I’m not a huge comic fan. That being said, when I see a comic series that catches my interest, I have to read the entire series, watch the shit-tastic movie and play the amazing game. Case in point: XIII. XIII is a Belgian Graphic Novel series that is a crime noir/thriller about a man who washes up on shore of Maine with Amnesia. From here on out, it’s a game of cat and mouse where a terrorist organization, the FBI, and a hitman proceed to chase the man who apparently shot the president. Imagine the act of the Kennedy assassination meets the Templars from Assassin’s Creed. Not to mention that a bunch of CIA conspiracies pop up throughout the adventure. Eventually, the man does regain his memory along with the true identity of the president’s killer, as well as the organization behind the entire assassination plot. I don’t want to ruin the story altogether because it’s that good, but I will delve into the two pieces of media I am well experienced in covering, the Game and the made for TV movie based off of the graphic novel.
First up, XIII the game for PC, PS2, Xbox and Gamecube. Now, I know I covered it in a past article, but I can honestly say, this game is a masterpiece and needs to be covered in full detail. It’s a cel-shaded First Person Shooter. Normally, for the last generation consoles, cel-shaded usually means shit shaded. The graphic style was often obtrusive and too cartoony for most standards. Even more recent games that utilize it aren’t without faults. That isn’t to say it isn’t good, but it’s hard to do right. Of all the games I have experienced that use cell shading, only XIII, and the No More Heroes games really do it right. I guess Ubisoft has a knack for doing graphics like that, which is
a good thing for this game since it’s based off of a comic series. It has that comic feel and it plays to it’s heritage.
The main menu is like separate panels from a comic, the cut scenes play out like animated comics (look at the MGS Digital Comic on PSP) and with certain weapons like the crossbow or the throwing knives, you get death animations in comic cells. It’s highly innovative and something you didn’t see at the time with games.
The game essentially follows the main comic story with a few discrepancies. For example, instead of old people finding the main character in the start, it’s a blonde lifeguard. Granted both times they immediately get killed, although the lifeguard gets blown away right in front of your eyes. Another example for the game being switched up is the instance of the bank. In the comic, XIII is forced at gun point to retrieve his booby trapped safety deposit box, whereas in the game, he goes upon his free will to try to piece together his memory. Little things like that are okay by my standards when you are interpreting a story between medias.
Ubisoft got big name actors for the voice overs in the game. David Duchovny is XIII, which I’m not exactly sure if it was a good choice, seeing as how he plays XIII as bland as Keanu Reeves acts in real life, but it sort of fits the role I suppose. They also used Adam West as General Carrington (who isn’t batshit crazy) and Eve as Jones. Eve is a banging model/actress and her character is sassy like her. The music in the game is fantastic as well, with a blend of funky electronic music, to swinging disco like fighting music. Finally, the guns and shooting sounds are… well, shooting sounds.
I can’t really comment on the multiplayer, mostly because I never played with anyone offline and online no one was really playing it. This falls back on to the fact that the game didn’t really sell that well. It wasn’t well known and when it was released, it kind of fell off the Earth. I encountered it by chance, as a local Electronics Boutique had it for three bucks new and I couldn’t pass it up. Now that GoG has it in their catalog, it would be a good chance to give a lost gem a chance.
But then there was a shit storm known as XIII: The Conspiracy. This was a two part made for TV movie by a Canadian movie company and was released in October 2008… And it’s baaad. When I say baaad I mean baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. It changes way too much from the original story line to fit with today’s time. They implemented storylines like General Carrington is Kim Rowland’s father and that they feed XIII a fake name to make him happy. Ross Tanner my ass. Half of the XX Conspiracy members don’t even make an appearance. THEY CUT OUT A MAJORITY OF THE PLOT LINES. Remember how I said I appreciate little changes between media, well this is an example of making too many changes. Oh and the Mongoose? He’s a bald old man in the comics and game, but in the movie, it’s doughboy Val fucking Kilmer. Were these people on crack?
Now there are other XIII related media, like the point and click game and the new tv show (which is a continuation of that shitty movie) but they don’t hold up to the standards of the comics and shooter. It’s really an intriguing story, one which nowadays has been done so many times that it’s like beating a dead horse to death, but from the 70’s it was groundbreaking. Sure, we may never get a sequel to the game or a movie like the Watchmen did, but one can dream, and it’s a dream that’s worth dreaming.