Available: November 18, 2003.
Demo: SP (79 MB) / MP (157 MB)




XIII © UbiSoft
Preview By: Kurt Knudsen


XIII brings a unique idea to the FPS genre. It puts you in the shoes of a man who lost his memory and is constantly getting flashbacks. The thing that sets this apart from other FPS games are the graphics. Instead of trying to look photorealistic, this game is made as if it were a comic book. The graphics are incredible, beyond what one would expect. If you have seen Spiderman 2003 then you can get a small idea of how the graphics are done, they use the same cell shading techniques for the characters.

You start off on a beach and find a woman who is trying to help you. It seems that you're suffering from amnesia and identity loss... As you get up and go, you get your first flashback. This gives you the glimpse of your past and what you were trying to do. As the story progresses you meet some bad dudes that want you dead, what a surprise! You must leave the building you are in and rush to the other end of the island to get away. On your way there you see a variety of scenery, from cliffs to oceans and boats. All of this shows off the engine's capability very well; it is good to know it can handle out-door levels flawlessly.



The character models look and act superbly. Most of the time their animation flows very well; although it seems they have some trouble walking down stairs. Instead of walking they appear to glide... but keep in mind that this is a beta build of the game. Other than that the animations are very well done and appear very lifelike. The models themselves have shading all over them which gives you the feeling you are playing a comic book, rather than a generic game.

The game uses the famous Unreal Warfare engine. While the graphics are completely different, you can expect the same quality as the original game. The game runs very smooth, even for a beta. I haven’t figured out the FPS setting, but it never drops too low to where it’s noticeable. The surroundings look great, as if they were taken straight out of a comic book. Plainly, everything looks as if it was from a comic book, and the game plays like one. It really is a great change from the norm.



When you shoot someone you can see the comic book come to life. You see the words ‘Bang’, ‘Tak’, etc near or on the enemy, much like a comic book. When someone dies they scream ‘Ahhh’ and that appears as well; it’s quite an interesting feature. Of course those aren’t the only words you see: you also see ‘Tap’ for footsteps and such. The footstep noises are extremely important for the game, since they tell you where the enemy is when you are sneaking around.

The music is action packed and keeps your heart racing as you run and hide from the bad guys. The game can get really intense in some areas, and you aren’t even fighting! You have to sneak around places and not be seen, and as simple as it sounds it definitely isn’t. The sound effects are just as good as the music. They do the job very well, and sound as real as they should, although they're nothing out of the ordinary.



The voices that you hear in the game are excellent as the game features an impressive cast of voice talents, including X-Files' David Duchovny. The text that you see adds more to the comic-book style atmosphere. Even people with the smallest parts have great voices, the only sad part is that their lives are cut short when you must kill or knock them out. The voices in the flashback scenes have that dreamy sound to them; this is a great effect that adds to the scene.

You can shoot someone who is on a cliff and watch him fall to his doom. You can also pick up bodies and move them around, or out of the way of watchful enemies. When you kill someone, or knock them out, you have the opportunity to get their weapons and whatever else they’ve dropped. You can also scout around the surrounding area to find ‘hidden’ weapons and med kits.



Conclusion:

Overall this game offers a great experience that will keep many people happy for quite some time. It brings a different look to a classic genre that will please comic book fans and hardcore gamers alike. I really loved playing this game: the game play was simply addicting and I just couldn’t wait to find out more about my character and what would happen next. I personally can not wait for this game to come out; it will make an excellent addition to my growing collection of PC games that I love to play.


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