XIII is a very interesting game… It’s known for its graphical style over its gameplay for many people who haven’t played it, due to the comic-book style cell-shaded graphics. Yet it has a devout following of people who have played it and loved it.
My history with XIII is pretty short and sweet; I’d played it once or twice for short stints back when it was new, but that was really all the experience I had with the game. However, I did appreciate it at the time.
Because of that, I was really excited when it got picked for the Retro Showcase Stream. So, whilst I am a week late with this due to personal reasons, let’s see what I thought of XIII!
Going into the game, I was pretty much blind. After all, it had been a good number of years since I had last played XIII and, even then, it was for a very short amount of time. So, when we were greeted with a true comic book style intro, I found myself smiling instantly.
The developers went in deep with the aesthetic, which really made it work so well. Doing a comic book style design for games can be hit or miss depending on how much you commit to it. For example, games like Max Payne and Comix Zone pull it off brilliantly, but there are games out there that just can’t. They become forgettable, which is my excuse for why I can’t think of their names at the moment.
From there, we were put into the first level. It starts off with a short sequence to teach you how to move before then turning a whole host of enemies loose on you. Instantly, you are put into combat and have to learn what you are doing. Thankfully, the controls are pretty simple to pick up. So, that leads us nicely into the Gameplay of XIII.
As stated previously, XIII is a shooter; specifically, it is a First-Person Shooter. You have a series of levels (or stages, if you prefer) that you have to navigate through, killing enemies. However, unlike the majority of FPS games out there, XIII adds a few other gameplay elements.
The most obvious and most common to the genre is the idea of stealth. There are sections where you need to sneak around and perform attacks without being seen in order to progress safely. This, from the amount of the game we got to play, is a necessity for certain parts of levels. If you mess it up, you’re going to take a lot of damage and won’t be able to get through the rest of the level without significant difficulty.
Whilst I do enjoy stealth mechanics in a lot of games, for XIII, I have to admit it felt forced.
This is further compounded by levels where you’re not allowed to kill certain types of enemies. For example, in the bank level, if you kill one of the security guards, it’s a Mission Failed.
This does make the game a lot more difficult that you would actually expect… Especially after the first level is just so easy that you can pretty much run through it. Then, the clip above is from the very next level. So, it is safe to say that the difficulty spike of the game hits you pretty much immediately.
You are also quickly introduced to the “hostage” mechanic, where you are supposed to be able to take a person hostage to stop police and security officers from shooting you. The game says that, as long as you hold the hostage between you and the enemy, they won’t shoot. However, it’s not as simple as that.
As you can see, the enemies move around the hostage very quickly. In a one on one situation, you can probably deal with it if you have faster reflexes than me. However, the issues with this system come into play the very first time you have to use it.
Basically, there are 3 enemies straight away. This is the problem. The enemies won’t shoot you if you are pointing the hostage at them, but because there are 3 of them and they are spread out, it is impossible to point the hostage at all of them. On top of this, you have to be pointing the hostage at them with near pixel-perfect accuracy. If you are slightly turned to the side, they will start to shoot.
So, whilst it is an interesting mechanic that changes the game up a bit from a standard FPS, it could have done with some more fine-tuning.
All that said, you’re probably thinking that I really didn’t like XIII, but you’d be wrong. It was frustrating to keep having to redo the hostage scene over and over, but aside from that, the game was a lot of fun! Therefore, I think it is time we move onto the Entertainment aspect of XIII.
As stated, XIII is not an easy game. However, it’s not Dark Souls or Aladdin levels of difficulty, so it doesn’t actually make you rage. Instead, you just end up laughing at your own silly mistakes. The gameplay is pretty simple so you can figure out what you are doing wrong very quickly, meaning that you won’t get stuck for very long.
On top of this, the controls work very well, allowing you to move around at speed and aim with good accuracy. The feeling of being a “badass” is out in full with XIII. The gunplay is quick and frantic, but then, you also get to pick up chairs and other items to knock enemies out as well. Let me tell you, sneaking up behind a guard and smashing a chair over their head is worryingly fun…
Overall, despite the issues with game mechanics, XIII is a very fun game that I would highly recommend to anyone… And I’m not even a fan of the First-Person Shooter genre!
And That’s All Folks
I went into XIII expecting to have a lot of fun, and that’s exactly what I got. The aesthetics of the game really pop, sticking in your mind long after you’ve turned the game off. On top of that, the mix of play styles is thoroughly enjoyable, even if the stealth sections feel forced.
There is also couch multiplayer in XIII, but I haven’t tried that yet so I can’t comment on it. That said, IcelandicEmilia on Twitch has said that the multiplayer is a lot of fun as well! So I would say that’s another point to XIII.
Have you played XIII? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below!