XIII review by Al Giovetti


By Al Giovetti
Genre:Shooter ("First person action adventure")
Release:October 2003
Platform: PlayStation®2, XBOX™, NINTENDO GAMECUBE™, PC-CD
ESRB Rating: M – Mature
Developer: Ubi Soft France
Software Engineer:
Associate Software Engineer:
License Holder:
Lead Artist:
Senior Producer:
Associate Producer:
Product Manager:
Publisher: Ubi Soft Entertainment
General Manager:
Production Services:
Quality Assurance:
Creative Services:
Requirements:Computer: A 700 MHz Pentium III or equivalent processor is required. Operating System: XIII is supported on the following operating systems: Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows 2000, and Windows XP. Memory: The game requires 128 MB of RAM. Controls: A keyboard and mouse are required, Drives: 1,2 Gb of free space on hard disc are required to install and play the game, Video: A 3D accelerator video card with support for DirectX® 8.1 and at least 32 MB of video memory is required. Sound: A DirectX®-compatible 16-bit sound card is recommended. Multiplayer Connectivity: Access to UBI.com online gaming service, requires a low-latency, active Internet connection, rated at 56,6 Kbps or faster. Multiplayer games played over a LAN require an active connection to a TCP/IP network
Recommended:Computer: A 1,0 GHz processor or better is recommended. Memory: We recommend 256 MB of RAM, Video: A 3D accelerator video card with support for DirectX® 8.1 and at least 64 MB of video memory is recommended, Multiplayer Connectivity: We recommend the use of cable or ADSL connection with 512 Kb/s in reception and 128 kb/s in emission.
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Summary * History * Company Line * Game Play * Plot * Graphics * Animation * Voice Actors * Music Score * Sound Effects * Utilities * Multi-player Features * Cheats, Hints, and Walkthrough * Journalists * References * Letters



The gimic of this game is the comic book nature of the game. The comic book look of the game really works well. It is unique enough to keep your interest.

Other than the comic book style the game is a straight shooter.

Company Line

Background: The President of the United States of America has been assassinated.

You wake up on a desolate strip of 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 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, to furious automatic weapons, to chairs, bottles, ashtrays, shovels and even enemy soldiers' bodies.

A New Kind of Multiplayer. Square off against other players in innovative multiplayer modes such as the PS2 exclusive Power Up mode and Xbox exclusive Sabotage mode, along with classic modes such as Capture the Flag and Deathmatch. Gamers can also battle online with Sony Online, Xbox Live and the PC.

Ubi Soft® Entertainment, one of the world’s top game publishers, announced details behind the innovative multiplayer modes for XIII, the highly anticipated first-person shooter videogame. XIII will be the first online first-person shooter for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system. Additionally, XIII will be online for the Xbox™ video game system and the PC, and will feature four-way split-screen multiplayer on the Nintendo GameCube™. XIII is expected to ship in Fall 2003.

“A solid and innovative multiplayer experience is essential to any good shooter, which is why we brought XIII online for PlayStation 2, Xbox and the PC,” said Tony Kee, vice president of marketing for Ubi Soft Entertainment. “We wanted to make the multiplayer experience as fresh and original as the game itself.”

XIII will feature classic Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes. Here are the exclusive multiplayer modes for each console:

Premier Online First-Person Shooter Action for PlayStation 2 PlayStation 2 players benefit from five multiplayer modes including “The Hunt” and “Power Up” with up to four players online, in addition to the two-player split-screen offline. The exclusive PlayStation 2 multiplayer mode, Power Up, is a custom Deathmatch multiplayer mode, which includes various pick-ups – some classic pick-ups are replaced with funnier ones, such as “Frag Instant Death” (ability to kill opponent with one shot) or “SuperGnome” (character becomes deformed). Additionally, pick-ups are chosen according to the player’s score position. The best player will receive the worst pick-ups and vice versa.

In the Hunt, players chase a running target throughout the map. Points are scored depending on how much damage is afflicted each time the target is hit. The more times the target is hit, the smaller it becomes, so scoring becomes more difficult. Players gain extra points by killing the target, but touching the target results in death!

Only on Xbox Live Xbox gamers can dive into four-player split-screen offline multiplayer or enter into online battles with up to eight players. The exclusive Xbox Live mode is “Sabotage,” where two teams compete to take control of different strategic points in the map. One team must defend the control points, while the other team must sabotage them within a certain time limit. The defending team wins if time runs out, while the attacking team wins by destroying all of the defense points.

Split-Screen Shooting on Nintendo GameCube Nintendo GameCube gamers can get their fix of XIII multiplayer action with up to four-player split-screen in Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag and Hunt modes.

The PC version features online multiplay for up to eight players per map, and an exclusive map editor for gamers to create their own action-packed levels.

For more information, please visit: www.whoisXIII.com.

Game Play

The learning curve on this game is similar to most shooters. You die and then you learn what not to do and where the enemies are that you need to look out for. It is the same die, reboot, and survive technique.

The commands use the AWSD keypad or the cursor keypad to move around. Giving the player choice is always better than locking them into a pattern they may not like. Customizing keys is a good feature.

Many players are too lazy to reset the keys and would prefer to play the default keys. Most players want to play the game and do not have time to set up custom key sets. Most people just play the key sets that exist when they buy the game.

The controls were not in the manual that I was sent with the game. Unfortunately, the copy I was sent was not the retail release and the documentation was copied. My manual says that you can set any controls that you want to.

I had to go into the game and write down the default controls that came with the game. I hope the retail copy of the game comes with a default command card.

A nice feature in these games would be to provide a print commands function to allow the player to print the default or user customized command set. Many game players find a cheat sheet useful in the early game to help them keep the commands straight. There is not such thing as user friendly or intuitive command sets. There is always something odd about the command set. The player needs to learn each command set during play.

The game involves jumping up on boxes, breaking vents, crawling through vents, picking locks, finding keys and opening doors, stealthy and noisy killing of opponents, jumping over gaps, missing the jump and falling to your death, picking up weapons, armor (head and body), ammo, health packs, and all out mayhem. There is really nothing unique save the comic book style and the wonderful voice acting commented on below.

There a a lot of missions that require you to guard another player. That player does not use caution to stay out of the line of fire. You end up killing the bad guys and your charge dies.

Many people do not like games that have guard the prisoner elements to them. Some of the games are ok because the person or item, ie frieghter, acts with sufficient artificial intelligence (AI) to avoid conflict or has enough resistance to enemy fire to survive.

Unfortunately, General Carrington's AI in the Emerald Base is very bad and he dies almost immediately. I have had a lot of trouble keeping him alive. If you don't like this type of game, you might want to consider that you may not be able to keep Carrington alive and finish the game.


The protagonist wakes up on a beach with amnesia. A female lifeguard takes him to the lifeguard station. A helicopter with about a dozen people on it comes and attacks, dropping enemies everywhere. You find a truck and get out.

The protagonist's name is XIII. XIII finds out that he is wanted for assasonating the president. The FBI prior to his escape tells XIII that they have conclusive evidence.

XIII finds he is an operative of General Carrington who is not locked up at Emerald base. XIII has to get Carrington out to find out who he is.

XIII has the assistance of Major Jones, the female add to General Carrington. Major Jones helps by getting XIII out of the FBI clutches and to the base where Carrington is being held.


The graphics appear to be two dimensional drawings on three dimensional characters. The look is very flat even though you can see most (can't say all unless I know all) of the details of the characters and the setting in three dimensions.

The style of the drawings is unknown to me. Perhaps the artists would let us know who influenced them.


Comic book style animation is fluid and very interesting.

Voice Actors

The game’s all-star cast includes actor David Duchovny as XIII, actress/musician Eve as Major Jones, and actor Adam West as General Carrington.

Adam West uses his campy, humorous style to take the edge off this edgy mature animated product. David Duchovney added his voice talents to the game. Read his interview online at ../interviews/xiiidavidduchovny.htm.

“XIII isn’t like any videogame I have ever seen – it plays like a suspenseful movie with a conspiracy-ridden storyline filled with enough twists and turns to keep everyone guessing,” said Duchovny. “Players are in for a lot of surprises with this game – things are never what they seem, making for good drama and a great game.”

XIII is a stylish, first-person shooter thriller featuring a conspiracy of epic proportions. David Duchovny takes on the role of XIII, a secret agent with complete amnesia who must discover clues behind his true identity. Avoiding pursuit by the FBI, who accuse him of assassinating the president, and a mysterious group called the Twenty are just two of XIII’s challenges; he must also uncover sinister plots against the U.S. government from its highest offices. Duchovny joins actress/musician Eve, starring as Major Jones, and Adam West, as General Carrington, in the cast.

No stranger to the themes of government conspiracy, Duchovny starred in the hit television series about government cover-ups and conspiracy theories, The X-Files. Duchovny won a Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Drama Series for his work on The X-Files. He also appeared in many hit motion pictures, including EVOLUTION, Return to Me, and Zoolander. Duchovny is currently shooting Connie & Carla Do L.A. opposite Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette.

“XIII’s visual style is extremely eye-catching,” said West. “The game’s comic text and pop-up windows are similar to elements we used with the Batman series to stay true to the comic. In XIII, it builds this graphic-novel world to the last detail.”

XIII features a unique visual style utilizing cel-shaded graphics to showcase the game’s comic roots. Based on a popular graphic novel, XIII employs various comic elements, including pop-up windows and cartoon text to make the graphic-novel world come to life. Adam West, who played one of the cartoon world’s famed heroes, Batman, plays the role of General Carrington – a hard-nosed military general leading an independent inquiry into the presidential assassination. Carrington is the only one who can help XIII find out his real identity and the truth behind who killed the president.

West is famous for his portrayal as the caped crusader in the hit 60s television series Batman, and has starred and appeared in more than 50 motion picture, television, and stage projects throughout his career. He has also lent his voice talents to several animated characters for well-known shows including The Rugrats, Family Guy, Batman, and Johnny Bravo. West also authored two books, Back to the Batcave and Climbing the Walls, and starred and served as creative consultant for the recent CBS Movie of the Week, Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam & Burt. In July, West will host a series called Achieving the Glow on G4®, the ComCast-owned TV network all about videogames and the gamer lifestyle.

Philadelphia-born, Eve took the recording industry by storm with her critically acclaimed platinum debut album, Eve: Ruff Ryder’s First Lady. Her follow-up, Scorpion, featured numerous hit singles including the Grammy®-award winning, “Let Me Blow Ya Mind.” Her current album, EVE-OLUTION, is burning up the charts with the #1 hit single, “Gangsta Loving,” and her current single, “Satisfaction.” In addition to her red-hot recording career, Eve also appeared in 2002’s blockbuster movies, Barbershop and XXX, and is slated to star in her own UPN sitcom this fall. Eve will also star in THE WOODSMAN with Benjamin Bratt and Kevin Bacon, which starts production this month. XIII is the first videogame appearance for this multi-talented singer/songwriter/actress/trendsetter.

“Eve is the perfect person to play the role of Major Jones,” said Tony Kee, vice president of marketing at Ubi Soft Entertainment. “She has a combination of style, sexiness, and attitude – perfect attributes that describe the Jones character. Having a hot personality like Eve involved in the game enforces what the gaming community has been shouting all year – XIII is the coolest action-shooter in 2003.” Read the Eve inteview at XIII Interview with Eve voice of Major Jones.

Music Score

“We wanted to create something which ties together everything that makes XIII unique,” said John Coghlan, Ubi Soft brand manager for XIII. What better way to illustrate XIII’s unique style and leave a lasting impression than with music. Using a visionary group of artists like Future Primitive Sound was a natural selection, and the soundtrack captures the mood and style of the game to perfection.”

“We wanted to capture the essence of XIII in this soundtrack by showcasing its nostalgic style while giving the beats a modern twist. Our intention was to tell its story through the music and create a seamless headnodding mix that would complement the energy of XIII and get gamers hyped,” said Mark Herlihy, founder of Future Primitive Sound. “The game is solid and we feel privileged to be able to add our artistic touch to the project”

The soundtrack features a unique blend of funk beats and progressive hip hop produced by Future Primitive’s team of visionary artists, including Z-Trip, Romanowski, DJs Faust and Shortee, J-Boogie, Jack Dangers, DJ Zeph and Bing Ji Ling. The 13 tracks were all inspired by XIII’s themes of conspiracy and government intrigue, as well as the stylish 70s-influenced vibe created by the videogame designers. XIII is a stylish, first-person shooter thriller featuring a conspiracy of epic proportions. The game involves a secret agent with complete amnesia who must discover clues behind his true identity while avoiding those who are out to capture him.

Future Primitive Sound is a popular San Francisco–based art collective, consisting of many local pioneers of the San Francisco music scene who push the boundaries of Hip Hop and Urban Art. The collective was born out of Future Primitive Soundsession, a critically acclaimed concert series cultivating hip-hop culture. Many of its artists – such as Cut Chemist (Jurassic 5, Ozomatli) and DJ Z-trip (Hollywood Records) – have gone on to become successful mainstream recording artists and producers. The company includes an independent record label, production company, retail store, art gallery, and private-label clothing line. For more information, please visit: Future Primitive Sound Website URL.

The soundtrack will be available through pre-order at select retail locations in September. Ubi Soft and Future Primitive Sound will also collaborate on a multi-city club tour to promote both the game and soundtrack this fall. For more information about XIII, please visit: www.whoisxiii.com.

Sound Effects


Eve has trouble loading on the D: drive of an IBM compatible computer, even when that drive is only a drive partition and the physical drive is actually C:. The problems were so severe that we were unable to install on the D: drive.

The C: drive install has problems but they are easily worked around. One merely has to click the autorun window closed when installing disk 2, 3, 4 and other disk swaps. The program will load normally if you close the autorun windows which open.

Early on the game has you flipping CDs. After the initial animation the game asks you for CD #2. A better option would have been to support DVD disks.

Save points are for consoles not for computer games. This game needs to have regular save games not save points.

Multi-player Features


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