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XIII (Windows)

75
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Paul Sinnett (497)
Written on  :  Feb 11, 2004
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars3.43 Stars

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful

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Summary

Best attempt at a playable comic book yet

The Good

The graphics were what first attracted me to this game. The comic book style is not only visually pleasing but also integrated into the gameplay elements. For example if you wait by a door the words "TAP TAP TAP" represent the presence, and also the location and direction of any guards moving on the other side. Also panel overlays often show views of important items or dangerous situations. Hopefully a sequel will expand on these elements.

Underneath all the comic book gloss is a solid story and some good gameplay elements. My favourite sections were the stealth sections which are done very well even with the absence of a MGS style enemy view cone. The AI on the average soldiers is quite good which makes up for the disappointing AI on the boss characters. This is not a game where running in and blasting away will get you very far.

The ability to knock-out guards with things you find around you is a nice idea. Unfortunately, the tedious throw aside animation means that if you miss you'll have to stand there in a hail of bullets before you can perform a follow-up attack.

The music tracks help to complete the mood of the game and are in keeping with the overall style. The idle chatter of the guards are also an amusing diversion when you have to play the same section several times.

The Bad

I didn't get off to a good start with this title. Firstly I couldn't install from the discs - I had to copy the files to the hard drive first, and then install from there. Secondly, the copy protection system wouldn't let me play the game even with the disc in the drive! I contemplated cracking the game but eventually found out that the copy protection data doesn't exist on the install disc and you have to use the first game disc. I regretted my decision to persevere with the legitimate system later when it turned out you still had to disc swap even if you installed the entire game (what's the point of having the option if you still have to disc swap?) These pathetic anti-piracy efforts are only annoying for legitimate customers of course!

While most of the levels are well balanced, the boss levels are another story. They aren't hard because they have better AI or skills than the normal bad guys: they're hard because you have to hit them so many times. For example a direct hit with a rifle grenade will barely touch most of the boss characters, yet the splash back from this same grenade could well kill you! You are more likely to fail these levels through lack of ammunition than through lack of tactical skill. Only persistence will eventually get you through.

The save game system is quite flaky too. Several times I had to play the same level two or three times because the game didn't save properly.

The Bottom Line

It is an interesting twist on the first person shooter, with a distinctive graphical style, and well designed plot. But beneath the style it brings very little new to the genre.