XIII review

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XIII is a video game based on a famous homonymous comic book, telling a story of a special agent who has lost his memory. The original comics were popular enough to give a birth to one more product. Since then, there were no news about the sequel, however the upcoming release of XIII: Remake may arouse interest among these who have not heard about this game before. This article is written specially for them.

The story starts very similarly to Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne novel: the main character is found without a memory and has a key allowing to gain access to a safe in the bank. What happens next changes the plot drastically in compassion with a novel or a well-known movie. Things go one after another so quickly that you can’t follow the storyline in full. For instance, now a character is in a mountainy base and next he is in a snowy valley. Storyline runs forward so dramatically that you can’t understand why the events develop so rapidly. The final third will surprise you by unusual storyline twists and the ending will be unexpected with a small hint implying on a possibility of the sequel.

As for gameplay, it’s a typical action game about spies as it was seen in 007: Nightfire (do you remember this game, by the way?). The main character can walk, run, crouch, stun enemies from the back, take hostages and use different types of weapons. Proficient in fist fights and throwing knives, the protagonist can withstand a battle with three or five enemies at once. Equipped with bullet-proof vest, he can take a lot of damage, however the direct confrontation with five or more enemies usually ends not so well for him.

The game offers stealth elements. Besides action scenes, there are at least four missions where the main character has to be silent: one alert leads to restart of the level. These episodes are very hard to complete and speaking about it, XIII is the hardest stealth game that I’ve played so far. Some episodes are easier than others, some are frustratingly difficult and make you replay the part of the level.

Checkpoint system is very odd here: you need to save manually every time but only checkpoints are saved, all further progress is lost. Hopefully this will be fixed in the remake, but so far it’s not so good.

Interface is convenient but switching between weapons and tools may be sometimes uncomfortable. Speaking about graphics, it’s outdated, but not so much and sometimes can be very beautiful (look at the screenshot below).

Music is repetitive and sometimes you get tired of it very quickly, as for the voice acting, it’s a perfect job. All of the actors played flawlessly and this is a huge plus of the game.

Level design leaves positive emotions. Some levels are very complicated and nicely done. They are linear in their majority but some locations have alternative paths. You’ll visit so many unique places that it’s very hard not to be excited by all of this.

The game obviously has disadvantages. There are only three of them – the extreme difficulty of stealth missions on normal level of difficulty (it’s hard to imagine what goes on realistic level of difficulty, but you can guess), tough bosses requiring two or three full clips from an assault weapon and the last level when the main character has to stun enemies by chairs, mops and other items – it’s a very dubious pleasure. Other than this, the game is fine, although sometimes the gameplay may be repetitive or you may not know what to do.

The game has secret files scattered through missions – they are very important for the story and can be viewed from the main menu. The same goes for the main story comic – you can read it from the main menu.

As the character progresses in the game his skills are regained. As a result, the man character receives new abilities during the game.

XIII is almost good. Gameplay could be more diverse, music could be a little bit better. But even now in its current state, it’s better than some other games of this kind. The only advice that I can give is to play it little by little – ten or fifteen minutes in a day – the game is enough saturating for this. Don’t rush in this game; comprehended walkthrough is the best fit for this product.