Review by lonebb
"The President is dead, but the comic book is alive!"
You are ''XIII,'' true identity unknown. You wake up on a beach to find a beautiful woman to assist you. You have blurred memories.. Suddenly, the woman is killed, and you have to fend for yourself against armed agents.
I love cel-shading, when it's pulled off well; it certainly is here. The talking animation could have used more work, but everything else is top-notch. You have text displays of most of what is said, and there are onomatopoeia for actions, like if you hear someone walking close by, you see a ''tap, tap, tap, tap'' in size relative to how close they are.
Likewise, if you throw grenades, you see a nice explosion and a large ''BOOOOOM,'' and if you're too close, you get dazed and your hearing is blurred for awhile. If someone busts a fence down, you see a ''CRAC!''. Nothing is left undescribed, and it's just like reading a comic book. This is a good thing.
You can hear everything, and this is often of the utmost importance. The voice acting is superb. When you shoot someone, you can hear them moan as they hit the floor. You can even hear them hit the floor.
You can see when someone has noticed you, and if they've spotted you, you can hear them say ''What the..?'' I'll elaborate more on this later. You can hear gunfights from quite a ways away, making things very dramatic.
This is where it gets good. You have a multitude of weapons to choose from, including a Glock-ish handgun, a Revolver, a Shotgun, a Sniper Rifle, a Bowgun, a Grenade, an Automatic Rifle with a Grenade firing secondary, and much more.
When you need to not kill someone (and there will be those times), you have several options. You can sneak past someone by being slow and quiet, or you can knock them out in several ways; hitting them over the noggin with a spade, a chair or even an empty ash tray, or just walk up behind them and give em the ol' axe handle. You can also take hostages and hold them in front of the enemy to keep them from shooting you.
There are cool adaptions to your surroundings that let you know what's going on - the reaction modes I explained earlier; when a guard notices something, you'll see a big exclamation point over his head. If you back away, he'll go back to his post/route. If you wait too long, or move again within his sight, the point will change to a question mark, and he may go off his post/route to investigate. If he REALLY sees you, you'll notice a yellow box and several points/marks, and he'll probably do whatever it takes to end your attempts (especially if it's triggering an alarm).
Often times a small frame will pop up to show you someone walking by, or to help describe some event happening that you can't quite see. This helps the comic book feel along.
You also have nonviolent tools to use, such as a hookshot, a lockpick and other such things you find along the way, all which have their areas of use well marked out, and everything is easy to use.
I haven't finished the single player mode yet, but it basically starts out as you being washed up on a beach with amnesia, and you soon learn that you may have recently killed the president.
The control here is excellent. You move with the left stick, view with the right stick, etc etc. There are a few different things, though. Left and Right on the D-Pad moves through your nonviolent items, and Triangle lets you quickuse any health item you may have in your inventory (they aren't used right away, thankfully).
If you have a few friends, you can set up a very entertaining multiplayer experience. There's the always entertaining deathmatch, and a couple other modes I haven't tried yet..
However, the most fun I've had so far was with a mode called ''The Hunt''. It features a walking hooded grim reaper, without the scythe. He walks around slowly, singing an old soft rock tune that I can't recall, which will alert you to his presence if you don't see him first. His voice is rather oddly pitched, so my friends and I call him the ''death baby,'' because he can randomly kill you if you touch him. This sets up for loads of fun as you shoot each other's heads off in attempt at the ultimate goal: to kill the ''Death Baby,'' which gets smaller each time you shoot it.
Final Verdict: Buy or Rent?
I would buy this one. It can go online, and once the hype of SOCOM 2 dies down, more people will be playing this one online. If you have a few friends, you won't have to wait!
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 11/29/03
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