Although XIII features a fully realized story, it doesn’t seem to get in the way of the games action. Most of the plot points are introduced during intermissions, rather than tying it into the game play. There are moments where you hear guards talking just out of range of your visual, but most of the important information is given out as a reward for completing your tasks. It would have been nice to see this mix be a little more seamless, perhaps more along the lines of how the original Half-Life or Halo implemented the story.
Another problem with these levels is that the enemy’s artificial intelligence rode in on the short bus. It’s clear that the programmers tried to make these computer-controlled characters do things, but it usually means they are oblivious to their surroundings. If you kill a patrolling guard, his buddy will investigate his fallen comrade even if you’re standing right there shooting at him, which, thankfully, you can use to your advantage more than you’d think. It’s little things like this that poke holes in the games over all enjoyment.
The game isn’t extremely long, either. Your average first person shooter fan should be able to jet through the game in just over ten hours. Outside of the multiplayer modes, there isn’t much to do once you’re done with XIII. You can ponder the story, which leaves a few things up to interpretation, or perhaps attempt to play it on a higher difficulty, but not much else.
As mentioned, XIII does offer a couple of multiplayer modes that are definitely worth looking into. The best of them being a good, if not bare bones, online component that allows you to play up to six people at the same time. There are nine online levels, some of them can only be played with four, while others can be played with up to six. Each level is based on a location in the one-player game, but has been redesigned to make a workable arena for online battles … for the most part.
It’s pretty obvious from the get-go that the online function was something they worked on only when they had the time. It doesn’t have a friend’s list, features a no frills interface, and has absolutely no voice support. In fact, it’s impossible to communicate at all in this mode, which may be a problem if you intend to play with your buddies. If you just hop online to play a Deathmatch against a bunch of people you’ve never seen before, then this lack of communication won’t bother you too much, but it is something that should have been worked out before the game shipped. Likewise, once you pick a game, you’re stuck repeating the same level over and over until you either master it or exit to a new level.
There is a complete lack of online first person shooters on the PlayStation 2, so it’s easy to cut XIII a little slack for at least trying. If you can look past some of the games limitations, you should be able to have some fun online, especially if you don’t play a lot of PC games online. On the other hand, the PlayStation 2’s offline multiplayer offering is extremely lame. Where both the GameCube and Xbox versions had a four-player split screen, the PlayStation 2 only manages to give us two players at once. I’d try to explain why a two person Deathmatch is dull and boring, but by now I’m sure everybody already knows why.
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