XIII is a first-person shooter video game, loosely based on the first five volumes of the 1984 Belgian graphic novel series of the same name. Developed and published by Ubisoft, it was released in November 2003 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, and GameCube; an Xbox version of the game, released at the same time, was developed by Southend Interactive, while an OS X version was developed by Zonic, published by Feral Interactive, and released the following year in June 2004.
Designed with a comic book-style, cel-shaded presentation, the game incorporates single-player and multiplayer game modes. The game’s main story focuses on a confused and amnesic man who searches for his identity after being found stranded on a beach. He slowly finds himself caught up in a conspiracy by a group who aims to overthrow the government. The protagonist being the one who had assassinated the President of the United States, and is wanted by the FBI.
XIII received mixed reviews and sold poorly upon release, suspending plans for a sequel, but gathered a cult following. It also received a follow-up game for mobile phones entitled XIII²: Covert Identity, and a re-imagining of the game as a point-and-click adventure entitled XIII: Lost Identity in October 2011. A remake of the original game, for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, was released on November 10, 2020.
XIII is a first-person shooter with elements of stealth and action in certain missions. The game centers on the main character, named XIII, who has awakened with amnesia. He uses a variety of weapons and gadgets to uncover the mystery of his identity throughout the 13 chapters and 34 missions. The characters and weaponry in XIII are cel-shaded, giving a deliberately comic book style appearance, including onomatopoeic words contained in bubbles for sound effects. It uses Unreal Engine 2 because it was “really strong for level design” and allowed development “across all platforms using one engine”. The graphics were compared with Jet Set Radio Future and Auto Modellista. The developer felt that the appearance reflected the comic book and innovated in its portrayal of violence; blood splatters are shown in a cartoon manner.
XIII includes 16 weapons, from a knife to a bazooka, an Uzi to an M60. Objects such as bottles, chairs, or brooms may be used as weapons. Kevlar gear, helmets and first aid boxes are scattered throughout the map. People can be taken as hostages or as human shields, preventing enemies from firing on the protagonist. Lock picks are used to unlock doors and grapnels to climb on walls. Through the “sixth sense”, XIII can hear enemies behind walls with the aid of “tap-tap-tap” signals. Stealth operations include strangling enemies or hiding dead bodies. Comic strip-style insets pop up at the top when a headshot is performed or serve as clues or tips for the player.
The multiplayer hosts a maximum of 16 players. The game features three standard game modes along with modes exclusive to each system: Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Sabotage (on Xbox and PC), The Hunt (on PC, PS2 and GameCube), and Power-Up (on PC and PS2). Depending on the platform, players in online and offline modes (against bots) range from 4 to 16. The GameCube version does not have any online modes, while the PC version excludes the multi-screen modes but includes a map editor. There are 13 maps on Deathmatch plus one additional on Team Deathmatch, while 5 on Capture the Flag and 3 on Sabotage. The player can choose from among 10 different character appearances.
In Deathmatch, all players compete against each other and the strongest player wins. Team Deathmatch is similar, but players form two teams. In Capture the Flag, a player must retrieve the flag from their enemy’s base, and bring it to their own team’s base. In Sabotage, one team must place a bomb in three different locations, while the opposite team must protect these areas; the protectors win if the time limit is exceeded (except if the time is set to infinite). The bomb is always found at the beginning of the team base, and the player who holds the bomb must wait 12 seconds until they may drop it and take shelter from the ensuing detonation. In The Hunt, players must shoot ghosts, which become gradually smaller after receiving hits. The player only has one weapon, the hunting gun, with which they can shoot human opponents. Power Up is a deathmatch game, in which boxes containing special, temporary abilities, such as invisibility and higher speed, are found throughout the map.
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