Review by JW ACE

"A huge surprise and a welcome one"

When I cashed in my gift certificate to by this game, I was thinking, ''...well, it looks good, and it will play on my computer...''. So when this game turned out to be the most fun I've had since Max Payne, and is quite possibly the best PURE FPS to come out since Half-life, I did nothing short of applaud when the credits started rolling during the end game. It left me wanting more, not wanting the game to end.

It is harder than you think to rate the graphics of this game. The characters and inter actable objects are 3D. However most of the other things are 2D, for example, the tree's. They look like cardboard in a few spots. However, this is actually a good thing, as this game is suppose to be imitating a graphic novel. So with that in mind, the graphics are excellent.

You will notice in the credits that Epic is given credit for the Unreal engine. The system requirements for the game are a 700mhz with a 32mb graphics card. The game played very smoothly on my 866mhz computer, although my graphics card is a 128mb Radeon8500. It is most likely a simplified(very simplified) version of the Unreal Warfare engine, but it could be a heavily modified original Unreal engine. Either way, you feel like playing in a graphic novel, Ubisoft did it. (the game was done internally as it turns out)

Here is where this game is prevented of getting a 10. With the bigger guns in hand, the sound crackled quite a bit. In fact, every shot of the sub-machine gun or higher caused my speakers to crackle. Inexcusable. Other than that, I think the sound is great. David Duchovny's voice is a little monotone, but he is playing a guy who's had amnesia.

Controls and Gameplay
Here is where Ubisoft makes there typical ''each game must have something unique'' fingerprint. The controls are your basic WSAD configuration with a few exceptions. The F button scrolls your inventory which consists of med kits, keys, and yes...even a grappling hook!!! You can use the hook to climb and repel off cliffs and walls and such.

Besides that there are other elements in the gameplay that makes this game different from others. For one, you can take hostages! You can only do this a few times in the game, but its quite cool, and it works. People will not shoot at you if you face the hostage in their direction. Something else you can do, in fact its necessary in some parts of the game where you need a non-lethal takedown, is pick up chairs, brooms, and other things and break them over peoples heads to knock them out. And, of course, the whole game just ''feels'' like a graphic novel, as well as ''looks'', which I stated above. Inserts of guards walking around the corner up ahead, let you know its time to hide...and various things like that.

The only thing I can really complain about is the set of skills you have. You supposedly have to learn them, but you seem to do this almost instantly. After playing the first 2 or 3 levels, I checked to see what skills I learned and I had learned all of them. Another thing people seem to be complaining about is that even though you do a full install, not all the files are put to your hard drive. Some still need to be accessed from the CD, and hence, you have to change them as you progress in the game. While this is a little inconvenient to the people with the hard drive space, it is certainly not a show stopper, or something to whine constantly at. Unless you pirated it and need to go through the bother of having to mount the ISO images in your hard drive to be recognized at the CD drive. Hey, the game came out at $40, which is less that they average, and its actually well worth $50.

The story is why I didn't want this game to end. I don't want to go into the details just because this game is full of surprises. Learning new things that you should have known before is quite fun and addicting. I was forced to keep playing because I wanted to learn more about myself(your character). The number XIII (13) represents one of 20 different people each part of a conspiracy. Its a little unclear as to what the goal of the conspiracy is exactly, only that they want to rule the world like every other power hungry group. In any case, you play the game discovering the identities of each of the remaining 19.

Now why I compared this game to Half-life earlier, I wasn't joking. Both games had me playing on wondering how it was going to end. I became the character, the story and gameplay was so good. Not to mention, the ending was quite worth it, can't really say the same for Half-life as we all know.

It almost seems we have forgotten what a good FPS is. With all these Word War 2 games that try to make us believe we are in a battle, and Jedi Knight and Elite Force are in categories all their own. Deus Ex and System Shock 2 are outstanding but they are technically in their own genre, the FPS/RPG hybrid. Even Return to Castle Wolfenstein had its flaws, it didn't offer anything new, and today, as well as years to come, it will be remembered more for its multi player. This game falls under nothing except First Person Shooter, and it is a great one.
There is some multi player, but its the single player that your going to be discussing about this game in years to come.

I would like to just mention that I have not, and most likely will not, read the graphic novel this game is based off of. So I do not know if the story is true to the novel, or if it does it justice. All I do know is, this is a great game, and I think it is all because of the story.

What a story, what a game, and what an ending. I promise you will be begging for a sequel. Keep those game coming UbiSoft, you guys are on a role.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 01/16/04

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