- XIII (2020 on Windows, Xbox Series, PlayStation 4...)
Description official descriptions
XIII is a cel-shaded first-person shooter based on the popular Belgian cult comic created by Jean Van Hamme and illustrated by William Vance. The game is loosely based on the first five comics. The main theme of the game is based on Robert Ludlum's book The Bourne Identity, and features a man who is suffering from amnesia and quite possibly involved in the recent assassination of the President of the United States. The hero knows almost nothing except that he must be important, since everyone is trying to kill him. Gradually uncovering the mystery, the hero, learns more about his secret agent past and his curious name: XIII.
The player unravels clues, trying to solve a conspiracy set in an environment that breathes a comic book ambiance. Footsteps and shots are visualized in text and actions: for example, head shots are shown in a series of still images. Aside from that, the game has all the typical FPS elements: both stealth and action, more than fifteen weapons (shotguns, crossbows, rifles, ...), interaction with environmental objects and plenty of enemies in levels spread all over the world. During the game, the player can learn a number of skills such as silent walking, lockpicking and dual weapons handling.
- 杀手十三 - Simplified Chinese spelling
- 3D Engine: Unreal Engine 2
- Gameplay feature: Body dragging
- Gameplay feature: Drowning
- Gameplay feature: Lock picking
- Green Pepper releases
- Inspiration: Comics
- Middleware: Bink Video
- Setting: City - New York
- Setting: City - Washington, D.C.
- Software Pyramide releases
- Theme: Amnesia
- Ubisoft eXclusive releases
- Visual technique / style: Cel shaded
- XIII licensees
Credits (Windows version)
380 People (324 developers, 56 thanks) · View all
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|3D Artists and Special Effects|
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Average score: 78% (based on 65 ratings)
Average score: 3.5 out of 5 (based on 114 ratings with 6 reviews)
I didn't even know this game was released until recently. According to Mobygames, it was released in the beginning of October? I found that very strange, since this game was hyped to Hell and back during developement, and yet when it was finally released I heard absolutely nothing about it. That really led me to believe that the game was a huge flop. And I read some rather unsettling reviews on top of that, and a lot of people complained about terrible stealth missions. Oh, and the lack of a savegame feature...ugh. Everything I heard of this game just made me think more and more that it wasn't worth it. But thanks to online game trading sites, I managed to get ahold of a copy quite easily, and I must say that after finishing the game, I'm just astounded that this game isn't getting more attention.
This is the first cell-shaded game I've played, and boy did they take the time to make it absolutely perfect. The comic book graphics, the panels that appear on-screen, the three-panel still shot when you kill someone from a distance, in particular, is just wonderful. I've never been a big comic book fan, but I just love the style in this game. In almost any part of the game, were you to take a screenshot, you may not be able to tell whether it was in-game or part of an actual rendered comic book. Bravo, Ubi Soft!
XIII is a first person shooter. Despite its comic book style, it's still just a first person shooter, but it doesn't fail there at all, either. Plenty of guns to keep you occupied, head-shots (almost always) are instant-kills, walking makes you quiet, and lots of vents to crawl through. You sometimes take on enemies one at a time, sometimes you take down fifteen at a time. Lots of things you hide behind, and you can even use parts of the environment (knives, chairs, bottles) to aid you in combat. If you're not a first-person shooter fan, the game probably won't entertain you, but if you are a FPS fan, this game is great.
Also for use in your arsenal is a grappling hook, which, unlike many other games, works wonderfully. You can't use it anywhere, and in fact, it's only used in key parts of the game, but it works. You might have to use it to swing to a ledge, and you'll find that it works great. You won't be surprised by some strange force of physics that throw you around like a rag doll in the wind. Using it to sneak down to some bad guys talking about their evil plans was great fun.
There are about thirty-five levels in all. The levels are varied enough, although the sequence of advancing through each level doesn't change much. Outdoor areas tend to lead you through the environment, up hills, through swaps, accross snowy fields, etc. Indoor areas lead you through vents, computer rooms, smashing windows. What I mean is, you pretty much know what you're going to be doing in any level based on what kind of environment you find yourself in. Call this a good or bad thing, if you want.
The storyline is also intriguing. The whole "d00d I can't remember who I am!" thing has been done to death, but thankfully the story isn't really about that, so much as it is about the "Number" guys and their evil plots. Learning about yourself and regaining what little of your memory you can was a lot better when it wasn't the main focus of the plot. XIII is one of the few first-person shooters I've played lately which really had me glued to my seat. I didn't beat this game just to beat it, I beat it because I wanted to see the entire story.
It helped that the game isn't very hard at all. Bosses are tougher than normal guys, but not THAT much tougher. You won't spend an hour trying to beat a certain spot. At least, I didn't. I found the game to be very easy, and I liked it that way. I'm tired of realistic "die in one or two hits" FPSs, just because they make you exercize the quicksave/quickload buttons until your fingers bleed. No, this game isn't realistic, it's a run-and-gun game that's loads of fun to play.
I heard a lot of people complaining about the stealth missions. I can only think of one level in which took me more than three tries to beat because of the stealth elements. Seriously, I don't get what the big deal is. Yeah, if you want to just run in and kill everything, then you're probably going to really suck at the stealth missions...but heck, you don't even really need to be that stealthy. All you have to do is knock out the guards before they can reach an alarm, or hide the bodies well enough that a passing guard won't find it. I loved the stealth missions. They were easy, they were exciting, at times very tense. Bring on more stealth missions like these!
The only thing I really didn't like about this game was the voice acting. Everybody does a fine job except for David Duchovny. I don't know why they spent the money to hire the guy to do the voice acting, considering he has about a total of ten lines in the entire game that aren't "Oh" or "Unf!" or "Who am I?"
Also another thing that annoys me is that there is no lip-syncing. When a character talks, it looks like they're chewing some bubble gum.
The Bottom Line
XIII is one of the best first-person shooters out there. The storyline is great, the graphics are breathtaking, and the style is everything it's hyped up to be. Don't believe the poots that found the stealth missions too hard, because honestly, they're not hard at all.
Aside from Duchovny's voice acting ability and the "bubble-gum chewing" lip-syncing, I find this game almost flawless.
Windows · by kbmb (416) · 2004
Firstly, the cell-shaded graphics are excellent, and are what will undoubtedly draw most people to the game. Rather than being cartoony (like The Wind Waker), XIII - read 'thirteen' - actually looks and feels like a real graphic novel. It's a 3D comic and it works brilliantly. Hitting an enemy with a head-shot spawns a box-out window showing some white-bordered stills of the bullet finding its target which, although getting repetitive after a while, are hugely satisfying. Ubi Soft have tried hard to make the graphics mean more to the game than just eye-candy, though; explosions and enemy footsteps are displayed as a Batman-style 'Boom!' or 'tap-tap-tap...', meaning that the player can visually follow enemies that are obscured by buildings, etc, which is a useful feature.
The story takes amnesiac Steve Rowland across the US in an attempt to unravel a conspiracy surrounding an assassinated president. Locations are always interesting and varied (of particular note is the clifftop mansion towards the end of the game with beautiful ocean view) and the mix of stealthy, weaponless and blast 'em missions is good.
For GameCube owners coming to XIII after a spell away from the FPS genre, an improvement in enemy AI is immediately noticeable. Soldiers hide around corners, wait in ambush behind crates and inside doorways and actually notice (most of the time) that their partners have been taken out right in front of them. No more will the TimeSplitters2 strategy of popping your head round the corner and then waiting for baddies to stumble blindly into your line of fire bring you success.
Special mention must also be made of the game's ending of which, of course, I can say little here, other than than certain graphical effects are very cool indeed. Oh, and that it's playable!
On the negative side, some may find that XIII's story is a little too complicated. The plot is unveiled in spurts and starts with cut scenes at the end of some levels, leaving those without a good memory for character's names in the dark. There's no way to replay these cut scenes, even after finishing the game, which is a shame as they are certainly worth a repeat viewing. It is possible to watch a 2D comic style presentation of the story, but in contrast to the cut-scenes this serves to shed very little light on the conspiracy and the identity of Steve Rowland.
What's worse is that it isn't possible to replay your favourite levels without resorting to saving a new game after each. This is particularly frustrating given that there are hidden 'secret documents' to collect throughout the game - if you miss one, there's no opportunity to go back for it. Ubi Soft should have looked back to Goldeneye 007 for a lesson in how to manage this properly.
Also - and when will developers learn - why are the controls so odd? For some reason, 'B' is secondary fire, 'A' is action and 'R' and 'Z' are primary fire and crouch respectively. This will catch players out even after several hours of play. Surely primary and secondary fire should be 'R' and 'Z'! And why not give us the option to change it? Streetfighter II, back in the 16-bit era, gave us this freedom!
Ultimately, though, what lets this game down is just how unextraordinary it is. Sure, the graphics are superb, but once you see through them you'll realise how little it brings to the FPS table, borrowing heavily from Deus Ex and the other games by Rare and Free Radical Design that I mention above.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that XIII is a supremely enjoyable game with superb graphics, excellent sound effects and acting (including an underused David Duchovny, a nice choice for a conspiracy game). Just don't expect it to add anything new to your collection. FPS starved GameCube owners should definitely look into it.
GameCube · by Paul Jones (274) · 2004
You wash ashore like so much drift wood carrying only a key to a safety deposit box and the number XIII tattooed on your collarbone. Faint memories… a boat… a helicopter… are all you have. Somewhat dazed, you are led to a lifeguard shack by the woman on duty. Then the sounds of a helicopter and gunfire bring you around. Gunmen are moving in on the shack and all you can find to defend yourself is a knife. It's a good thing your muscle memory is combat-ready.
In XIII, the player takes on the role of ----- --- (David Duchovny), a man believed to be Steve Rowland, or XIII,—the assassin who gunned down President Sherridan. Since the only clue points to Winslow Bank, XIII begins his quest, both for his identity and the truth about the assassination, there. Instead of clearing the matter up, XIII finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy with government agents trying to capture him and rogue elements working to kill him. Caught between these two forces, XIII finds himself rescued by Major Jones (Eve) and is soon rescuing General Carrington (Adam West) from a renegade military force.
XIII is a fast-paced cel-shaded first-person shooter, based on a series of French graphic novels. Its resemblance to a playable comic book is its strongest feature. The cel-shading looks like a cartoon image, but offers more detail than other cel-shaded games have managed. Dialogue takes place in word balloons over the characters' heads, sound effects are presented in comic book fashion—machine guns fire out ammo with a visual "RAT-A-TAT-TAT"; footsteps are shown with "TAP TAP" (which is also an aid on stealth missions); explosions show a "BOOM." More impressive are in-game effects, like sniper shots that are shown with a pull-out panel effect and conversations that XIII can hear but cannot see, are shown via comic strips.
As XIII uncovers more of the conspiracy, he finds himself working through the twenty (I to XX) members of a clandestine group whose ultimate goal is the overthrow of the United States government. The variety of levels range from the aforementioned bank to a military base he must infiltrate, frozen tundra that conceals a cabin where Steve Rowland's wife is hiding, a submarine base, and more. In general, the outdoor levels look better than the indoor levels. Moving through levels typically involves finding magnetic security cards to open locked doors, but there's also a good deal of duct-crawling or plain old running and gunning. Mission objectives also strike a nice balance between all-out action or silent infiltration.
XIII is a trained killing machine—whoever he really is. If he sneaks up behind enemies he can quickly take them out or take a noncombatant hostage. He's quick with his fists, but he can also pick up chairs, ashtrays, brooms, and other objects to score a quick KO. As he progresses through the game, XIII finds shotguns, machineguns, pistols, crossbows, throwing knives, grenades, and a good old bazooka. He also can dual-wield pistols and miniguns (UZIs) for those special times when filling the air with lead is more important than accuracy.
The more XIII does in the game, the more he remembers about his past. Key areas or phrases trigger flashbacks to the events leading up to his amnesia. He regains his memory and recalls special skills: lock picking, diving, moving stealthily and more. He also remembers how to use gadgets, especially a very useful grappling hook. XIII can hook hotspots and then use the grapple's control to hoist himself up or lower himself down to an area. He can also swing back and forth on the cable to build enough momentum for a longer jump.
With few exceptions, all of XIII's enemies are gunmen: basic fodder, sharpshooters, or bosses who aren't afraid to pull out the heavy weaponry. While there are some AI issues, the player can change the difficulty setting on a sliding scale from Arcade (easy) to Realistic (one shot, one kill). XIII can find armor to reduce the damage he takes and while the game really doesn't use locational damage, headshots are usually the most effective.
The shortest possible version of my hour-long installation saga is to say that XIII and my anti-virus software didn't get along. Since this is the first time I've encountered this conflict, I blame XIII. Anyway, disabling my anti-virus software let me fully install XIII—the first full installation I've seen that still requires disk swapping. Another interesting programming feature is the quick save. Quick saves don't bookmark your position in-game, they act as a quick version of the regular save function that takes you back to the start of a level or the closest checkpoint. Also the game lacks any autosave function, so if you want to leave the game, make sure you've saved first.
XIII also relies too heavily on event triggers. At several points, XIII needs to escort people to an area. Just getting them to the area isn't enough, though. He also has to stand in the correct spot (usually right in front of them) for the next event to occur. At one point, I was defending my location against waves of enemies and eventually I killed them all. Then I waited… and backtracked… and tried jumping on everything… and shot some stuff… and checked a walkthrough to learn that I killed a bazooka man before he had the chance to blow a hole in a wall.
If you've seen The Bourne Identity or read the book, then the whole amnesia thing-go to a bank-find a conspiracy thing might sound familiar. I believe the French source material for the game acknowledges Robert Ludlum as an inspiration, but with the Jason Bourne movies being so big right now, XIII feels like a retread. It doesn't help that Duchovny has very few lines and his talents and the role's requirements don't match up. XIII does have a great story, but the game play is focused on the action not the plot. At times, I wasn't sure how I got to an area or how I knew to go there, except for a brief blurb.
The Bottom Line
In this age of graphical realism, I was impressed by the visual flair found in XIII. Call it style over substance, but I found the dynamic visuals in XIII refreshing. I've played other games with cartoon-like graphics or presented as an interactive graphic novel, but XIII pulls it off the best. While I have problems with the core gaming experience, I think XIII is a winner in terms of presentation. As a game though, XIII doesn't bring anything new to the table (except for gorgeous fireworks).
Windows · by Terrence Bosky (5375) · 2005
|Game with MSI!||Fred VT (25797)||Feb 19th, 2014|
|Cine14.bik||Daniel Saner (3467)||Aug 12th, 2007|
Not all the enemies in the game are pure fantasy. The look of at least two of them is based on real persons. One of them is Niels Bogdan, German PR-guy from Ubi Soft, the other one is more interesting: In cooperation with the German games-show NBC GIGA GAMES, the designers gave the viewers of the show the chance to get themselves into the game. They just had to send pictures - and the other viewers decided, which was the meanest looking villain, you could imagine.
Well, in the end, they didn't choose some mean looking guy - but a very, very mean, in a strange way, looking, young, ultra-nerdish guy. So, if you come across some really questionable villain who looks a bit like Bill Gates, you know why...
In the Canyon level, you can find three deserted graves. Unlike the tomb in the garden of the mansion, later on in the game, the names written on them do not refer to in-game characters, but to members of the development team: Olivier Dupin (2D), Marc Chevalier (3D Artists and Special Effects) and Nath Moschetti (Artistic Director).
The groovy seventies music is composed by artists associated with the San Francisco's Future Primitive Sound art collective. The soundtrack has been made available exclusively in a XIII game bundle that could be ordered from the Ubisoft site. There are no song titles, just 13 unidentified tracks that flow one into the other in one continuous mix.
- 2003 – Best PC Story of the Year
- 2003 – Best PC Innovation of the Year
- Computer Gaming World
- March 2004 (Issue #236) – Special Achievement in Art Direction
Information also contributed by Felix Knoke
Related Sites +
Official Webpage (Mac)
The official product page for the Mac version of <em>XIII</em> on the publisher's website, which provides trailers, an overview of characters and weapons within the game itself, desktop wallpapers, a demo, and purchasing information, among other such particulars.
Official comic book site
UBI Soft XIII site
UBI Soft website for XIII
XIII - le site non-officiel
Unofficial XIII comic book site
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Sciere.
Game added December 8th, 2003. Last modified August 26th, 2023.