XIII is one of my favorite games on the PS2. It’s certainly my favorite shooter on the system. So when I heard that they were remaking the game for modern consoles, I was pretty excited.
Unfortunately, the excitement that I had abated quickly. It’s apparent right from the start that the game suffers from considerable slowdown. The frame rate drops anytime the shooting starts, and it can make landing an accurate shot quite difficult.
There’s also a lag time when swapping your weapons. So if you’re in a dogfight, run out of bullets, and need to switch guns, you’re a sitting duck. Between this lag time and the slowdown, that’s the main difficulty with the game. It’s technically challenging because it is broken.
I will say that this is a loyal remake in terms of story and level design. They even used the same voiceovers from the original. This is a double-edged sword because while many will appreciate the throwback, the voice-acting in particular shows its age. It does have some fairly well-known actors in it, including The X-Files‘ David Duchovny and Adam West of Batman fame.
The game centers around a successful presidential assassination conspiracy that is reminiscent of the JFK assassination right down to the motorcade. Your character wakes up on a beach suffering from amnesia. He quickly becomes a prime suspect in President Sheridan’s murder, but all is not quite as it seems.
However, not everything about the game is loyal to the original. The unique cel-shaded graphics that looked similar to a comic book have been rather clumsily recreated. It does not have the same effect or charm as the game did on the PS2. It also does not look super sharp either. So you sort of get the worst of both worlds: a game that looks different stylistically than the original and yet something that is not up to PS4 and Xbox One standards.
Aside from failing to remain loyal to the style of the original, there are also glitches that greatly detract from the experience. Characters sometimes have a weird flickering. I think it’s supposed to be shadows, but the effect looks awful. As for glitches, more than a few times the main character would randomly launch skyward like he just stepped on a spring.
Let’s talk about the AI for a minute. There’s one word that best describes enemies in this game: braindead. They’ll often ignore you if you’re fighting alongside an NPC. They also often ignore the fact that you just gunned down a nearby enemy who was standing right next to them. I also witnessed situations where they’d crowd into each other and basically create a logjam.
To be honest, it’s almost comical – but if you spent $50 on this game, you’re probably not laughing. The game also features four-player split-screen multiplayer, but I’m not even going to touch on that other than to say that it’s unplayable in its current state. I only hope that the promised patches rectify this situation and fast.
All of these issues add up. The end result is a disappointingly unenjoyable experience that badly fails to live up to the original cult classic. Even with likely patches on the way, I do not see this game ever living up to the original. Frankly, it should not have been released in its current state.
Make no mistake about it: the XIII remake is a mess. They took a franchise that was well-positioned for a remake and rushed out a product that is a worse experience than you’d get if you just dusted off your PS2 and popped in the original XIII. It’s an old game now and a bit rough around the edges, but at least the original does not have the performance issues found here.
Now, we’ve gotten word just today that PlayMagic is planning to release a patch that they say will fix many of the issues described in this review. Ethically, I cannot hold this review knowing that the game is still on the market and people might buy it in its present state. Simply put, avoid this game until you hear that it’s fixed. We’ll update this review if warranted.
Game Freaks 365 received a free review copy.