Review: XIII (XB)

I love Adam West. I think this is the first video game he’s ever been in to boot. And that was the sole reason I went to pick up this game. I generally don’t enjoy First Person Shooters, unless they are RAIL shooters. I find Cell Shading way overdone and it’s never been something that really impressed me to begin with. But Adam West? I’m such a sucker for him that he was enough to make me willingly try a game that already had two strikes against it in my book of “Anal Retentive Asshole Gamer Guide.’

And amazingly, Ubi Soft shilled out some big cha-ching for the voice actors in this game. Besides Adam West, we have David Duchovny from “X-Files’ fame. The singer Eve does a voice (although as my music tastes are decidedly not anywhere close to what she sings, I can be excused for not knowing who the hell she is), and Ubi Soft being Ubi Soft, there’s a bunch of French actors as well.

BTW, a voice actor I haven’t heard from in a while is in this game too. His name is David Gasman and he played Jonathan Harker in Dreamcatcher’s Dracula games. I loved those games and the cast here, so it was nice to see him as Willard.

So I sat down to play a game for review purposes SHEERLY because Adam West was in it. In Adam West voiced a Final Fantasy game, I’d probably buy it. If Adam West voiced a Tomb Raider game, I’d probably buy it. I have an autographed copy of his autobiography. Needless to say, I really like Adam West.

And the game was free. That helped as well…

Let’s Review

1. Story

You play as agent XIII, aka Steve Rowland to some people, Jason Fly to others. You wake up on a beach where a blonde Baywatch bimbo finds you. And of course you have amnesia. You don’t know anything, but like all good cliche memory loss movies/tv shows/video games, it returns in dramatic fashion as you get further into the game.

The game plays out in thirty+ missions with a comic book feel. In fact, the game even begins as if occurring within a comic book, showing scenes in panels.

As Agent XIII, your job is to regain your memories, solve a conspiracy, and find out who killed one William Sheridan, who just happens to be the President of the United States.

Although the game uses a LOT of cliches found in so many other “amnesia victim’ type plots, XIII does manage to throw a few original twists into the plot. It’s nothing truly mind blowing or amazing, and I personally find the plot stretched pretty thin in order to make room for the missions. But for an FPS, which are generally plot lite, it’s not too shabby.

Story Rating: 6/10

2. Graphics

I’m just not a fan of the way people look in this game. Not just because it’s cell shading. But because I find it to be BAD cell shading. The characters don’t look like cartoons. Nor do they look realistic. They look like Mannequins in pastel colours. They just didn’t sit well with me. It was as if they tried to use Cell Shading but to make it look more “real.’ This of course is exactly THE OPPOSITE REASON for why a game should have cell shading. If you don’t want to look like a cartoon, don’t go for the effect.

That being said, even with poorly designed human characters, the game has vivid backgrounds. It’s odd how I can enjoy one aspect of the graphics in one way, but despise them in another. Still, when the game takes place outside, whether it be on the beach, or in a forest type setting. I’m quite happy with what I see on my screen.

The comic book aspect comes off pretty well to boot. Sorry, I have to remember Ubi Soft wants it referred to as GRAPHIC NOVEL STYLE PRESENTATION. I love the little pop-up windows and the fact it tries to be a comic book on your TV. Although it doesn’t come off as well as I’m sure the producers (and myself) wanted, it’s still an adequate job and helps to make the game more interested. After all, when a new visual pops up on your screen it catches your attention, especially if you are one of those people who, like myself, focuses rather intently on the game you are playing. Snaps you back into reality and all that rot.

Graphics Rating: 7/10

3. Sound

You know what is really sad? I hated the voice acting in this. I was happy to see a name brand cast. But EVERYONE sounds like they are phoning it in. Mr. Fox Mulder especially. Even my beloved Adam West was pretty crappy on the stick in XIII, something that helped to ruin my enjoyment of the game. There wasn’t a bit of voice acting that actually sounded like there was anything close to emotion in it. I’ve never heard monotone yelling before until this game.

The sound effects? Meh. Nothing to get worked up over. When you hear one gun shoot, it’s a gun. After countless FPS games, how can one really begin to notice the difference between the shots. Nope, XIII is pretty much your standard fare in this department.

The same holds true for music. Nothing mind blowing or lasting. Five minutes after the game is shut off, you will completely forget the music (Such as there is). I am currently writing the review while having the game on so that I could remember what the music sounded like. It is that forgettable.

In the one area XIII should have blown people away, it fails miserably. I am very disappointed in the voice actors who just didn’t seem to give a crap about XIII.

Sound Rating: 4/10

4. Controls

There’s a lot of interesting things in this game. We have the standard stealth stuff we have started to see become not just a part of the FPS genre, but of games like MGS and Splinter Cell as well. And in truth, I’m getting sick of this too. It’s overused and I’m finding a lot of the games blurring together without originality.

The FPS aiming is the usual that you find in any of a dozen carbon copy games like this. I do enjoy unusual weapons such as chairs and slates and shovels though.

I don’t enjoy how one heals themselves in this game. It could just be the Xbox controls, but I find healing oneself to be bulky and tedious.

I guess I’m at a loss really how to describe the controls. If you’ve played one FPS, you’ve played XIII. As will be a running theme through this review, XIII hasn’t really done anything to attract any real attention to it in terms of the actual gameplay. Yes it is cell shaded. But big deal. Yes some big name actors are in the cast. But they to a terrible job. And the same holds true for the controls. They’re okay. Nothing to write home about. They’re not super sensitive, but neither are they very accurate. Collision detection can be a problem. And with hand to hand combat against someone with a gun…this is not a good thing.

There are some game freezing glitches in the game that I have discovered are not unique to my own copy of XIII and/or XboX. And trust me, none of those were fun to come across.

Middle of the road fare. Just another game put out without any real innovation in regards to play control.

Control Rating: 5/10

5. Replayability

Multiplayer and Online mode is where this game shines. Again, nothing truly special about it and Halo blows it away. But it’s got the power of Xbox Live and if you’re an FPS fan, this is one of the better games out there to pay against other people. Although story mode is pretty vanilla and there’s no point in playing it more than once EVER, you can have a lot of fun with a bunch of friends either coming over to play, or across the net.

Replayability Rating: 6/10

6. Balance

The game’s got a decent learning curve. In the first few missions it teaches you do to things. But at the same time, the mission objectives are vague, and you don’t know what way to necessarily go. There are also times where in early missions, you have things like ladders or places that you like you can go, but are off reach/controls don’t respond to interacting with them, while later in the game you can, and you find yourself assuming they are just background glitz.

The game never gets frustrating in terms of challenge. Just when the glitches occur.

Balance Rating: 6/10

7. Originality

XIII’s only originality was bringing Adam West to a video game for the first time ever. And as I can’t be 100% sure about that, I can’t even allow the game that claim.

It’s yet another cell shaded game. Bleck. It’s yet another FPS. Yuck. It’s another game with a lot of stealth. Ho-hum.

Even the plot is a dime a dozen. Nope, XIII is just yet another game that will inevitably lost in the shuffle due to it being so bland. The game’s best feature, multiplayer online play has nothing that sets it apart from any other game that would compete for consumer dollars. Sorry XIII.

Originality Rating: 3/10

8. Addictiveness

None whatsoever. I played this game through only because it was my responsibility to. I didn’t hate the game. But it elicited no passion or enjoyment from me whatsoever. It was time spent that I could have been doing something else.

Online play/multiplayer play is the most fun I had playing the game. But there are so many other games I absolutely prefer to play with my friends. Again, it was a time waster, not an enjoyable experience.

Addictiveness Rating: 4/10

9. Appeal Factor

With online play, multiplayer play, cell shading, and FPS gameplay, XIII will catch the eye of the casual gamer. These are all aspects of gaming that are trendy and cliche currently, and to have them all in one will at least get a gamer to pick up the box and consider a purchase. But of course, Ubi Soft is hoping people will want just another same old everyday rehash of what is popular at the moment, instead of something truly mind blowing. And sadly, I think they’re right.

Appeal Factor: 7/10

10. Miscellaneous

With lots of options in gameplay, things to unlock, hidden documents to find, and the ability to use XboX live, XIII has a lot of extras built into it. These little touches help to make the game feel fleshed out and also help justify someone actually buying this game. To they make up for the rather uninspired main game? No. But if you play most of your games online or in gatherings with friends, you just might find buying XIII new worth your time and money.

Miscellaneous Rating: 6/10