You'd be hard-pressed to find a more visually stunning game than XIII, a gorgeous first-person shooter in which you play an amnesiac...who may or may not have assassinated the President. This stylish action title mixes an animated film aesthetic with presentation reminiscent of smart, '60s movie thrillers. And its comic-book look is functional, too. For instance, when patrolling guards approach around a corner, you'll see the "tap-tap-tap" of their footsteps on screen. And if a soldier finds the body of a fallen guard, a cartoon cell of the scene will appear, alerting you of the discovery. If only the developers had spent half as much time fine-tuning the enemy A.I. as they did finessing the graphics, XIII would be incredible. It's been said that it's easy to develop foes whose bullets always hit you and hard to create those that realistically miss. You'll definitely have that in mind while playing XIII, because it's populated with soldiers who are complete dead-eye dicks. You get your ass shot off so often in XIII, you'll nearly spend more time reloading your last save than playing. It's ridiculous. Numerous frustrations pile up to make XIII more chore than thrill. You begin most levels with the same amount of health you had from the last, it lacks a save function or working auto-aim feature, and the missions feel like watered-down versions of those in GoldenEye 007 (Nintendo 64). Even co-op and online (for PS2 and Xbox) play can't save a shooter that has such unappealing fire-fights. Take me in. I give up.
Arriving with more style than the majority of today's games, XIII has a fresh presentation that drops you smack-dab into a living, breathing comic book. But style can only take you so far, and it can't stop superhuman A.I. from tainting this first-person shooter. Its baddies are ridiculous crack-shots, and no amount of skill can prevent you from suffering countless cheap deaths. Design hiccups also complicate matters--many levels have poorly placed checkpoints (or none at all), and the insufficient supply of health packs consistently puts you at a distinct disadvantage. What starts as a hiplooking shooter with a gripping story and varied missions ends in furious, fitful frustration. Keep this unlucky number in mind only when renting.
I was certainly looking forward to this game, if only to see something different being done with a first-person shooter. And XIII definitely has that going for it; its comic-book-themed storytelling integrates nicely into the game. But while the style, cut-scenes, and story are all great, the actual gameplay is pretty mundane. The action is old hat for any shooter veteran, as are most of the missions objectives, including the requisite escort and key-gathering excursions. And once the graphical luster wears off, the whole thing actually looks pretty simplistic. But if all you need is a solid shooter fix, XIII will do just fine. It has no fatal flaws, and the conspiracy-laced story should keep you going.
You wake up with no memory. You have "XIII" tattooed on you. You might have assassinated the president. Armed men are trying to kill you. Welcome to the worst hangover of all time.
HOW WAS IT?
This first-person shooter has style. Comics-inspired effects highlight important objects, showcase head-shots, and reveal hidden enemies. And its groovy funk soundtrack had me tappin' my toes while I was cappin' foes. Get down!
Need a little help defeating Xlll's tougher antagonists? We have some snazzy, surefire strategies that ought to do the trick. Check out these tips for taking down this stylish shooter's last three bosses.
This boss is almost invulnerable. The only weapon that can damage it is the bazooka, so don't waste your time and ammo shooting it with anything else. The Chopper has two weapons, a highly efficient heavy machine gun and a deadly rocket launcher. Best to stay out of its line of fire, hmm? Yes. To win this fight, you have to alternate between hiding and firing. The easiest way to proceed is to set up shop behind a crate or container, preferably with some ammo and/or medkits within easy reach. Stay in your hiding place until the Chopper fires one of its rockets. Just after the danger is past, jump out and shoot that whirlybird with your bazooka, then immediately get back behind cover and reload (the bazooka holds only one round). Take a quick detour to grab health or ammunition if you need it. Stick to this pattern, and the Chopper shouldn't give you much trouble.
The Doctor is very fast. He basically has two types of attacks. At range, he throws knives and poison potions at you. If he gets close enough, he will try to stab you with a needle. If you get touched, his nefarious hallucinogenic drug will take effect, which will make your vision more...green. This drug also makes you drop your weapon. If that happens, just run and try to avoid being hurt until the drug effect stops. Then quickly retrieve your lost weapon and ammo.
To defeat the Doc, shoot at him from long range, and when he tries to get closer, just run backward, continuing to feed him bullets. Make sure you aren't blocked by something behind you as you run. To prevent this, try to stay on the same path, where you know what to expect (for example, the area around the table with the patient on it is relatively clear of obstructions). If you can keep Doctor J from getting too close while you attack him pretty much constantly, he won't hold out for long. Sweet victory.
The final boss! Let's be clear: He's very tough. You'll need a combination of preparation and smart tactics to compete with him.
Before confronting him, be sure to collect all the weapons you can at the beginning of the level. In particular, get as many medkits as possible. Mongoose has two miniguns, so he's pretty destructive at close range. Try to stay far from him and use your long-range weapons, like the assault rifle or the submachine gun. Each time you tag the Goose, he'll duck behind a missile for cover. If necessary, use this time to reload your weapon and heal yourself. The simplest way to deal with this boss is to shoot at the missiles near him, unleashing a toxic vapor. When this vapor touches him, Mongoose is paralyzed for a while--hit him with your best shot! Make sure you don't touch the toxic gasses yourself, or you'll be the one to suffer.
To help you in this fight, Major Jones will kill some henchmen upstairs, who will fall from the upper floor. You can search these bodies for additional ammo and medkits. Try to score a hit on Mongoose, then use the time when he's hiding to collect items.
He's definitely challenging, but if you employ these strategies, eventually you'll succeed. Hang in there, you crazy amnesiac gunslinger, you.