XIII logoSource: PlayMagic

In recent years, the story mode for first-person shooting (FPS) games has started to feel like an afterthought, something to shoehorn into your multiplayer experience. There are exceptions to this, of course, and some FPS have started to use the story mode in earnest, so now seems the perfect time to bring back an FPS that spent hours telling a great story. XIII, the PlayStation 2 classic, is getting a remaster for the PlayStation 4, and from what we are seeing it could be a good one.

What is XIII?

XIII PS2 screenshotSource: Ubisoft

Based on the comic book of the same name, XIII is a Jason Bourne-style story of an assassin that loses his memory. In the case of XIII — you are called XIII because you have a tattoo of it on your chest — you have also been accused of killing the President of the United States. What follows is an excellent and story-driven example of how to make a great game.

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Back when it was first created, a lot of the game styles and mechanics were almost unknown. Cel shading was in its infancy, but by using comic book panels to break up the story, XIII maximized the impact of that aesthetic.

It also used a lot of in-game mechanics that made for some fascinating moments. Using people as hostages and human shields is not seen very much, even in modern games, yet it added a layer of depth to your gaming session that made XIII stand out. Even the use of furniture to use non-lethal force against enemies was almost unheard of at the time. It felt to me like you could do almost all of the game and never fire a shot if you put your mind to it.

So is XIII - Remake a sequel?

XIII remake character renderSource: PlayMagic

No, this is a remix. The developers are taking the story from the original game and reworking almost all of it to better fit today's demanding gaming standards. It starts with the most obvious thing to overhaul: the graphics. The graphics engine is getting a massive makeover using the power of the PlayStation 4 to push the graphical fidelity forward while still maintaining that cel-shaded feel that made the original XIII stand out.

Along with the graphical changes, some of the gameplay mechanics will be tweaked to better fit with the way modern FPS games work. I'm hoping we don't lose some of the more enjoyable mechanics because of these changes but I think PlayMagic will do a good job.

The studio is also remixing the sound for the new game, though I hope they don't update the dialogue. One of the best parts about looking back at old games is hearing the style of dialogue from that time. Plus, the original XIII had TV's Batman, Adam West, and anything with him in it should be preserved at all costs.

What is XIII going to look like?

As of right now, we have no gameplay footage. The only thing we've seen is the teaser trailer above, which doesn't give us much to go on at all. The trailer itself is wonderful, styled to look like a James Bond opening credit sequence, but it gives us no hint as to the gameplay mechanics or even what it looks like.

It's clear the designers aren't quite ready to show us what they have, and I think it will be much closer to the release date before we see anything concrete.

When is the XIII release date?

According to the Sony PlayStation blog the release date was initially set for Nov. 13, 2019, but has now been pushed back to sometime in 2020 to further polish the remake and improve the overall quality. We should see some actual gameplay footage in the coming months.

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Updated Feb. 4, 2020: Clarified the release date, which was delayed to 2020.

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