Occasionally, I get the desire to play a new game, and so I figure that rather than pay for one, I’ll just download a demo and play it for a while. Unfortunately, I tend to get hooked and end up buying the game anyway. On Wednesday, I bought XIII, a cel-shaded first-person shooter, after having played the demo last weekend. Finished it today.
Pros: The gameplay was fun. It had the right combination of action and tactics to make it interesting, but it wasn’t complicated enough that it required deep thought or terribly intricate skill (of course, I played it on the easiest setting). The cel-shading was cute, although I stopped noticing after the first few minutes. I did like the “comic-strip” style, though; one nice thing is that all the sound effects had visual cues on-screen, so that it was completely playable with the sound off, perfect for a crowded bus. Finally, it features the voice talents of David Duchovny and Adam West.
Cons: A bit too violent for my taste; the feel of the game made its way into my dreams at least one night. The game didn’t feature enough places where I could save; I felt like I had to repeat too much of it over and over again. There were a few too many spelling errors. From what I can make out from the credits, it was designed in France and Quebec, but you’d think the English translators would have at least double-checked their work a few times. I guess it’s par for this sort of game, but after spending $40 on the game, I was a bit nonplussed to be done after only four days of playing evenings and on the shuttle to and from work. My last game purchase lasted over a month, so this was a disappointment. Finally, the ending was stupid.
Overall rating: B-
What I did find interesting were the subtle differences between the demo and the final game. I’m used to demos that are identical to the final product with most of the levels removed. This one was much more obviously done while the game was still in final development. The demo is missing features like saved games (I was glad to see them after playing the first half of the demo levels a few dozen times), there are more keys, for things like switching weapons or using a med-kit (probably added after game testers complained), and although the gameplay is the same, the on-screen graphics are more polished.