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First-Person Shooter
Ubisoft Paris
November 7, 2003


Love it or hate it cel-shading is not going away. Fortunately, over time cel-shading has become more than a gimmicky way to make a game look "cool." Instead the animated style is now used to enhance story lines and give players the ability to play a real cartoon. Just look at The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker to see how cel-shading, when used in the right way, can lead to a slick, mature, and original experience.

XIII from Ubisoft continues this positive trend, using the cel-shading technique to accurately translate a graphic novel into a video game. XIII combines a reputedly involving, complex story and the fast action of a first-person shooter all drawn in a style that fits its comic root. Read on to find out exactly what Ubi Soft has in store to make sure that XIII isn’t just another Goldeneye 007 or Halo clone.



XIII, the first first-person shooter to use the cel-shading graphic style; first and foremost, this is what you will notice about the game. Graphically it goes way beyond a gimmick and uses each inch of visuals to remind you that XIII does come from a comic book. Kill an enemy and “Noooo!” or “Bam!” will appear as text on screen. Even sound effects like foot steps are given comic book like text to show you the noise. While this might seem over the top it isn’t emphasized to the point that it distracts you from the game. As a whole these effects nuance the game giving it an original look and feel. All of these details should highlight the story, which is reputedly extremely immersive.

The gameplay for XIII will likely resemble any other FPS shooter you have played in your life. There are a total of 37 missions spread across eight different levels in the one player mode along with a multiplayer deathmatch mode. The game features 15 major weapons and 15 secondary items that can be used as weapons. All of the weapons include a primary and secondary use, much like the weapons in Perfect Dark. The secondary items open the game up considerably. Imagine being able to pick up a shard of glass and slash your enemy or launch it into their throat, or using that chair in the corner to make a silent kill. Enemy artificial intelligence is more realistic than you might expect from the graphical presentation. As some of the video on the XIII website show, the reactions by the enemy to your weapons choice or movements is realistic. Throwing a grenade leads to people leaping out of the way and gets a bigger reaction than if you charge at an enemy with a shovel. Overall, while XIII might not breakdown the doors with its original features, there is enough here to ensure a well-rounded and novel experience.

word on the street

A month before its release, XIII had already generated a sizable amount of buzz. The combination of real actors, shiny attire, and a highly modified Unreal II engine all add up to a drool worthy game.

press release notes

The leader of the free world has been assassinated and you are the prime suspect.

You wake up on a desolate strip of a New England beach. The near-fatal impact of a bullet has left your head pounding and your memory erased. What's more, the number "XIII" has been mysteriously tattooed on your chest, while your pocket holds a key to a New York City bank box. Head swimming in amnesia, you struggle to your feet only to encounter more assailants intent on finishing the job. To your shock, you handle the hitmen with the killing skills of a professional - before heading to the bank in search of any shred of information about your lost identity and your involvement in the President's murder.

What lies ahead is a deadly quest not only into your shadowy past, but also into America's darkest corridors of power.

  • The Ultimate Conspiracy: Unravel a whirling conspiracy plot where your identity, the President's assassination, and the future of America are shrouded in mystery.
  • So Much Style It's Criminal: Graphic novel presentation, flashback graphics, and pop-up windows create a groundbreaking entry into the genre. XIII marshals the power of Unreal II technology and unique comic book visual styles.
  • Groundbreaking Gameplay: Experience a wide variety of gameplay - cunning use of human shields, silent weapons, and XIII's internal "sixth sense" that detects approaching enemies. To survive, you'll master techniques ranging from covert infiltration to heavy combat as you battle sinister conspiratorial forces.
  • A Deadly Arsenal of Weapons: Handle a dizzying array of weapons ranging from silent crossbows to precision sniper rifles, furious automatic weapons, chairs, bottles, ashtrays, shovels, and even enemy soldiers' bodies.
  • A New Kind of Multiplayer: Square off against other players in innovative multiplayer action with up to 4-player split-screen in Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Hunt modes.


This game seems to be the real deal. The combination of nicely adapted features from classic first-person shooters, new features, and the story line bode very well for the game. Although, as always, the GameCube version of the game is the only one without online support, there ought to be plenty here to keep you and your friends busy for months. Assuming you can get beyond the “kiddie” cel-shaded graphics, XIII is a game to watch.

For me this game was difficult to preview. XIII looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun. In fact I expect it will quickly become the game I pull out when my friends come over. This, however, doesn’t mean the game has a lot of features that can’t be found in other first-person shooters. What excites me, though, is the fact that it seems to be pulling together the best features from the best FPS’s over the last five years. Coupled with the intriguing storyline and tasty graphics, XIII is a game I can’t wait to pop into my GameCube.

Staff Avatar Mark Martinez
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"Unless you're being ironic, turn that off."

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