XIII Remake it’s a title particular, that back on our shelves again after a very troubled story. This new remake, in fact, was initially released about two years agopromising to bring back to life a much loved shooter but, by now, with fin too many years on the rump to be attractive to an audience that is now much more difficult to surprise.
The general quality of production, however, it turned out to be incredibly low, to the point of creating a real online diatribe, made up of extremely negative criticisms and reviews. This led to a Nintendo Switch version postponed on a later datewhich now returns to our shelves with i various improvements made to XIII Remake over the course of two years. Let’s see if they are enough in our review.
An all-around agent
The story of XIII Remake takes full hands of the typical genre characteristics of spy storiesbringing us a plot that does not miss any of the cliche to which we are now used to.
The protagonist of the game is a special agent who has lost his memory after a mission gone wrong, he suddenly wakes up on a beach, where he comes from rescued by a lifeguard (blonde and beautiful of course). This she decides to take him to the ER for understand the severity of his injuries and put it back together. A short time later, however, a hitman arrives on the scene and, looking for the protagonist, he kills her with a volley fired from behind the wooden door.
From here they start a series of vicissitudes that lead our hero to discover his past little by littleremembering one conspiracy he was trying to foil and bringing to light various betrayals, during high-risk missions. The story, in reality, never manages to be exciting, and the plot is always predictable.
This is not necessarily a defect if you approach the game with the right attitude: that of a title that now has many years on its back and, in general, which goes out of its way to be almost an exaggeration of the narrative genre of the spy story. XIII Remake indeed seems to want to be over the top in everythingleading to the player an exaggerated and caciarona experiencewhere even the story itself deliberately enhances the classic themes of the genre.
So how do you play XIII Remake?
The structure of XIII Remake is that of a classic linear shooterwhich bases all of its gameplay on one continuous series of shootingsalternate with short stealth sections it’s at small mechanics introduced little by little in the levels. In short, we are faced with a game divided by levelswith a background narrative that it advances with scripted scenes and very short dialogues.
Each mission of XIII Remake sees us therefore progress through ever-changing levelswith quite varied situations between them, where, however, the focus of the gameplay always remains at anyway that of shootings with enemies, always present in huge quantities. Then there are occasional items to collectsuch as keys or electronic cards necessary to continue and often obtainable after a healthy firefight.
What characterizes the experience, however, is one constant tension towards exaggeration and “style”: the charging animations are emphasized, helicopters explode in front of us and performing particular actions makes them appear real on-screen vignettes where you can see everything in detail. Shooting a sniper on a roof, for example, brings up a window where it is shown falling, complete with a giant onomatopoeia next to it.
All this, however, is inevitably “ruined” by mechanics and too limited interactions that, if at the time they might have seemed exciting, today they are cumbersome to an audience accustomed to titles with a very different general fluidity. We find for example NPC that must open the doors to let us continue, however, breaking the rhythm of the action with their slowness. They are added interactions without animations – like breaking grates or climbing a ladder – and mechanics like that of the grappling hook that remain slow and cumbersome.
XIII Remake therefore tries to stay faithful to the originalas it should be, but without being able to rejuvenate those elements that made it too slow and not very exciting by the standards of today’s action titles. On the other hand, these small details prove to be important in a video game that belongs to a where the fluidity of the action is central.
This situation, which in any case would be acceptable to a retrogaming enthusiast (yes, the original game is from 2003!), Is however worsened by several technical problems, which contribute to making the experience even less interesting. To begin with, AI has glaring problems: between enemies who suddenly lose sight of us, others who suddenly see us even from afar, soldiers who remain perfectly calm when their comrade is killed and a general lack of aim, the situation is not the best. Add allies who are often practically immobile all the time.
As if that were not enough, the quality of the gameplay is further lowered by enemies that fit into the scenariointeractions that sometimes do not work (as often happens with silent neutralizations), hits that do not hit despite having the target in the viewfinder and small problems such as clipping of objects during some animations.
XIII Remake it is therefore a sufficient titleespecially for retrogaming enthusiasts, but nonetheless definitely to be finished before becoming acceptable. The most glaring flaw is just that of deficient AI, which results in a general repetition of the gameplay and a lack of challenge that soon leads to boredom. In fact, this defect is not justifiable even considering the retro nature of the title, but instead proves to be a great limitation of the experience.
It is also worth the money a few words about XIII Remake multiplayer. This is presented as a simple accessory mode, certainly appreciable, but still not very developed. The short games are in fact based on simple gunplay, without any additional mechanics that can give depth to the formula. In other words, the game is limited to throwing players into small mapswith weapons and equipment scattered around the scene.
In true arena shooter style, each player must collect weapons in the scenario, which spawn at regular intervals, then seek out the other players and kill them. In all this, however, we are faced with questionable design maps, to which is added the basic repetitiveness resulting from a clearly careless multiplayer formula. Basically, a beautiful but not a beautiful mode.
A cartoon in motion
The technical sector of XIII Remake proves equally questionable. In fact, the game shows not very elaborate polygonal models, bare environments and animations to be reviewed. On the other hand, the models of the weapons and the animations of the protagonist are better. Unfortunately, however, the real problem of the technical sector are the continuous drops in FPS during the shootings and the clipping phenomena of the objects (such as the magazine of the gun while reloading).
All this comes only partially relieved by an excellent artistic sector, which is better than the first version of XIII Remake. Now we are in fact in front of a real comic in motion, thanks to a style in cell shading that combined with the cartoons gives the title an identity of its own.
In the end, the sound sector is fluctuating, with music always suitable for the occasion, but flanked by questionable dubbing – especially that of the enemies – and audio bugs where the voices, the sound of shots exploded and even the music seem to disappear for brief moments, and then return. In short, we are faced with the same situation that characterizes the rest of the production.