Your character can detect enemy presence through walls by "seeing" footsteps.  And of course, there is the totally neat three-panel display of your aimed sniper bullet, arrow, or harpoon piercing the head of a victim, putting the "graphic" in this graphic novel game.  Presentation is the king here.

The game itself is a foray into the cheap spy novels of old.  And the one thing that sets the mood of this game perfectly is the retro 50’s-60’s music.  You’ll find yourself smiling as you listen to these throwback tunes.  But the smile will disappear when somebody talks.  The voice acting borders on the knife edge of average, leaning toward below.  Eve, who plays Major Jones, isn’t really voice acting with any kind of effort.  It's more effort than the three Charlie’s Angels stars gave in their game, but not much.  David Duchuvny is deadpan throughout the whole game, which suits a man who lost his memory, but sometimes it gets annoying.  The thing I wonder is whether all this star power is worth it.  Of course, there are some good points, but most are just average, with one really bad voice sample of an enemy saying "We got him!" in what I believe the French think is a New York accent.

As for the game itself, you follow the twisty-turny JFK-style conspiracy about the identity of a man code-named XIII and why he killed the president.  The missions are a very straightforward mix of action and stealth.  It's the good kind of stealth, where the game isn’t all anal by ending the game as soon as you are seen.  You still have a chance, so to speak.  The game is fun, and I found myself enjoying it thoroughly.  XIII can interact somewhat with his environment.  He can pick up objects like brooms and chairs to clobber people with, as well as bricks and glass (grisly headshot) to throw.  XIII can also manually break vents to find alternate paths, making for more strategic gameplay.  However, I am not without some nagging gripes.  For some reason, unless you are using a sniper scope, a gunshot to the head isn’t fatal to these thugs.  Sometimes you may have to shoot a bad guy 3 times in the head with the handguns to kill him.  Rockets seem to do an unfair amount of damage.  For example, in the canyon level, I died by a rocket that wasn’t even fired in my general direction.  It hit a wall that was way behind me and it still killed me.  Many times I died just because I turned a corner and some guy with a rocket got a shot off, and even if you have the reflexes of a cat on cappuccino, you won’t be able to dodge the laughably slow-moving rocket before it hit the wall and kills you.   This kind of try-and-die stuff mars some really great level design.

Multiplayer exists, and it is downright typical.  Except for an inventive mode called "The Hunt" where a skeleton runs around the level and you nail it for points, the other modes definitely have a "been there, done that" feel.  One odd thing I found about the multiplayer is that, unless I have a bugged copy or something of that ilk, I could not choose my character.  I was always this "Roger" dude, and the second player I played with was XIII himself.  That said, the multiplayer is fun, even if it feels tacked on.

Although XIII is a bit lacking in the depth department, the comic book presentation deserves to be seen at least once.  Shooter fans should like this game.  What's there is fun, even if you may have played it before in other games.

Pros:
  • Excellent comic presentation
  • Retro 60’s spy music
  • Aaaaa!  Arrr!  BLAM!  Woooosh!  Biff!

    Cons:
  • Flat voice acting
  • Trial and error style gameplay that really needs to die out these days
  • Apparent lack of some multiplayer options

    Graphics Score: 8.0
    Lovely and stylish cel-shaded graphics set the mood for a dark conspiracy thriller, even if some of the textures are blurry and the models simple.

    Control: 7.0
    Good enough control, despite some gripes about the Action/Reload/Take Hostage/Eat Pizza functions all being mapped to the same button.  It creates weird situations where you reload and open a door at the same time to find some enemies shooting at you while XIII is fumbling with his guns.

    Sound: 7.0
    Fantastic music marred by flat actors.  It leaves one to ponder why UbiSoft got celebrities in the first place.

    Gameplay: 7.0
    Although you will find some new ideas that concern themselves with the comic book presentation, this game almost feels like a retread.  Some things probably should have been tweaked.  The rockets do an unfair amount of damage.

    Lastability: 6.0
    Although XIII has some cool multiplayer modes, what were they thinking when they elected not to let players choose their own characters?

    Final Score (not an average): 7.5
    I had some good fun, and the presentation is worth a look, but once you finish it, you may not be so compelled to play through it again.
  • It's time you saw the future while you still have human eyes.

    ... and those eyes see a 3DS system code : 2750-1598-3807

    Offline Olpus

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    RE: XIII Review
    « Reply #1 on: January 09, 2004, 08:03:39 PM »
    Hello there guys.
    I have just seen this post, but no one is posting in it...
    Anyway, here is my post.

    I have just buyed the PAL version of XIII. I'm playing whit the language setted in Italian (Why? Easily, I'm an italian...) and i noticed a bug in the multiplayer version. It isn't a big flaw, luckily, but it isn't a good example of good programming for Dargaud (the developer of XIII).
    In the maps where there is the UZI, and playing in three or more players, when you shoot whith this gun, your screen often obscurate in half part.
    It's like you cover your right part of the screen (when playing in split screen) with a black coloured (or in some case green) sheet. The effect is momentary, but you are a bit disturbed by this effect when playing with the UZI.

    It's all. For the remaining, the multiplayer mode is fun (unlike that crap of Medal Of Honor Frontline's multiplayer mode... Bad animations and poor number of frames in a second) and the gameplay remain strong.
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    Offline Olpus

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    RE: XIII Review
    « Reply #2 on: January 09, 2004, 08:06:52 PM »
    I forgot about it: I cant choose the character in muliplayer too, but I don't think it is a bug. In my humble opinion, it's only a not implemented feature.

    Anyone can explain me why?
    Nintendo: the best videogame and playing cards company in the world.