The original XIII released back in 2003 and has gone on to become a cult classic. When it was announced that XIII would be getting a remake for modern audiences, naturally, fans were quite excited to see such a beloved game with a new coat of paint—reborn on current day technology. In a rather strange turn of fate, the original game would see a resurgence in sales upon the release of the remake because, quite frankly, the remake is a mess. So much of a mess that even the developers issued a public apology for the state of the game on release. Now, for the sake of this review, I’m going to try and find the silver lining here with the XIII remake; but, bare well in mind that, they are few and far between.
One of the major issues fans of XIII had with the remake was its decision to completely overhaul the game’s iconic cel-shaded art style. Now, while this change in art direction really subtracts a lot of the original games charm, the game doesn’t exactly look bad. In fact, it actually looks quite good for the most part—if a little uninspired. It doesn’t retain the comic book aesthetic that the original was famous for, but it does a good enough job being a visually appealing game, and it still has some of the comic book cues (such as the sound effects appearing as words on screen). I know this art change has proved to be contentious with fans, but I, for one, felt that the new art style was just fine. What wasn’t fine, however, was the gameplay and optimisation of this game.
To put it simply, the game is terribly optimised. It doesn’t run very well and controls very poorly, to boot. The core gameplay mechanics of the original are still here but are tweaked for reasons unknown. For some reason, your weapon carrying is limited here where in the original it was not. Furthermore, there were many times throughout playing that the controls simply didn’t work: I couldn’t get the grappling hook to lower, or the game kept switching me to melee fists instead of my gun. These were truly frustrating glitches that were made all the more worse by the endless foray of graphical glitches and frame-rate and screen-tearing issues.
On top of all of that, the game’s audio is also awful. Sound effects are out of sync; some instances there is simply no audio at all, even when a gun is firing. That said, the voice work is decent; although, I believe it was just lifted from the original game. I just don’t understand how so much can go wrong here.
Ultimately, the XIII remake is a rather lazy attempt at remaking a beloved game. While it may be true that COVID-19 played a role in this game’s lack of polish, it can’t be disputed that this game simply should not have been released in the state it was in—and definitely not for the price tag it was launched with. If you want to experience XIII, maybe just go purchase the original game; otherwise, it’s best to wait for this game to get patched and—hopefully—fixed at some point.