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"I can't remember a thing..."
Protagonist/Steve Rowland, XIII

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 safety deposit key, 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.

This 2003 game is notable largely for its atmospheric Cel Shading - XIII 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.


The game was also reimagined in 2011 as XIII: Lost Identity, a mobile adaptation that (largely) skipped the gunfights and was done as a Point-and-Click Game instead.

A remake/Updated Re Release with improved graphics and slightly tweaked gameplay, but the same levels and campaign, was announced slated for release November 10, 2020, coinciding with the month the original was released in, complete with gameplay trailer.

No relation to Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels, or the XIII Century Real-Time Strategy games.



  • 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, who is relatively badass in cutscenes but is completely helpless and easily killed when in gameplay.
  • Automatic Crossbow: Not fully automatic, but the game's more advanced crossbow model holds three bolts instead of just one, which naturally results in a much faster rate of fire.
  • BFG: The M60 machine gun is a beast of a weapon in terms of size, weight, recoil and hitting power. The RPG is even bigger. Somewhere in between lie the few stationary .50 BMG M2 machine guns one can find and man in the game, each of which turns every infantry assault into a corpse field within seconds.
  • 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 Dentist: Dr. Johanssen, the neurosurgeon 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, being a supremely skilled assassin and the game's very difficult final boss.
  • 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 armor and better weapons such as assault rifles.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Mongoose's goons seem to be reasonably racially diverse, while the SPADS is exclusively made out of macho white dudes.
  • 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.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: One of XIII's many gadgets, and a very useful one at that.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: The introduction shows the game's resident sniper rifle as a bolt-action rifle, which is already incorrect (the real gun it's modeled after is semi-auto), but also shows it being cycled in the wrong direction (it starts out open, it gets cycled forward to chamber a bullet, then it gets pulled open again, without ejecting the bullet).
  • Hollywood Silencer: The basic pistol can be equipped with one, which comes in handy in any stealth segment it's available in. Of note is that only the primary gun gets one; Dual Wielding is possible but ill-advised for anyone who wants to remain undetected.
  • 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. Releasing the hostage results in an automatic Neck Snap, which is fine if your hostage was a bad guy, but it really sucks if you grabbed an innocent civilian.
    • 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. No points for what you have to do with that bank employee to get out.
    • 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 to die with a psychotic patient). Unfortunately, her willingness to save your life doesn't make her immune to the neck-snap mechanic.
  • 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.
  • Knife Nut: XIII is extremely proficient with throwing knives, both at range and in melee. Mad doc Johannsen also uses them to great effect against him, intermixed with the occasional sedative syringe.
  • Lead the Target: A must for anyone hoping to get some mileage out of crossbows and throwing knives. Both are very lethal, capable of scoring a One-Hit Kill on anyone without a helmet, and the scoped crossbows are the only silent sniping weapons in the game, but they require some practice (and sometimes a bit of luck) to be truly effective. Averted for regular firearms, however, all of which are hitscan weapons.
  • Left Hanging: The game only adapts the first five volumes of the comic, and sequels never came.
  • Made of Iron: The Mongoose. And not just in the game, but in the comics as well.
  • Majorly Awesome: Major Jones takes a very proactive role in supporting XIII during his mission, saves his bacon a couple times and doesn't shy away from kicking some major ass when the situation demands it.
  • 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.
  • More Dakka: Going Guns Akimbo with submachine guns puts an awesome amount of bullets down-range, enough to shred anything human-sized that isn't a boss in the blink of an eye - if the target is no farther than a few steps away, that is. Otherwise most of the shots will just be hitting scenery. The same is true for the M60 machine gun.
  • Neck Snap: XIII automatically administers one to his hostages when he releases them - even to civilians, including the bank employee you have to take hostage in the third level, and the nurse that willingly offers herself as his hostage to help him escape the asylum, which is pretty strange in light of the game's insistence on not harming innocents. Although since some of the targets let out a groan as they slump to the floor, and since this move doesn't count as a mission-ending kill when used against cops or security guards, they're probably non-lethal.
  • 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, although some of them need to be unlocked (Dual Wielding) or can be improved (sneaking, holding his breath underwater or a scope steady for longer, etc.) by finding top-secret documents hidden throughout the game world.
  • No "Arc" in "Archery": In full effect for crossbow bolts, which always travel in a perfectly straight line, but averted for throwing knives.
  • No Ending: The game adapts the first five volumes of a 19 volume comic so it has a Cliffhanger 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, at least for the first half. The rest devolves into a massive shootout with the guards once XIII gets his hand on some guns.
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: The game is separated into distinct levels, and each level forces you to pass through the same checkpoints, though you can usually diverge a bit from one checkpoint to another.
  • Red Shirt: The lifeguard in the prologue. Bonus points for actually wearing a bright-red swimsuit.
  • Resources Management Gameplay: After you get past the first few levels, the number of medikits you carry is seldom reset, and remains persistent throughout the game. So, if you conserve them early on, you have much more margin for error in the later levels. Alternatively, if you use them all up too quickly, later areas can be much tougher.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The game's .44 Magnum revolver has high accuracy, tremendous damage and a good rate of fire, traits that make it a valuable weapon in just about any situation. One headshot is more than enough to kill any enemy without a helmet. Its secondary mode consists of XIII fanning the hammer, which looks cool and makes awesome noise, but is ultimately just a waste of the gun's rare ammo due to the enormous spread.
  • Shout-Out: One of the SPADS in the first part of Emerald Base 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 SSH1.
  • 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, throwing knife or glass shard.
  • 13 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. Similar for innocent bystanders like bank workers, doctors/nurses, etc.
  • Unique Enemy: While most of the bosses fight like regular enemies with a lot more health and sometimes better guns, Dr. Johanssen has a unique fighting style involving throwing knives as well as grabbing objects in the environment and tossing them at you.


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