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XIII Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . XIII is far from the best first person shooter on the PlayStation 2, but it does offer a compelling story and a unique cast of characters. Throw in an online component and it's almost worth recommending. Rating: 64%
  • Review Score:

  • B-
These days it seems like everybody has an opinion about cel-shaded graphics. Some see it as a way of playing a game that looks exactly like a cartoon, yet others protest that it's simplistic look lacks detail and is overused. XIII probably won't change anybody's opinion, but it does offer anybody willing to look past a few imperfections an intriguing mystery.

We start the adventure knowing about as much as the hero of the piece, who, thanks to a tattoo he woke up with, is referred to as XIII (or "thirteen" for the roman numeral challenged). The game starts with XIII coming to after washing up on a beach suffering a gunshot wound and not remembering how he got there. In fact, the game's entire mystery revolves around the fact that this character just doesn't know who he is, and worse yet, may have been the gunman in the assassination of the President.

We're also introduced to Major Jones, a mysterious woman played by rapper Eve. It's through her dialog (and the strategic use of flashback sequences) that we learn the most about XIII's missing time, but then, like everything else in the game, she may not be who she claims to be. Together you retrace your steps and investigate the various clues that have been left, all while killing an entire army of people before they get you.

As you'd expect XIII comes with a rather large arsenal of weapons, ranging from throwing knives to bazookas. There are a few choice items in the war chest, including a crossbow and harpoon launcher, but for the most part the weapon selection is your generic first person shooter fare. Each of the guns are nicely drawn, but fail to have that certain punch you expect from a game like this.

XIII is split into a collection of 13 chapters, each with their own mission and locale. Some of the objectives require a certain amount of stealth, involving you to only use throwing knives, chairs, and other quiet weapons. Other levels are more along the lines of kill or be killed, allowing you to be less frugal with your assortment of firearms. Yet other levels require to you investigate for clues to your missing time and even take the occasional hostage to help you escape.

The locations themselves are all fairly interesting, ranging from the boat docks at dusk to a number of military bases. Your investigation will take you to the majestic beauty that is the Grand Canyon valley, to claustrophobic closeness of a submarine, to a whole lot of indoor corridors. Each of these environments offer different things to see and challenges, but towards the end it starts to feel like you're just retracing your steps.

Although XIII features a fully realized story, it doesn't seem to get in the way of the games action. Most of the plot points are introduced during intermissions, rather than tying it into the game play. There are moments where you hear guards talking just out of range of your visual, but most of the important information is given out as a reward for completing your tasks. It would have been nice to see this mix be a little more seamless, perhaps more along the lines of how the original Half-Life or Halo implemented the story.
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