Review: XIII – Game Remake – Based on the 1984 Belgian Graphic Novel Series

It barely happens that the same developers try to create another remake of the same masterpiece. The exceptional case of XIII shows that everybody makes mistakes, and sometimes it’s best to learn the hard way. This comic book game has come a long way to become one of the best fps single player shooters in my opinion.

The Twisted Story of XIII

XIII’s story is based upon the Belgian comic book released in 1984. The first game adaptation came out in 2003 for PC’s and game consoles, including Sony PS2, Xbox and Nintendo Gamecube. It’s been developed by the French branch of Ubisoft. This fps shooter received decent notes from players and reviewers. However, the sales discouraged developers from making a sequel – until 2019. 

That’s when Microids (another French developer) announced the re-making of the classic XIII for the common platforms, including PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Not long after the announcement, I witnessed this complete failure. The remake scored 4/10 on average, and there were reasons for that. 

Nevertheless, many studios would forget about it, but the teams of PlayMagic and Tower Five have placed ash on the forehead, and made the attempt to enhance the game. The effect is astonishing – in less than two years we get another, improved edition of XIII, which even made it to Sony Playstation 5 and Xbox consoles. Moreover, the owners of the older version can update their games for free.

This time, our patience paid off. The present version of XIII is a really, positively surprising experience – even if you haven’t heard of the original game from 2003. 

Spooky Intrigue 

Our hero wakes up on the beach, not remembering anything, a beautiful nurse helps him out. However, it quickly becomes apparent to him that he’s in danger. First of all, the FBI want’s to get him for killing the US President. Moreover, some other thugs are after him. The only clues are the military clothing and a mysterious tattoo of XIII. Is our hero going to meet anyone, who would believe his side of the story?

The story itself is impressive. However, despite the improved graphics, the dialog seems a bit corny – they lack drama, which would make the events shown on the screen more realistic. Nevertheless, the idea of amnesia combined with gradual memory recovery does the trick. In general, it’s an engaging spy story, which shows the sick ambitions and corruption of the authorities. 

It’s worth noticing that XIII’s story often gets deep into political fiction. Historical racist organizations, the complete change of identity and the nuclear threat – all of this makes the scenario engaging, reminding us of a good action movie from the breakthrough 80’s and 90’s. The stories combined with the gameplay pace makes XIII a perfect mix of chaos.

What About the Gameplay?

XIII is a typical FPS with some stealth features. I said “some” because throughout the whole game there were maybe 2 stages, where I had to sneak quietly. Despite shooting enemies using a tactical crossbow, which is very satisfying, stepping in with a loaded rifle gives you better results. As for the alarms, there aren’t too many, and it’s easy to spot enemies who try to approach them. 

The most important feature of XIII is, undoubtedly, its distinctive cel-shading, which gives the story the comic book taste. The standard FPS shooting gameplay is supplied with the frames showing the events going on in the back, or behind the doors.

The breakneck speed of XIII’s gameplay makes it an outstanding title. The main story has been divided into four chapters, containing smaller phases. Each phase takes about 15-20 minutes to finish. The whole game takes about six hours to complete; it’s a good chunk of a solid, intercontinental bloodshed with the sinister agents.

The arsenal is impressive – guns, rifles, sniper rifles, crossbows, bazookas – using each of those weapons is a pure joy. It rarely happens that you come into a room with no enemies craving for some bullets. It’s been a while since I’ve played a game, which gives the player such feeling of agency. Despite the fact that you can’t take the acquired weapons to the next level. Each stage allows you to gather a deadly arsenal.

However, the exploration isn’t limited to shooting. You have to get the hang of spy accessories – cables with hooks, etc. In the last few years, many games utilized hooked cables, and XIII makes the most of this gadget. I like the idea of cable’s adjusting with two buttons, and the analogs for rocking the hero.

The realism of the gameplay makes you feel like an American spy. What’s more, I have to praise the crazy fun when stunning the enemies with one hit, kicking the doors down, or putting guns to hostages’ heads – hostages can really save your butt when escaping. Until you turn your back on the adversaries, they won’t shoot, fearing for the safety of the innocent. This way you can evacuate easily. Such solutions make the title, which original version came out it 2003, fresh and playable.

I must admit, XIII was so good to play that I totally forgot about the failure of the first remake. Taking into account the 6 hours of the fantastic gameplay, I would recommend buying this game. The spy story – despite the outdated storytelling techniques – is really entertaining, and the game itself is filled with action. I couldn’t believe that time passes so quickly while playing this Microids masterpiece.

Why it’s not 10/10? First of all, the bosses are easy to kill, it should be much harder – you just have to pick up an effective weapon, approach the boss and shoot until he drops dead. The second issue – which is crucial for Playstation 5 players – is the lack of support for adaptive triggers of the Dual Sense controller. Moreover, the vibrations appear only when the player takes a hit. In the result, a great shooting model mixes with the lack of physical experience, which would make XIII an even better title.

Only one question remains unanswered – why on earth they didn’t make such an outstanding remake in the first place? Well, it’s hard to say. However, the latest XIII still stands out from the crowd. I truly recommend it, especially to the new generation game console owners, who could enjoy stable 60 Fps in 4K – it’s hard to imagine another Fps shooter, which can run that fast.

The original title, even though I didn’t play it back in the day, deserved a decent remake, so it’s uplifting that it finally happened.

About Author
Meet Jack, a passionate gamer and esteemed video game reviewer whose journey with video games began in childhood. With a deep-seated love for gaming, Jack has dedicated countless hours to playing, meticulously analyzing every facet of gameplay, graphics, and storylines, developing an expert eye for quality and innovation in the gaming world. His vast experience encompasses testing over 1,500 games across various genres and platforms, showcasing his commitment and expertise in the field. Jack is not only recognized for his profound knowledge and insights into video games but also for his professional accomplishments. As a top-rated PRO freelancer on Fiverr (nickname: jackvonthor), he has established a remarkable reputation for his high-quality game testing services, offering invaluable feedback and detailed reports to developers looking to refine their creations. His professionalism and skill set make him a sought-after professional game tester in the industry. Jack's journey into the realm of video games began with classic consoles and computers such as Atari, ZX Spectrum, Amiga, Amstrad, Commodore, and PC. Growing up with these iconic platforms, he not only developed a deep appreciation for the evolution of video games but also gained a unique perspective on how gaming has transformed over the years. This rich history with games from an early age has equipped Jack with a comprehensive understanding of the medium, allowing him to connect with a wide audience through his insightful reviews and professional testing services.