I can't attest to the state the game is currently in. But speaking as someone who got fleeced out of 40 bucks when this came out, XIII may very well represent the worst that this industry's fetishization of remakes has to offer. The original XIII is a rare case where I honestly believe a sequel would have been a better opportunity to improve the original. The original XIII is far from a perfect game; if you want an excellent example of style over substance, it's ripe fruit for picking. Underneath its stylistic sheen and comic book influences are... another generic shooter. Once you step outside of the story sections that drag on, the actual meat and potatoes of XIII are paced pretty damn well for a game that came out in 2003. There's a solid understanding of level-based gimmicks that never feel bombastic enough to make for set pieces, but never feel thrown aside enough to be the left-over bullet points on a mid-2010s Call of Duty announcement video. Trying to do it all over again misses the point that, while the good parts of XIII certainly aren't going anywhere, they're stagnant without proper iteration.
XIII, as the remake I knew it as, showed little interest in upping the ante. Ignore the broken shooting, awful sound design, terrible AI, and busted visuals this game shipped with originally. They remade almost all of the cutscenes, but the first one? That's just a video that you watch by osmosis. Yeah, an unnamed guard sits down and puts it on, and you never find out who this motherfucker is or if you gotta shoot him in the face or whatnot. Man's just sitting there, dozing off to the opening of a conspiracy thriller, because...? There was also the matter of characters not following your movements during conversation scenes, a basic visual feature that shipped with the game being remade here.
Again, this is not me commenting on the state of the game as it is. The general consensus I've heard on that is that it's okayyyyyyyyyyy? Like, not great. Not by a country mile. But it's better, at least. Honestly, the fact that this title was able to make any sort of recovery at all is a miracle. To call its development tumultuous is putting it pretty fucking mildly. Underpaid and untrained staff forced to work unreasonable hours under piss-poor management that divided the already small workforce into minuscule chunks, lies to desperately cling to projects for clients that the development staff was not adequate enough to handle with any sort of finesse, the whole nine yards. If you want a good-old-fashioned FUBAR development story, XIII is probably one of the more baffling ones in recent memory. I sincerely wish the new development team good luck, although I don't care to see if any of their work is worth playing or not.

Reviewed on Nov 25, 2022


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