You wake up on a deserted beach. You have no memory, no identification, and a pounding headache. Your only clues to who you are and why you're there are a blurry flashback, a key to a bank, and the number XIII tattooed on your neck.
Within about two minutes, your lifeguard rescuer is shot to pieces. You discover an incredible proficiency with weapons and, after wiping out about a dozen Mooks
, proceed to go about discovering who you are. Unfortunately, as you appear to be a long-dead Army Ranger with a history of heinous crimes and a wife who is a secret spy and who may have betrayed you, fighting for the side of good is no easy task. Especially not with multiple armies of baddies chasing you every step of the way.
Notable largely for its atmospheric Cel Shading
was originally a Belgian comic book (by writer Jean Van Hamme and artist William Vance), running from 1984 onwards. It keeps the bande dessinée
style — cutscenes are often divided into 'panels,' footsteps make visible 'tap tap tap's on the screen, people plummeting off cliffs leave a long 'AAAAAAAH!' trailing behind them, and devastating combat gets alternate camera angles through inset panels. Also in general a tightly plotted game, though a bit goofy at times.
- Adaptation Distillation: The game is loosely adapted from the first eight volumes.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The conspiracy manages to mix together Nazi fascism, Soviet totalitarianism and perversion of government, and KKK robes.
- Their logo is also an inverted swastika.
- Artificial Stupidity: The reason the final boss is so difficult is because he's programmed to only aim for your head, which he is very good at doing. However, if you hide behind the ladder used to enter the room, there's a spot where your head is obscured, but you can still just BARELY graze him. If you stay in this spot and shoot short, controlled bursts from automatic weapons, you can chip away at his health as he just stands there without firing a shot.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: The XX Conspiracy Leaders are all capable of taking an inhuman amount of bullets before dying. General Standwell and The Mongoose in particular verge into That One Boss territory, due to being able to cut you to pieces in seconds while requiring several clips of bullets to die themselves. Unfortunately, this does not apply to your unarmed, easily killed ally General Carrington (see Escort Mission below).
- General Carrington (when not unarmed) is a bit of a badass in cutscenes, however.
- Badass Grandpa: The Mongoose (the XX Conspiracy's The Dragon) is an evil version of this, being a supremely skilled assassin and the game's very difficult final boss.
- Big Bad: Walter Sheridan.
- "Blind Idiot" Translation: In-game text refers to the micro-uzis as "miniguns", which can result in much confusion if you're reading a walkthrough of the game.
- Boom, Headshot: Headshots do so much more damage than body shots in this game that it impacts tactics heavily. As an example, the basic pistol does 30 damage with a headshot, but only 6 damage when it hits anywhere else. In multiplayer, this makes helmets highly valuable.
- Cutscene Incompetence: The ending scene involves the protagonist going into a flashback in Sheridan's office while he discovers that Sheridan is the leader of the conspiracy. When he wakes up, Sheridan and two armed guards are surrounding him.
- Dead Person Impersonation: The key point of the plan to thwart Total Red involves Jason Fly receiving plastic surgery to look like his late rival Steve Rowland, a former conspirator who was double-crossed after he had played his part. When the remaining conspirators found out he was still alive, they had to finish the job, exposing their identities in the process.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The flashbacks.
- Depraved Neurosurgeon: Dr. Johanssen, who runs the asylum, locks a nurse in a room with a psychotic mental patient while he interrogates another inmate in the next room. This involves electric drills. It does not involve anesthetic.
- The Dragon: The Mongoose
- Dual Wielding: An option with pistols and submachine guns. The final boss dual wields a pair of micro-uzis against you, and can cut you to pieces in seconds if you let him.
- Elite Mooks: The SPADS special forces are supposed to be this, but gameplay-wise they're not much different than the Mongoose's goons, other than generally being equipped with better weapons such as assault rifles.
- Escort Mission: Escorting Carrington out of Emerald Base. It's not as bad as it seems, but Carrington still has low health and no weapon.
- Evil Plan: The XX plan to install a totalitarian regime in America by stationing their soldiers in all of the country's strategic points and instituting martial law under the guise of a "simulated state of war".
- Expository Gameplay Limitation: In the flashbacks, the player character can generally do little more than look around or move.
- Eyepatch of Power: How the one-eyed Standwell is a perfect shot with the least accurate gun in the game is beyond us.
- Government Conspiracy: From the beginning of the game, it is strongly hinted that the conspirators are very powerful and influential members of society. The members of the XX are later revealed to include high-ranking military officers, senators, corporate executives, and even the (new) president's Chief of Staff.
- Hostage Situation: If you sneak up on an unsuspecting individual, you can grab them and shuffle around with them. Enemies won't shoot at you if you're pointed right at them with the hostage, and you can use them as a Human Shield.
- Lampshaded in the third level by a bank employee who grumbles that if the robber would take somebody hostage, the guards would have to shut off the alarm.
- At one point, a nurse tells you to take her hostage to get past the guards, since she found out about Johannsenn (and was locked in a room with a psychotic patient to die)
- Immune to Bullets: The Attack Chopper boss is vulnerable only to RPGs. On that note, you better be good at hitting a moving target with what little ammo you have.
- Indecisive Medium: The main gimmick of the game is that it's like a comic book.
- Left Hanging
- Made of Iron: The Mongoose. And not just in the game, but in the comics as well.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Johannsenn, one of the conspirators. Runs an insane asylum where they dump victims of the SPADS, and is shown to menace the personnel of the facility for fun.
- Never Forgotten Skill: The story starts with a man with amnesia. Just like Jason Bourne, his combat skills are not at all affected by the memory loss.
- No Ending: The game adapts the first five volumes of a 19 volume comic so it has a Cliff Hanger ending to lead into the sequel that never came due to disappointing sales.
- No Flow in CGI: The game developers had to cut the Afro-style major Jones' hair.
- No-Gear Level: Escaping from Plain Rock Penitentiary.
- No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom
- Shout-Out: One of the SPADS can be heard to say "What is your major malfunction!? McCall's going to kill us!.
- Slap Yourself Awake: XIII slices his palm while drugged on a sinking ship to stay awake.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Prior to the game's release, someone from a review magazine once asked a developer for this game in an interview, "How are you supposed to pronounce the protagonist's name: 'X-I-I-I', or 'Eight'?" The developer's response was to blink a few times and reply, "You're supposed to pronounce it 'Thirteen'."
- Standard FPS Guns: Although there are a few changes, including the harpoon gun for fighting underwater, and the bazooka's secondary attack (bonking people over the head with rockets). The rest stay the same, though you can dual wield pistols and sub-machine guns.
- Stealth-Based Mission: Too many to count, including infiltrating Emerald Base, infiltrating the Sanctuary (which is actually 3 consecutive stealth missions), infiltrating the Patriot, and infiltrating SSH 1.
- Tap on the Head: Ashtrays, bottles, chairs, brooms, just about whatever comes to hand knocks out anyone good.
- Subverted with shards of glass, which are lethal when thrown at enemies.
- Boom, Headshot: A comic book-style freeze frame insert panel will pop up whenever you get a one-hit-takedown (ranged or melee.) Especially satisfying if you stick something through their head like a crossbow bolt or glass shard.
- Thirteen Is Unlucky: Well, his life ain't easy.
- Timed Mission: The last mission has shades of this.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Pretty much every member of the XX Conspiracy.
- Would Not Shoot a Good Guy: Using lethal force against cops or U.S. soldiers results in an instant game over. You need to either stealth past them, or knock them unconcious with a Tap on the Head.