I always try to play a game before reading any reviews for it. Some reviews can send you into a game with an already biased opinion, almost looking for the flaw. Last night, I popped XIII, a game based on the french comic series of the same name, in to my GameCube for the first time. I am a huge fan of openers with long sequences and music and showing off the baddest of the bad moves. XIII’s can leave a little to be desired but still shows some excellent features of the game like comic book style pop ups and some very gratifying and intense cel shading which is used to make the characters look cartoonish. (The first game to use cel shading was Sega’s critically acclaimed Jet Grind Radio for the Dreamcast.) Cel shading in XIII causes you to feel like you are in a comic book.
Cel shading starts off with typical 3D graphic technology, but when all cel-shaded objects (3D models) are drawn onscreen, only a few shades of each color are used, making everything look flatter and more vivid. This is of course different than merely texturing each object with a few shades of each colour, as realtime lighting effects the environment much differently.
XIII throws you into the game without a weapon, hunted by two men. You have no memory of how you got where you are, why they’re after you or who you are. I had to go through the first half of the opening level 6 times before I found a good way to do it without leaving the lifeguard house near death. I grabbed a knife, looked through the door where one of the guys was standing with his back towards me. I aimed the knife right at his neck and dropped him. A comic book-like, “Arrgghh” shot on to the screen and then a pop up of comic panels replaying the death appeared in the right hand corner showing the knife sink into his neck. Beautiful!
Control in the game is pretty simple once you figure out what each button does. I, personally, like having a “training” of some sort on the control and what each button’s action is but there is none of that in XIII. I did have to look through the book to find out how to use my inventory. Nintendo manages to make some of the weirdest shaped controllers with odd button placement so control is not as “catch on” as it could be.
Reviews, reviews, reviews. XIII got some varying reviews. Some good, some bad. It received an average of 76% at GameTab, based on 12 reviews. GameSpy gave it 3 out of 5, or fair with this to say:
The single-player experience is enjoyable, if not revolutionary. And hell, maybe the graphical style really does it for you. By all means, give XIII a shot. Just don’t expect the FPS of the year because, sadly, this isn’t it.
This game has so many nuances that even reviewers discount their negatives and counteract their positives.
I haven’t played the game enough to say Yay or Nay. The first level was hell and the second level started out a little hellish as well. These are merely first impressions from me and my way of doing a little more research on the title.