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Review: XIII Remake – A big disappointment

Review: XIII Remake is a is a big disappointment. The developer has chosen a different route for remake that does not do justice to the source material.
4.6/5 - (63 votes)

Review: XIII Remake – In 2003 Ubisoft released a shooter for the PlayStation 2 that can be called unique and original in several ways. This is XIII, based on the eponymous comic series, which presented a shooter entirely in the style of the comics. With a classic cel-shaded style combined with all kinds of comic spaces during gameplay to indicate certain situations, the title stood out from other games due to the special interpretation of the whole. In terms of style, but also gameplay and story, it stayed true to the comic series in a good way and now seventeen years later, XIII is back as a remake. But whether this is a nice reunion… that is doubtful.

Fantastic shooter

In 2003, XIII was a shooter who managed to stand out in various ways and one of the primary things was the influence of the comics. The cut scenes consisted of several boxes that followed each other and more than once you saw it from different angles. This really gave the game that comic book feel, and that’s one of the main reasons the game is so loved. Besides that, it was also interesting in terms of story to follow and the gameplay was very smooth for its time. Now in 2020, Microïds is releasing the game again and I must admit that, as a big fan of the original, I was looking forward to this release with great pleasure.

XIII Remake

But in this case, the developer of this game, PlayMagic, is doing just about everything wrong. If you are going to recreate a classic, one of the conditions is that you at least match the quality of the original. This combined with gameplay that meets contemporary standards, creating a mix of both nostalgia and good playability. It is painful to realize that this game has deteriorated in everything, which makes you wonder what the added value of the remake is. It is zero at the moment. The developer and publisher have already indicated that they are going to work on it, but that does not alter the fact that the quality is simply not good.

Clunky steering of XIII Remake

In everything you can notice that the game has mainly focused on the recreation of all levels, the most important moments and the renewal of the cut scenes. The latter is a strange choice, because the cool style of the original has been thrown overboard and has made way for a standard way of presenting cut-scenes. Why that is so is a mystery to us, but it somewhat kills the nostalgic feeling. In addition, you can also ask questions about the developer’s priorities, because although it looks okay graphically, the original is still very good – especially when playing on PC.

XIII Remake

So the gain is not very big visually, but you quickly get that with a cel-shaded game. That said, however, what should have been the main focus was the game’s technical performance and the gameplay itself. That is literally a drama, making the game almost unplayable at times. Think big frame drops, stutters, screen tearing … all annoying visual problems come along, along with technical issues that hinder the smooth gameplay. In addition, the gameplay feels very 2003, making the controls incredibly clunky by today’s standards.

You do not move well enough through the levels and because the enemies move so unnaturally, it is often just spraying in the hope that you hit something. Of course, if you’re remaking a game, it’s wise to make the gameplay modern and feel like any other shooter feels today. That is not the case in the remake of XIII and along with the many technical issues you will quickly get irritated by the gameplay. It doesn’t run for a meter, the game has a lot of serious graphical glitches and the default setting of the controls is also very dated. Normally that should not be a point, but we do not mention this without reason, because the menu is also a mess in terms of control.

XIII Remake

By default, crouch is on the circle that you have to hold down, which is totally inefficient in gameplay. However, you can adjust that, but to do so you first have to click ‘General’ in the options menu, then go to the ‘Crouch’ option in the list, click on it and with a second click it will be adjusted. Going back quickly to the gameplay by pressing the circle several times does not work, because the adjustments are not saved. You have to do this manually first, otherwise everything will reset to default. Most annoying, cumbersome and unusual. Or what to think that returning in the menus is all under circle, but if you want to continue the game, you have to press the cross at ‘Continue’, because then the circle will suddenly not work as a return function.

In everything the controls are therefore flawed and that will quickly get on your nerves. There is not much that can be done at the moment, so it remains to be seen until updates are released. The developer promised to make improvements, but how long that will take is a bit of the question. At the moment XIII is simply not a good game and that while they have taken an extra year to complete the development as well as possible. Now the pandemic is responsible for unexpected obstacles, but that does not alter the fact that it is a license to deliver a game that is so flawed.

XIII Remake

And then we have not yet talked about the AI ​​in detail, which is so changeable that they sometimes see or discover you when they actually couldn’t and the other moment you stand next to them and they don’t realize anything. It does break down the feeling of excitement and adventure, because they react so completely randomly and what also doesn’t help in fierce shootouts is that changing weapons is so very slow. You have to press left or right on the d-pad to switch and that takes a second or two before you can continue. Not the time you have in dire situations, but that is partly due to the terrible input registration, because half the time you have to press twice for something to happen. Something that increases frustration even more. Sin. Finally, the audio, which is just as changeable as the AI ​​in mixdown.

Longer playing time

The adventure itself – if you get through it – is roughly eight hours, which makes it a fairly long shooter. Perhaps not immediately in 2020, but for its time the playing time was fine and the developer adds an extra layer to that. For example, there are collectables in the game and there are quite a few, which motivates you to dive into the adventure or other separate levels once again after completing the game and to collect the remaining figurines and things. This also works together with Trophy progression, so you also get a lot in return and that is of course nice for the fanatic players.

In addition to that, the game has a multiplayer, which you can play in both deathmatch and team deathmatch, but this multiplayer only covers three maps and can only be played locally. Anyone who knows the original knows that the multiplayer was fun to play back then and that it was one of the first online games on the PlayStation 2. Why the game cannot be played online now probably has to do with the costs of the server hosting, but that does not mean that it is not a pity. However, with the bad controls at the moment, you will also get tired of the multiplayer pretty quickly so in that sense an online multiplayer probably died out quickly. Nevertheless, it is a pity that it is not possible.

Conclusion of XIII Remake

The XIII remake is a big disappointment. Where the original did nice things in terms of cut scenes, the developer has now chosen a different route that does not do justice to the source material. Graphically it looks neat for what it wants to do, but at the same time the original is still good to use. As a result, we do not really understand why the developer chose a different graphic style, because that detracts from the experience. This applies even more to the gameplay, which at times gets in the way by so many technical shortcomings that you are fed up at one point. In between all these bad moments, however, every now and then the nostalgia comes up when everything works equally well and that is great. However, that is not the rescue of XIII, because there is still a lot to be done for the experience to improve. However, beneath that very rough coat lies the potential and it is now up to PlayMagic to polish that up ASAP, so that this pearl gets the shine it deserves seventeen years later.

Pros

  • Great soundtrack
  • Still a unique shooter
  • Story still fascinating

Negatives

  • Clunky steering
  • Many technical defects
  • Graphics bugs and glitches
  • Stupid AI
  • Bad input registration
  • Sound is all over the place
  • No online multiplayer

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