Wut U Talkin Bout is a quick look at overlooked titles in gaming history, or an overlooked entry in a franchise.
No, not Final Fantasy XIII. XIII, a 2003 first person shooter published by Ubisoft. The title has a Bourne Identity style plotline about a former special agent who gets amnesia after a failed mission. Despite being a mature title, XIII uses a cel-shaded art style which was very different when compared to the more common realistic first person shooters. Through this, Ubisoft made a comic book style shooter that, even seven years later, still remains an interesting and unique experience.
It’s true that comic book styled games are no stranger to the video game market. But the extent at which these titles take the concept is limited. Often you will have comic-panel cutscenes, cel-shaded visuals, and maybe a fancy menu screen. But very rarely do these ideas bleed into the game itself. XIII still uses the style exactly how you would expect it to in non-interactive cutscenses, but XIII also pulls it into the gameplay itself. In-game cutscenes, or key events, appear in panels to keep gameplay flowing while still delivering narrative. Sound effects in the game have actual on-screen text that appear, which play into stealth gameplay. Players are able to see footsteps of enemies through walls and objects, giving them a readout of enemy positions before they even enter a room. And while it doesn’t effect the gameplay, particularly devastating deaths make uses of the panel as well, giving you a close up view of headshots and other enemy deaths.
Despite its refreshing style, XIII is also a very stale experience. The title released right before some of the more modern first person shooter concepts were being laid out. Health packs, the ability to carry an the game’s entire arsenal, explosive barrels and more dated concepts appear. And like with almost every shooter in the late 90s and early 2000s – there are air vents, and you will climb through a lot of them. Although, it was interesting that XIII is one of the few games I have ever seen that allows enemies to pursue you through the vents.
Those used to the more modern fast paced shooters may be put off by XIII’s dated mechanics, but those who can look over them will find an interesting comic book shooter that goes beyond just a visual style. Finding the game isn’t that hard, as its on the original Xbox, PlayStation 2, Gamecube, Mac and PC. And the asking price for the title is far from high. As of writing, you can buy a new copy of the game on most platforms for less than $10 on Amazon. And with differences between the online multiplayer being out of the way at this point, it doesn’t really matter which version you pick up.