It’s no surprise that “XIII” was not as well
received as UbiSoft had hoped. The graphics are flawed and the
gameplay feels like a next-generation spawn of Nintendo 64’s
“Goldeneye.”

Kate Green
Courtesy of UbiSoft
Get outta my office!

But an over-hyped game doesn’t have to be “Game of
the Year” to serve up a fistful of trigger-happy,
first-person action. “XIII” is still an enticing
videogame, despite its lack of technical achievements, simply
because of the thrilling experience that it provides.

Based on a Belgian graphic novel of the same name, the
cel-shaded world delivers an action packed experience much like
that of the original material. Though the backgrounds are grainy
and the trace lines on the characters occasionally clip, the style
feels good, especially when a thick red “AAH!” appears
above a defeated foe.

“XIII” is at its best when the pace becomes frantic.
The first few scenes play out just that way: Wash up on a beach,
declare amnesia, get rescued by a cute blonde lifeguard. Enemies
come out firing, lifeguard dies. Grab a conveniently placed gun
from your office, leave and run frantically down the boardwalk with
helicopters and grunts in tow.

Of course, it is possible to hang about in the office with only
one grunt coming in to attack you. Yes, the game has quite a few
slow moments like these, but when the pace slackens, the plot keeps
things fresh. Though the characters are drab (despite celebrity
voice acting by Adam West, Eve and David Duchovny as number XIII)
and the story feels distant, it’s fun to see how the
conspiracy unravels. The ability to view collected documents as
well as dossiers of the 20 conspirators involved is a nice
touch.

The sound and music also boost the experience. When one is
unloading every clip in his arsenal at the unrelenting enemy, there
had better be some meaty sound effects, and “XIII”
delivers. With the addition of a jazzy spy-fusion soundtrack,
players may find themselves craving a shaken-not-stirred martini
before long.

“XIII” may not be the best game of the year, but
when everything works together to create something that is so much
fun, it certainly is a game worth playing.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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