Since we have been on a spree of playing modern titles, I thought it’s time to visit some games I missed over the decades gone by. I settled on playing the original XIII as I had heard it’s the best version to play, and Good Old Games (GOG) recently gave it away for free. I had no reason not to, especially with it being free! Safe to say I wasn’t disappointed with this. It is over very quickly, but it is fun nonetheless. My completion time was 5 hours and 51 minutes according to GOG timer. The question remains: is this old game good?
The answer is, yes! The graphics have aged well too and are still very nice to this day, which is due to the cell shaded style they have gone for. The game plays with a comic theme throughout which is another aspect I quite enjoyed. It’s worth noting that this was originally released in 2003, so I’d even say slightly ahead of its time. Most importantly, the game has a good story so it does keep you interested. You start the game with a gun shot wound and have been saved by a life guard, and all you recall is being shot on a boat attempting to escape, then managing to reach a beach – suffering from amnesia too. You then discover you have a bank deposit key and you’re known as XIII. I suspect you see where this is going already? This plays out like a spy film with Governments fighting within each other. Oh and you apparently killed the President! This game has plenty of twists and turns throughout so it keeps you gripped wanting to know how it all ends. The kicker then comes with the cliff-hanger, as the game doesn’t have a concrete ending! I didn’t know this prior to playing it, so I was disappointed to say the least, but it doesn’t change the fact that the story up to the ending kept me going and I had fun playing it.
As this is an older game, I can say the game play holds up well too. The game mixes missions up with some stealth, along with your usual action missions, and sometimes a mission will mix the two. This could be not alerting enemies or take them down quietly with the latter part letting you go on a killing spree if you wish. I’m not a fan of stealth games in general, or when a game seems to force them on you when it makes little sense. In XIII, I don’t feel it did that at any stage so I didn’t mind it at all. The game has what we would refer to now as set pieces, as well as some helicopter fights and under water fights with some harpoons too! As an older title, it certainly knew how to mix it up. This kept the game moving quick as nothing felt repetitive. As mentioned before, it’s a short game, but due to how it played out, I really didn’t feel like I even played 5 hours. Due to the fun I had, it felt it ended much sooner. This could be due to how short some missions are, as there are 34 in total and some last as little as 10-20 minutes. We also have a varied selection of weapon; anything from throwing knives to a bazooka. My favourite was the AR Rifle with the combined grenade launcher and the crossbow. The game lets you use them as you see fit. In some missions, you may not have access to all of them, but you still have more than enough for it not to cause a problem. Ammo is also plentiful so you can stay with your preferred option if you wish. XIII also features gadgets, such as lockpicks and a grapple hook to lower your self or bring yourself up to a higher spot. This did add one very brief platform part, but it’s mostly just used to go up and down a set point or lowering yourself into another room – similar to a spy film!
Another element of XIII that holds up well is the audio. The brief songs you get really suit the overall theme of the game and the voice work on the characters are also very well done. There is some fantastic dialogue which is voiced during a mission in an asylum which didn’t feel like an after thought. It also added some more humour to it by leaning on the comic design it’s gone for. Overall, I’d certainly recommended this is played. Due to its age, any modern PC will be able to play it with ease. I played it with no issues and no tweaking needed. It got a mixed reception back in 2003 and I feel that will mostly have been due to the ending, as it’s certainly a fun game with a unique style. The cell-shaded graphics with the comic theme come together brilliantly.
XIII (2003) is available now on PC for the very low price of £5 (or free if you time it right).