Summary: With the news yesterday that XIII had gone gold, today we bring you our quick look preview at one of the most unique looking first-person shooters we’ve ever seen. We play both the PC and console versions, so everyone is welcome to join in on the fun. We’ve also loaded this one up with nearly 100 (or “C” in Roman numerals) high-res, anti-aliased screenshots, so be sure to check it out!
Graphic novel roots
For those not in the know, XIII is based off the European comic book of the same name. The story is that you’re a badass special forces operative that has lost his memory. Naturally, you’ve been framed for the murder of the President and you’re on the run. When you start in the game, you’re relatively unskilled; but as the game progresses and you regain fragments of your memory, you slowly regain your abilities. For example, one skill you start with is your sixth-sense hearing, allowing you to ‘see footsteps’ as your assailants approach. See footsteps? Yes, on-screen sound effects captions (such as Tap Tap Tap) appear just as they would in a comic book, showing the location and direction of movement of characters beyond solid object. Basically, it acts as a radar.
Other special skills that you’ll be able to regain are as follows:
Pop up panels
Other comic book influences are seen during action-activated events. At certain points, comic panels will pop up, highlighting a happening (think of the Hulk movie). Headshots in the game are emphasized with a few gruesome panels of close-up. Big block letters of BAOOOM accompany explosions just for good measure.
XIII on IV platforms
XIII is a true multiplatform game with its released planned for GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC. All versions of the game will feature multiplayer with 12 maps out of the box. Each console version will have its own exclusive multiplayer mode. The PS2 version will get Power Up, which includes unique pick-ups such invincibility and invisibility. Xbox will get Sabotage, where two teams compete to take control of different strategic points in the map. Though unconfirmed, last we heard GameCube will get Capture the Chicken. The bonus for the PC is a bundled map editor.
Ubisoft is granting online multiplayer on any system up for the task, which means everyone except Nintendo’s console. While the GameCube has the network adapter, it’s proven itself mostly useless outside of Phantasy Star Online and some other ‘hobbyist’ activities. So, even though the PS2, Xbox, and PC versions will be on the ‘net, it’s unfortunate that they’ll all be speaking different dialects. How cool would it be to hop on your favorite server and be fragging with players on different consoles? (Though, I suspect the keyboard and mousers would have a huge, unfair advantage.) GameCube gamers and those who wish to play with friends offline have the option of doing it with split screen.
SIDEBAR: The first 300,000 units of XIII for Xbox will ship with a two-months free Xbox Live account.
Aside from its ability to banish jaggies, the PC is likely to be the platform of choice for XIII simply because of the keyboard and mouse. As a first-person shooter, there’s no better way to play XIII.
Holy voice actors, Batman!
Several big name voice actors are tied to this title: David Duchovny as XIII, Eve as Major Jones, and Adam West as General Carrington. Eve fits right in as Major Jones, but early on we found it a little difficult to separate our mental images of XIII from Agent Mulder and General Carrington from Batman. During late summer, Ubisoft announced its partnership with San Francisco-based label Future Primitive Sound to record exclusive tracks to enhance the 70s vibe of XIII.
We’re only part way through XIII, and we’ve been told that playing time is expected to run about 12-17 hours, depending on difficulty. From our time spent with XIII so far, we can say that it is delivering a truly intriguing story with very stylish visuals. It’s amazing what Ubisoft is able to do with the Unreal engine – first Splinter Cell’s lighting effects, and now XIII’s playable comic book.
PlayStation 2 and PC versions will be shipping to stores on November 18, with the GameCube and Xbox versions shipping on November 24. We’ll have more on XIII soon, but until then, feast your eyes on the screenshots in the galleries ahead – many of which never-before-seen! (If you flip through them fast enough, you can almost make sense of what’s going on.)
SIDEBAR: Speaking of Batman, Ubisoft recently released a Batman beat ‘em up game based on the cartoon and features a character design by legendary comic artist Jim Lee.
SIDEBAR: Some of the in-game text is French, but that will all be changed in the final USA version.
SIDEBAR: I took French all the way from elementary school through high school. Finally, it’s become of some use.
SIDEBAR: Though I have exercised some of my French skills while watching Luc Besson’s films, such as Taxi and La Femme Nikita.
SIDEBAR: Coors Light asks:
Have you French kissed a French woman?
SIDEBAR: As far as American comics go, it doesn’t get much better for me than Sin City.
Congratulations, you’ve made it all the way to the very end! You can proudly boast to your fellow readers about how mighty your screenshot viewing capabilities are… and maybe discuss XIII for a bit too while you’re at it.
SIDEBAR: Headshots always seem to be crowd pleasers.
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