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XIII Preview

publisher: Ubisoft
developer: Ubisoft
genre: Shooters

PIII 800, 128MB RAM, 32MB video, 1.2GB HD
ESRB rating: M

release date: Nov 18, 03
» All About XIII on ActionTrip

The French design team working on the upcoming multi-platform FPS XIII was kind enough to give us a brief insider's look on the game and the development process. Based on a Belgian comic book, XIII offers a unique approach to game design, using a very effective technology that involves a combination of cel-shading and 3D animation - all of which will be powered by Epic's Unreal engine by the way. At the beginning, players will have no idea of the main character's identity. Discovering a tattoo bearing the Roman numeral XIII, your character soon becomes a target and has to survive in order to get to the bottom of a great conspiracy. During the game, players will have access to several snazzy weapons and they'll be able to interact with items in the environment and use them to fight their opponents. More on that, and other issues in the following interview with the development team of XIII.

Action Trip: First a laidback Q shall we... What do you think makes an original video game today?

Developers: The surprise and innovation allied with improvement to gameplay. An original game is a game respecting the basic rules of a genre but does not hesitate to disobey some rules. We were told that a cel-shaded FPS was not a good idea. A lot of people have changed their opinion now of course since the game has huge expectations!

AT: Where does the inspiration for the game come from?

D: From various points. First it was a comic and we wanted to stick to that. We are extensive readers of American, European, and Japanese comics.

AT: Obviously the whole game mixes 3D graphics with a cartoonish animation technique. Explain a bit more about this interesting cel-shading method you're using.

D: The style is a combination of several methods: first we apply an outline on every object, character or weapon, then we have developed a specific shadow system to apply to these objects. The rendering is also created by the textures - they are all hand-made, no pictures were used. This is the basic method. Then, we had to make all the special effects and for that, we got a lot of inspiration from comics.

AT: Can you speculate roughly, how many hours of gameplay are we lookin' at here?

D: The designers are making a competition, the fastest now needs more than 12 hours to play the complete walkthrough, I would say 20 to 30 hours at least for expert gamers!

AT: Who is XIII?

D: XIII is the main character in the game. Players wake up on an East Coast shoreline, having been shot in the head and suffering from complete amnesia. All you have is a tattoo of XIII on your shoulder and a key to a safe deposit box to a New York bank. Throughout the game, players will find out who XIII is, who is trying to kill him and why, as they unravel a huge conspiracy against the U.S. government intertwined with a plot to assassinate the president.

AT: Can you divulge more info on some of the secondary characters XIII will encounter along the way?

D: Without revealing too much of the plot, some of the NPC characters you will meet are:

Major Jones - beautiful woman trained as a first-class soldier. She is General Carrington's assistant.
General Carrington - personal friend of the assassinated President Sheridan.
Colonel Amos - director of the FBI's anti-terrorist department. He is called to lead the special investigation of the President's assassination

AT: You clearly mention that the game will allow players to grab and use almost any item in the environment. Name some of these objects that we can use as weapons.

D: XIII is a highly trained special operative, therefore, he is able to use the environment around him as deadly weapons. He can kill enemies or hold them as human shields with his bare hands. He is also able to use items including but not limited to chairs, bottles and broken glass as weapons. There's a lot more I can't talk about yet, but these features make XIII totally unique and of extremely high playability value.

AT: Next to the usual equipment like the AK-47 and sniper rifle, what other weapons will the players be able to use?

D: A sample of weapons include: a Baretta, Magnum, Uzi, M16, Bazooka, Sniper Rifle and Harpoon. But the game's emphasis on stealth gameplay gives an advantage to the usage of knives and the crossbow.

AT: You also revealed the game includes various character skills. Give us more info on the subject.

D: XIII's Sixth Sense ability is just one of the game's innovative features. As a well-trained commando, XIII is able to turn any situation to his advantage. His Sixth Sense ability is like a personal radar, alerting him to locations of enemies, etc through visual signals of audible sounds in the game such as "Tap, Tap."

AT: Does XIII include a multiplayer mode? Will the Xbox version support Xbox Live?

D: Multiplayer gameplay features a host of new modes, with four-player split screen on all console formats, as well as online play on both PC and Xbox. To support the multiplayer mode, we are also developing some specific team modes - one involves players utilizing sniper fire to cover teammates. The PC version will feature online multiplay for up to 32 players, Xbox Live support for up to 16 players.



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