XIII (video game)
Southend Interactive (Xbox)
|Engine||Unreal Engine 2|
|Release date(s)||NA 18 November 2003 (PC & PS2)
XIII is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ubisoft Paris and published by Ubisoft for most platforms except for the OS X version, which was published by Feral Interactive. Loosely based on the 1984 Belgian comic book XIII, the player controls protagonist Jason Fly (XIII), a confused and amnesic man who searches for his identity throughout a comic book-style, cel-shaded world. Found stranded on a beach by a lifeguard, Fly is accused of having killed the President of the United States. The accusation later transpires as mistaken, as Fly finds himself facing a gang of 20 conspirators ("The XX") who aim to overthrow the government. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox and OS X. A reimagining of XIII, the point-and-click adventure game XIII: Lost Identity, was released on October 17, 2011 for PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad.
XIII is a first-person shooter with elements of stealth and action in certain missions. The game centers on the main character, named XIII, who has awakened with amnesia. He uses a variety of weapons and gadgets to uncover the mystery of his identity throughout the 13 chapters and 54 missions. The characters and weaponry in XIII are cel-shaded, giving a deliberately comic book style appearance, including onomatopoeic words contained in bubbles for sound effects. It uses Unreal Engine 2, the most recent engine at that time, as it was "really strong for level design" and allowed development "across all platforms using one engine". The graphics were compared with Jet Set Radio Future and Auto Modellista. The developer felt that the appearance reflected the comic book and innovated in its portrayal of violence; even blood splatters are shown in a cartoon manner.
XIII includes 16 weapons, from a knife to a bazooka, an Uzi to an M60. Objects such as bottles, chairs or brooms may be used as weapons. Kevlar gear, helmets and first aid boxes are scattered throughout the map. People can be taken as hostages or as human shields, preventing enemies from firing on the protagonist. Lock picks are used to unlock doors and grapnels to climb on walls. Through the "sixth sense", XIII can hear enemies behind walls with the aid of "tap-tap-tap" signals. Stealth operations include strangling enemies or hiding dead bodies. Captions pop up at the top when a headshot is performed or serve as clues or tips for the player.
The multiplayer hosts a maximum of 16 players. The game features three standard game modes along with modes exclusive to each system: Team Deathmatch, Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Sabotage (exclusive to Xbox and PC), The Hunt (exclusive to PC, PS2 and GameCube), and Power-Up (exclusive to PC and PS2). Depending on the platform, players in online and offline modes (against bots) range from 4 to 16. The GameCube version does not have any online modes, while the PC version excludes the multi-screen modes but includes a map editor. There are 13 maps on Deathmatch plus one additional on Team Deathmatch, while 5 on Capture the Flag and 3 on Sabotage. The player can choose from among 10 different character appearances, but 99 more are available in unofficial skin packs for PC players, the most recent being 2.0. Four additional animal skins (shark, duck, bat, dog, seagull) may be downloaded. As their bodies are not realistically proportioned, new or inexperienced players may face difficulty in distinguishing the skin's exact body. Cheating in both multiplayer and singleplayer is possible, as the software does not include any anti-cheat protection.
In Deathmatch, all players compete against each other and the strongest player wins. Team Deathmatch is similar, but players form two teams. In Capture the Flag, a player must retrieve the flag from his enemy's base, and bring it to his own team's base. In Sabotage, one team must place a bomb in three different locations, while the opposite team must protect these areas; the protectors win if the time limit is exceeded (except if the time is set to infinite). The bomb is always found at the beginning of the team base, and the player who holds the bomb must wait 12 seconds until he may drop it and take shelter from the ensuing detonation. In The Hunt, players must shoot ghosts, which become gradually smaller after receiving hits. The player only has one weapon, the hunting gun, with which he can also shoot human opponents. Power Up is a deathmatch game, in which boxes containing special, temporary abilities, such as invisibility and higher speed, are found throughout the map.
||This article may be too long to read and navigate comfortably. (February 2014)|
The story begins with an introductory sequence, in the style of an animated comic book, depicting the assassination of the President of the United States, William Sheridan, and the FBI investigation into the hit where they discover where the shooter had been. Later, during a live TV broadcast, his brother, Walter Sheridan, declares to the people of the country, that he will continue his brother's work and be in the White House. During a meeting between a US General, and the FBI Head, a man named Amos who has only one arm, the general declares he will investigate in his own way, leaving Amos to continue the FBI's own. An unknown man, in a trench-coat, declares over a payphone that someone named "number XIII" will no longer be a problem, while a group of various government, military, and business people are informed by someone that they can proceed with operations. During the sequence, a tattoo is being put on a man, inscribing a Roman numeral on him; the number 13.
The protagonist of the game, known only as XIII to begin with (and voiced by David Duchovny) because of a tattoo on his right shoulder of the Roman numeral XIII, awakens on Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, New York City. Badly wounded from a gunshot, he is rescued by a female lifeguard and brought to her lifeguard station after collapsing while walking to her truck; before waking there, he has a flashback in which he had been on a boat, under attack by others and was shot by an unknown man, the same one from the introduction. While at the station, he learns he cannot recollect anything of his past, or his name, except for the flashback; his memories are lost, he has no ID, and all that he possesses on him is a locker box key for the Winslow Bank in Brooklyn's financial district. Shortly after being rescued, he is attacked by a group of unknown assailants who kill the lifeguard, leaving him to fed for himself, learning he has military skills and keen senses.
He manages to escape his attackers in a pick-up truck, and heads into the city to find out what the key will do for him, at Winslow. Once there, he enters and is led to the vault, where upon using the key on a locker box, he finds a briefcase of important documents to a major conspiracy within the US along with a bomb; XIII recalls that he and a woman planted it there as a trap for anyone who came for the documents while he went to the boat he was shot on. XIII barely avoids the trap himself, but the resulting chaos forces him to escape the bank another way; during the escape, he overhears the bank's director informing someone to bring the "Mongoose" to deal with him, revealing himself to be involved on the attacks on him, as he refers to him as "XIII".
In his efforts to escape the carnage in the bank, he is later arrested outside the bank by the FBI, and Amos, who identifies him as their chief suspect, Steve Rowland, wanted for the assassination. A photo recovered in their investigation, proves his involvement; despite the fact XIII can't recall it or claim to be him, despite the bank staff calling him Mr Roland. While being interrogated, two matters occur. The first is that Steve Rowland was military, a Captain who was also married, but his file in the Pentagon disappeared and he is claimed to have been dead following a mission in Mexico, two years before the game's events. The second comes moments later, when an explosion occurs in the building, leading to an attack on the FBI's secret offices in the district, by the same assailants from the beach and the bank. During the confusion and chaos between them and the FBI, XIII succeeds in escaping the headquarters and over the rooftops of surrounding buildings, with the aid of a female soldier, called Jones, the same woman he remembered.
After escaping, Jones reveals that XIII can learn more about what is going on by rescuing an ally of hers, by the name of Ben Carrington (Adam West): an old war veteran, and a General in the Pentagon, who was investigating the President's death on his own, and had valuable information on the assassination. However, he was also arrested sometime before the pair's escape from the area, by another officer in the Pentagon, General Standwell, making Jones suspicious to the reason behind it. XIII is forced to head to Carrington's location at a military station in the Appalachian mountains, called Emerald Base, to infiltrate the facility and free Carrington; during his infiltration, a military group attacks the base's soldiers in an effort to eliminate Carrington for the conspirators. During his efforts to get inside, he has another flashback, revealing he worked for a branch of the US army called SPADS, the same group attacking the base, and that Carrington is his superior and assigned him to an important mission, making him need to question him about his past. Thankful for his rescue by XIII, Carrington learns of his amnesia, and upon escaping the base, reveals to him what he needs to know. He informs XIII on how he had been close to identifying the leader of a group of twenty conspirators who had been involved in the assassination, before he had disappeared; all members hid their identities behind Roman numerals from 1 to 20, with I being the leader. XIII learns also, that he isn't Rowland, as the real Steve Rowland, who was XIII, pulled the trigger that killed the President Sheridan, but was betrayed by the other conspirators.
Both he and XIII, upon escaping, learn that Steve's wife, Kim, is in trouble from the Mongoose who has sent men to kill her, so XIII heads out to rescue her at a frozen lake in the Rocky Mountains. Upon meeting her, he learns more from a flashback; his face was surgically changed to that of Steve Rowland's by Carrington, and that Kim, his former wife, was part of the group, as number XVII. Kim found out about her husband's betrayal after he dragged himself back to his wife before dying, causing her to want revenge on the others, and so agreed to help with finding the identities of the other conspirators. He also remembers that Carrington was close friends with President Sheridan, and was keen to find the people who had him murdered. The pair both believed that if Steve didn't appear to have died in the betrayal, the group would slip up badly and reveal themselves trying to get rid of him, though Kim knew that if she went ahead with the plan, the conspirator would eventually learn of her actions. After the flashback, Kim reveals she identified three members, heading to a SPADS camp out of the country. XIII agrees to go there, after helping to cover her escape from the area, but during his own escape, an avalanche is caused by the attackers, knocking him out.
XIII is recovered by the Mongoose, who, instead of killing him, sends him to a high-security asylum called Plain Rock, located close to the Grand Canyon, to be examined and interrogated on his allies trying to disrupt the plan of the conspirators. Mongoose begins to suspect he isn't Steve Rowland, since he was involved in killing him in the betrayal, so assigns the facilities director, Dr. Johansson, to do uncover if he is Rowland. When taken to be cleaned, XIII escapes the guards and heads through the facility, soon facing off against the director, who he finds is number XX; he also has another flashback, in which the group met in a place called the Sanctuary, owned by one of the group. Using a nurse he rescues as a hostage, at her suggestion, XIII manages to escape the asylum in an ambulance, before it crashes near the canyon. XIII continues on foot, through a mine and some ruins, while escaping his pursuers, before rejoining with Jones who is waiting for him in a military jet, with orders to fly him to Mexico, where the SPAD camp Kim mentioned, is located.
Once at the camp, XIII infiltrates it as the three members meet inside the base. Two of them turn out to be Standwell himself, and the SPADS commander officer, Colonel MacCall. As XIII enters, he overhears a couple of SPADS talking about Steve Rowland, and a rival of his he competed with, and who Carrington hired. XIII finally recalls his identity as they mention his name; Jason Fly, who was Steve's rival in SPADS, and the one who assumed his identity as XIII, was hired by Carrington to uncover the whole plot behind the assassination. Now knowing his name, Jason resumes his job of planting a bug on MacCall's tent before his meeting with the other conspirators in the base. Fly listens in on the meeting, learning that the SPADS are working with the conspirators, through McCall, numbered XI, while Standwell is numbered III; the third member, Willard, is a US Senator and is also numbered V. The group plan to use army manoeuvres for a simulated war scenario, which SPADS will supervise, to make a move for a coup d'état on the US government, in which V reveals he plans to pick up a list the following day of those who support their cause, while MacCall reveals his men will be ready that night for an arms shipment to support the cause further; Standwell also reveals he removed Rowland's file to impede the FBI's investigation into the assassination. After the meeting is concluded, Jason recovers the file, and then sabotages the base, damaging it badly.
With his presence exposed, and his escape route lost, Jason is forced to find another way out, and makes his way back through the base. During his escape, he encounters MacCall, and kills him in a gun battle, before Jones informs him to find the submarine docked at the base, the USS Patriot. Locating it within a submarine dock that is part of the base, he silently stows away on it before it departs, and then searches for the radio on board after it dives to contact Jones. During his time on board, he learns the submarine's captain, Captain Edelbright, is another member, numbered VII, who contacts I about his mission and the shipment of missiles he has on the vessel. Jason has another flashback when he hears the words "Completing the mission", and recalls how close he had been to identifying number I. After the captain leaves, he inform Jones over the radio of the subs destination, before stowing himself away. Whilst waiting for the Patriot to reach its destination, Jason recalls everything he's experienced since Brighton Beach. However, upon reaching its destination, the crew of the submarine detects him, forcing him to fight his way out of the submarine, which also leads to him killing Edelbright trying to stop him escaping. Jason soon finds himself inside a secure US Naval base on the Eastern Seaboard, codenamed AFMD-10, and is forced to continue to fight his way to freedom to rendezvous with Carrington, sinking the sub and its shipment in the process and taking on an attack chopper. Jason is surprised when he find Amos with Carrington, but hands over Rowland's file to Amos, detailing everything he was assigned to do, and what he found out; Rowland had faked his death to make him free to assassinate President Sheridan, but hadn't counted on the group turning on him, with the Mongoose killing him. What the group hadn't expected, was Rowland to survive long enough to get back to his wife before dying, and his wife opting betray them and to suggest the idea for exposing them to Carrington, who organised for Jason Fly to take Steve's place through plastic surgery.
With Amos in the loop, he agrees to help out with Jason's mission, and prepares him to spy on a meeting at the Bristol Hotel in Washington D.C., where some of the conspirators will be meeting. Making his way to a room giving a good vantage point of the meeting, Jason listens in on the meeting with a shotgun mic, overhearing a conversation with the Winslow, the bank director and number IX, the Mongoose, and Willard, number V, all of whom look forward to things beginning during the simulation, codenamed Operation: Total Red, with the current President, Galbrain, not knowing anything at all about their plans. Before Jason can find out more, he's spotted, and is forced to pursue Willard and Winslow, cutting the power to the elevators to prevent them escaping. Both men attempt to fight back against Jason and the FBI, but are killed in separate gunfights, dropping papers that point to the Sanctuary's location; the Willard Estate.
Using a catering company van as cover, Jason infiltrates the estate silently, avoiding detection to gain entry into the building. As he reaches the entrance leading into the sanctuary, Jason has yet another flashback, this time of the Mongoose, revealing why Steve got away to his wife; Mongoose couldn't complete the job, despite shooting him three times in the chest, as the police arrived. Knowing XIII hadn't died and would likely seek revenge, despite the fact he was dead, the group took the bait Carrington had used, resulting in the events that led to their exposure. Jason continues to go in deeper, avoiding the guards or eliminating them to avoid raising the alarm and spooking I, who is holding a meeting at that time. Once in position, Jason overhears fully, when the groups coup will happen, what will be done, and why the group did what they did. With enough information, Amos has the FBI proceed to the location to rescue him, while Jason attempts to escape, forcing him to fight the other members of the group in the process.
Upon learning about the plot, Walter Sheridan reveals how the plan will be put into action, through a secret military base in Maryland, codenamed SSH1. Jason, who assumes the identity of an officer of the rank of Colonel Marshall, goes with Walter to help him infiltrate the base and prevent the coup from succeeding as well as protect the President Galbrain. But one of the president's aides, Calvin Wax, stops him from proceeding with Walter, leaving him to find another way inside the facility's lower levels; this forces him to neutralize the GIs who block his path, and hide their bodies out of sight to avoid the alarm being raised and alerting any remaining conspirators to troubel. During the process, he overhears the men revealing that SPADS are at the faility, and they soon begin to takeover the base, holding the President hostage as a result. Jason is forced to fight them, and General Standwell, who attempts to eliminate him but fails and is killed instead. Jason finds Galbrain, calls off the operations for him, then carries him to safety after he passes out, finding out along the way that Walter was captured. After safely leaving the President with a GI, Jason heads off into the rest of the base to rescue Walter, discovering that Calvin Wax is planning to give the order for the coup. Jason believes he's number I, and so heads off to stop him as well. But in the control room for the operation, where Walter is being held in a small side room, and after dealing with more SPADS, Calvin is revealed to be number II, not I, and decides to destroy the base, setting off its self-destruct sequence, before killing himself to take the identity of I with him. Jason frees Walter and other hostages and, with Walter's help, ventures deep into the base to cancel the detonation and successfully does so. But attempting to leave the area, he has a run-in with the Mongoose, who reveals he knows his true identity, before attempting to eliminate him. After a tough fight, Mongoose is finally defeated, and meets up with Jones, Carrington and Waleter.
The story ends with Jason meeting with Walter on his private boat, with Jones, Carrington and Amos. As the fireworks go off to celebrate things, Jason heads inside to find Walter, but overhears him with Kim who fears for her son's life, while he asks her why she didn't deal with XIII. Then a flashback occurs in a room, in which Jason remembers the interior of the boat he is in, is exactly the same one where he had been when he was close to finding out I's identity. To his horror, Walter arrives with armed men, and the game ends with a cliffhanger, leaving behind the promise of a sequel.
Development and promotion
Ubisoft announced on March 13, 2002, that it would be working on a game called XIII. Based on the comic book of the same name by Belgian Jean Van Hamme, it would create "a world so unique and enthralling that gamers will become instantly engaged", according to president of Ubisoft Entertainment, Laurent Detoc. The game debuted at an event in Montreal, and was later submitted at the 2002 Electronic Entertainment Expo in May 2002, with such games as Doom III, Max Payne 2 and Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. On November 22, 2002, Ubisoft announced a delay of the game, although the company did not state a reason. Justin Calvert of Gamespot guessed that the time would be used to thoroughly check the game and implement additional features on other platforms.
On May 7, 2003, Ubisoft announced that singer, actress and model Eve would be the voice for major character Jones. Ubisoft's vice president of marketing, Tony Kee, stated that she was the perfect choice for the role, admitting that she has "a combination of style, sexiness, and attitude—perfect attributes that describe the Jones character." Two months later, two other major voice acts were declared: David Duchovny would play Jason Fly (XIII), while Adam West, General Carrington. The official site was launched on August 19, featuring movies and information about the gameplay. Ubisoft implemented a pre-order in September 4, promising a free demonstration version with multiplayer and soundtrack. Kee promised it "will give gamers just enough XIII to whet their appetite until the game launches in October" and "will be a record-breaking preorder campaign for Ubi Soft."
The game was promoted at the Fall College Tour from September to October. Beginning at Cornell University and finishing at the University of Southern California, the tour featured demonstrations of games, playable via the 50-screen GamePort system. Another demo, now multiplayer-only, was issued on October 2, but the discovery of a bug lead to its removal. A different fixed demo was released a day later. Xbox players had the opportunity from December 15 on to win one of 50 copies of the game. The campaign was dubbed "13 Days to Xmas": those who spent not less than 13 hours playing until Christmas were qualified for the contest. The winner was randomly selected on January 9.
|The Thirteen Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by numerous artists|
|Genre||Video game soundtrack|
|Label||Future Primitive Sound|
The Thirteen Soundtrack was composed by several artists from the San Francisco-based music label Future Primitive Sound. 13 tracks were produced, all of which were initially unnamed. According to the booklet, the DJs are connected with the characters, such as DJ Faust and Shortee with XIII, DJ Zeph with Carrington or J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science with Mongoose. The album opens with an introduction and then includes songs in the likes of typical 1970s-era music such as soul, funk, jazz, but also hip-hop. According to founder and "Creative Director" of the collective, Mark Herlihy, the soundtrack project began with Herlihy's friend, Pete Jacobs, whom he met at a gig, five or six years previously. After studying the characters and the story, the group decided on a noir and futuristic style which would reflect the espionage theme. Its rhythm ranges from 105 to 120 bpm.
Herlihy later stated that they "wanted to capture the essence of XIII in this soundtrack by showcasing its nostalgic style while giving the beats a modern twist" and their intention was "to tell its story through the music and create a seamless head-nodding mix that would complement the energy of XIII and get gamers hyped." One reviewer of IGN gave the album 8 out of 10 stars, stating: "It's an album that works expertly as a chill-out slice of background groove, yet it also doubles as a dance floor jolt of exuberance perfect for spinning at a small party", but also stated that the player, understandably, quickly forgets the music while playing. He concluded that the album is "jazzaphonic electronic tripped out funkuphoria".
|The Thirteen Soundtrack track listing|
|2.||"J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science"||J-Boogie||3:38|
|4.||"Needle Drop"||Dj Zeph||3:34|
|5.||"The Mission"||Faust & Shortee||4:44|
|8.||"The Black Hole (Remix)"||DJ Z-Trip||2:38|
|9.||"The Drumbattle"||Faust & Shortee||5:30|
|10.||"Covert Ops (SWAT Vs. Meat Beat Manifesto)"||Meat Beat Manifesto||3:12|
|11.||"Tino's Beat (Faust & Shortee Remix)"||Tino||4:41|
|12.||"Untitled"||Bing Ji Ling||3:26|
|13.||"Lord of the Pants"||Romanowski||4:14|
XIII received generally mixed to positive reviews from critics. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation 2 version 76.62% and 73/100, the Xbox version 76.31% and 74/100, the GameCube version 75.65% and 73/100 and the PC version 73.83% and 72/100.
Reviewers often praised the game's graphical style and presentation, while criticising the gameplay. GamePro called it a "rejuvenating, jaw-dropping experience". IGN said "XIII has a great story-driven sheen, but at its core, it's weighed down by some occasional bewildering flaws, in addition to the lackluster weapons and simple combat". GameZone also criticised the combat, stating "If not for the graphics to carry the game through, XIII would have been a boring game. Gunfights are the best part of the gameplay. It also happens to be the most unbalanced part". Edge said XIII had "true artistic merit: it never gets stale; every episode has been drawn with minute care and attention. It would have been an incredible achievement if the gameplay had matched the outstanding art direction". GameSpy criticised the graphics and the multiplayer mode, and concluded "When it comes right down to it, XIII is a fine game...Just don't expect the FPS of the year because, sadly, this isn't it".
GamesTM said "It's one of those mixed-bag situations – flashes of genius and genuinely enjoyable moments of success, occasionally mired by unbalanced weapon damage, clumsy AI and the odd bit of unfair level design that requires astounding feats of memory". Eurogamer called XIII "a flawed masterpiece. A game brimming with variety and a freshness lacking from most of the factory farmed franchise exercises that pass through our offices with crushing regularity". Game Revolution complimented the game's story, graphical style, voice acting and soundtrack, while criticising the gameplay as "about as straightforward – and in some cases boring – as it gets for an FPS". Electronic Gaming Monthly scored the game 6.5/6.5/6.5: Joe Fielder, the first reviewer, said, "You'd be hard-pressed to find a more visually stunning game than XIII", but complained that "numerous frustrations pile up to make XIII more chore than thrill". The magazine's Greg Ford, who provided the third review, said that its "style, cut-scenes, and story are all great, [but] the actual gameplay is pretty mundane"; he concluded, "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".
A reimagining of XIII, called XIII: Lost Identity, was released by Anuman Interactive for Windows, Mac, iPhone and iPad on November 15, 2011. It was not released on consoles. The game is not a shooter, but a point-and-click adventure game.
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