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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, developed and published by Ubisoft, 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 with modernized graphics and slightly tweaked gameplay (such as modern aim-down-sights, a simplified armor system, and a limit on the amount of guns you can carry), but the same levels and campaign, developed by Maltese studio PlayMagic and published by Microids, was announced, complete with a gameplay trailer, and later released on November 10, 2020, coinciding with the month the original was released in.

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


This video game contains examples of:

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  • Adaptation Distillation: The game is loosely adapted from the first eight volumes.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Pretty much every stealth segment has some.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Although the levels are largely linear, checking the many little nooks and crannies off the main path almost always rewards the player with ammo, armor, medkits, a weapon that can't be obtained elsewhere in the level, or sometimes even a document that unlocks a new skill.
  • 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.
  • Anachronism Stew: The game take places in 2003, the year it was released (note the date on the invitation Fly receives to the electoral victory party), but the architecture, fashions, and technology seen all seem more in line with the 1960s period of the Kennedy assassination, of which the game's main plot is a fictionalized version of.
  • Animal Motif: The SPADS, a rogue army division that acts in the dark, strikes from the shadow and spreads terror wherever they go, have a stylized bat in their unit badge.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Throwing a grenade brings up a PiP panel that shows you exactly where it detonated even if you couldn't conceivably see the spot from your current position, allowing you to adjust your aim for the next throw.
    • Segments where killing is forbidden usually have an abundance of chairs, brooms and trays lying around with which to knock out guards.
    • Averted in the Boss Battle against the helicopter gunship. The thing is Immune to Bullets, there's a finite amount of RPG ammo in the area, and if you run out before the helo goes down, you're SOL and have no choice but to restart the segment.
    • For almost the entire game, you can only retrieve weapons, ammunition and armour from corpses: medkits are only ever found lying around, or in medical cabinets. During the Final Boss fight, while you are fighting the Mongoose, Jones dispatches SPADS troops one level up from you, whose bodies fall down into the combat arena. These corpses are generously stocked with both armour and medkits, which you will definitely need.
    • If you cross a checkpoint and you have fewer than 25 Hit Points, if you subsequently die and have to reload that checkpoint, your health will be restored to 25.
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted with a vengeance. Armor effectively doubles the amount of damage both you and your enemies can take. Most SPADS goons wear body armor, making them much more resilient than the Mongoose's unarmored henchmen (an enemy wearing an armored vest can take half a mag of assault rifle fire to the torso before dropping). Many SPADS also wear ballistic helmets that make it impossible to One-Hit Kill them discreetly with the crossbow. Fortunately, XIII can armor up himself, which is practically mandatory to survive the brutal shootouts he's getting into all the time.
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Politics: Walter Sheridan is elected President in 2003 (note the date on the invitation Fly receives to the electoral victory party). US Presidential elections are held every four years on leap years.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The XX Conspiracy Leaders are all capable of taking an inhuman amount of bullets before dying, with most of the major ones able to take over a dozen times more bullets than a regular Mook, requiring some 80-90 rounds to put down. 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.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Going Guns Akimbo is awesome by default, but doing so with Micro-Uzis burns through your ammo stock like a blowtorch while a single Uzi is more than deadly enough to achieve the same effect with half the ammo consumption. Dual Wielding 9mm pistols is even less effective because 1) you can't fire both guns simultaneously due to them being bound to the same button and firing sequentially in a Double Tap way, and 2) only the primary gun is able to mount a suppressor, making a second gun worthless in stealth segments.
    • Fanning the revolver's hammer never gets old but is an epic waste of its rare ammo when a single headshot is all it takes to kill just about anyone who isn't a boss.
  • Back Stab: If you can sneak up behind an enemy or an NPC without them noticing you, a forearm chop will knock them out cold. The various Improvised Weapons will also knock out any non-boss enemy in one hit, even if they have spotted you.
  • Bag of Spilling: Zigzagged. Every location that XIII investigates is divided into multiple levels. Proceeding to the next level of the same location carries over everything in his inventory, but switching to a new location starts him off with a new, preselected loadout that can be completely different from what he had in the last area.
  • Bald of Evil: The SPADS troops make up the majority of the Mooks encountered in the game, many of whom have shaven heads.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: One of the highest-ranking conspirators blows his brains out with a pistol right in front of you to prevent you from beating the identity of Number I out of him.
  • 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.
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: Armor doesn't absorb all of the damage of a bullet, but it absorbs such a high amount that you'll run out of armor well before you run out of health, unless your health is critically low.
  • 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. That said, even 30 damage isn't enough to One-Hit Kill even the most basic Mook, so the pistol takes at least two headshots to kill, which can be mildly annoying in stealth segments.
  • Breakable Weapons: All of the Improvised Weapons (wooden chairs, brooms, empty bottles etc.) break after one use. Curiously, they break regardless of whether they made contact with anything.
  • Building Swing: What the grappling hook is for whenever you're not using it to reach a higher/lower level.
  • Cel Shading: A significant aspect of the game's art-style is the use of cel shading to imitate the comicbook's art, providing the player with a very unique and memorable visual experience for the time, while still being distinct to this day.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: It's rare for missions to have more than one, maybe two checkpoints, and saving manually in between them also doesn't do more than kick you back to the closest previous checkpoint if something goes wrong. Stealth missions suffers the most from this due to how abruptly they can fail if a guard triggers the alarm. Annoyingly, some of these checkpoints are right before long semi-interactive cutscenes that can't be skipped.
  • Cool Boat: Senator Sheridan owns a huge and very spiffy yacht, as evidenced during the Playable Epilogue. It's the same one where XIII got shot and lost his memory because Sheridan is Number I.
  • The Coup: Operation Total Red. It involved bringing SPADS into each military base, declaring martial law, then transferring control over to SPADS. As part of the coup, the president's bodyguards have been replaced by SPADS allowing him to be taken hostage.
  • Crash in Through the Ceiling: Sneaking around leads to an area above an operating room, and the ceiling panels collapse. "Number XIII, the Doctor will see you now."
  • Crazy-Prepared: One character always keeps a gun at hand in her hunting cabin. This Is Not That Trope. That this gun is not a handgun or rifle but an M60 machine gun with enough ammo to mow down a company or two, however, certainly is.
  • 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.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: Once XIII has cleared his name, the FBI supports him on his next mission, complete with the cutscene showing police snipers and armored SWAT teams with ballistic shields ready to go. The agents that actually appear in the mission wear no armor whatsoever, drop like flies and conspicuously disappear right before the two Boss Battles in the area begin.
  • 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.
    • Removed in the 2020 remake, among other things.
  • Depraved Dentist: Dr. Johansson, 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. You're generally given more stealth options when going up against them compared to the Mongoose's goons, to compensate for their increased lethality.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The Mongoose's goons seem to be reasonably racially diverse, while the SPADS is exclusively made out of macho white dudes. Given the conspiracy's not-so-subtle fascist bent, the latter is hardly surprising.
  • Escort Mission:
    • Escorting Carrington out of Emerald Base. It's not as bad as it seems, but Carrington still has low health and no weaponnote .
    • One of the final missions has you carrying the POTUS to safety after the conspiracy launches their coup (he fainted from the stress). He naturally can't get himself into trouble this way, but the path forward regularly spawns SPADS goons that you can only defend against with the 9mm pistol until you've put down your cargo, and woe betide you if the enemy decides to throw a grenade.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Whenever the player character dies in the game, the game over screen reads "XIII has been killed". This is unusual given that the player character learns partway through the game that he isn't actually XIII, but rather an impostor who has undergone cosmetic surgery to resemble him.
  • 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".
  • Exact Time to Failure: The Very Definitely Final Dungeon gives you 120 seconds to complete its first objective before the Conspiracy does nasty things with the 2,000 megatons of nukes in the bunker. That something like this has a precise timer is justified, but the base computer never mentions the sequence's progress, so XIII has no obvious way of knowing how much time he has left.
  • Expository Gameplay Limitation: In the flashbacks, the player character can generally do little more than walk, look around and open doors.
  • Eyepatch of Power: How the one-eyed General Standwell is a perfect shot with the least accurate gun in the game is beyond us.
  • Flashback Effects: Flashbacks are Deliberately Monochrome, overexposed and use copious blurring
  • Gangsta Style: The Mongoose holds his .44 Magnum like this in the flashback cutscenes of his murder of Steve Rowland. A weird example since he's a highly professional and effective assassin, so you'd expect him to refrain from doing this.
  • 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.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: XIII can use empty beer bottles to knock out enemies or NPCs without killing them (see Improvised Weapon).
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy:
    • The level layout often has weird effects on enemy AI behavior. If a hostile is patrolling in a separate building, even when it's just a military prefab shack made of thin sheet metal, they generally don't react to anything that happens outside the building. You can dispense buckshot and toss grenades like they're going out of style without the guy in the shack letting this minor detail distract him from his patrol duty.
    • Missions that fail when an alarm is triggered really only fail when an alarm is triggered. You can get into massive shootouts with the guards as much as you want; as long as none of them hits one of these blinky red buttons on the walls, you're golden. The abovementioned bad hearing of all guards also works in this case, with folks only reacting to assault rifle fire in a radius of about ten meters.
    • Taken to extremes with the 2020 remake as mentioned earlier, the enemy AI is incredibly stupid and feels to be a stepback from the AI of 2003.
  • Guide Dang It!: The final level gives you 120 seconds to stop the countdown, but at no point does it even suggest how you're supposed to do that. Unlike how the game normally handles stuff like that, there's no Big Red Button to hit even in the control room. You need to destroy a bunch of servers in a locked side room by shooting them through the impassable security gate, but good luck finding this out on your own because not only are the things quite durable, making it easy to think that you're just wasting ammo, but one of the servers is very easy to overlook because it's almost completely hidden behind another one. You've also never been required to do something similar in the entire rest of the game, and the time frame is so tight that you'll be down to the last ten seconds or less even if you know exactly what to do. First-time players are virtually guaranteed to restart this level a couple of times or look up the solution online.
  • 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).
  • Harpoon Gun: Crops up late in the submarine levels. Completely useless on land, but a One-Hit Kill against the frogmen you encounter near the very end of it.
  • Hedge Maze: One late-game stealth mission is set in one that's crawling with mooks. Thankfully, XIII can hear the enemies' footsteps through the hedges, and the maze itself is easy to traverse.
  • Hero Antagonist: The FBI under their leader Col. Amos has every reason to single out XIII as their prime suspect in the assassination of President Sheridan. He didn't do it but they're in his way to stop The Conspiracy, leaving him no choice but to oppose them for a while, although he takes pains to only use non-lethal takedowns against their agents.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Grenades can be cooked (you're even given a precise timer for the fuse), but if you wait too long, well... It's also quite easy to get caught in the blast radius of your own explosive ordnance, with painful results.
  • 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; even more so when said civilian offered themselves up voluntarily to save your hide.
    • 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 Johansson (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. Fortunately, the next level's intro shows her alive and well, proving that the neck snap is non-fatal (and at least partially non-canonical).
  • I Have Your Wife: Soon after Kim Rowland (previously Number XVII) has done her part to foil the conspiracy's plans, they take her infant son hostage to use as leverage. You can hear her begging for his freedom in the Playable Epilogue.
  • 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.
  • Improvised Weapon: You can pick up wooden chairs, brooms, empty bottles and so on to use as melee weapons. All of these are one-use only and can be used to knock out enemies or NPCs without killing them (with the exception of the shards of broken glass, which are lethal).
  • Indecisive Medium: The main gimmick of the game is that it's like a comic book.
  • Injured Player Character Stage: The game starts with one, courtesy of your character escaping a boat in a hail of gunfire and waking up wounded on a beach. You start out with only 50% of your maximum health, your vision is seriously blurry, and you can only walk at a snail's pace. Most of these impairments except the low health are gone by the time you need to defend yourself, though, and there's a bunch of first-aid kits in the area to fix your health problem, too.
  • Interface Screw: Being hit throws off your aim, making it difficult to retaliate especially against enemies armed with automatic weapons. It gets even worse when something explodes nearby, which shakes the entire screen so badly that fighting back becomes pretty much impossible while the effect lasts.
  • Intoxication Mechanic: In the boss fight against Johansson, getting stabbed with a sedative syringe will cause XIII to drop his current weapon and the screen to go wibbly-wobbly with a green filter for a few seconds.
  • 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.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: While trying to escape the FBI building early in the game, interacting with the many PC monitors in the offices activates a screensaver that shows the logo of Ubisoft, the studio that made the game.
  • Leave No Survivors: Turns out the SPADS had orders to neutralize, not massacre, the GIs at Emerald Base, for which General Standwell tears the SPADS' commanding officer, Col. MacCall, a new one. He then reluctantly accepts that it's too late to change anything about it and orders MacCall to finish the job and make sure there are no witnesses. MacCall is all too happy to oblige.
  • 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. The other bosses count as well, with humans routinely soaking up several magazines' worth of bullets and a helicopter gunship tanking half a dozen direct hits from anti-tank rockets without going down.
  • 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.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: When the XXnote  meet in person, they do so clad in white KKK robes, complete with their characteristic pointy hoods. It works so well in keep them anonymous that you don't learn their true identities until after the FBI IDs their dead bodies in the wake of XIII crashing their meeting.
  • Monster Closet: Some levels have enemies suddenly appearing from tiny rooms that have no other exit and often not even something in them, making you wonder what they were doing in there. The final section of the submarine level is particularly bad about this.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Johansson, 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.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Every single one of the XX is a specialist in a position of power, often at the very top of society, industry, finances or the military... except for Number XVII (Kim Rowland), whose job is listed as "Rowland's wife".
  • 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. There's also the nurse in the insane asylum who, even if you neck-snapped her during your escape, shows up at the start of the next level none the worse for wear, further proving its non-lethality.
  • 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.
    • The final mission also starts you off completely unarmed since you're undercover in one of the US' most secure military installations. You then collect a bunch of gunsnote  during the following stealth segments until you can finally let loose on the SPADS once more.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: One of your available weapons is a massive RPG launcher. You encounter precisely one enemy that warrants the deployment of such a weapon (a heavily armored helicopter gunship). The hundreds of others are squishy humans that can be taken down with two or three bullets to the face at most, but nothing's stopping you from turning your RPG on them even so. Needless to say it's a One-Hit Kill weapon against anything that isn't a boss.
  • 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.
  • Notice This: Important objects tend to be highlighted with a white box, even a key possessed by a guard. In one case (Plain Rock Canyon), an enemy ambusher is marked by a red box.
  • One-Man Army: Although he does have backup a few times, by the end of the game, XIII has taken on a heavily armed mercenary force, a fully staffed US Navy submarine and an entire Special Forces division of the US military almost completely on his own, wiped out most of them and lived to tell the tale.
  • Playable Epilogue: The final level is set aboard newly elected President Walter Sheridan's yacht where he's celebrating his election victory. No combat takes place, but it does reveal who Number I is and then ends on the now infamous Cliffhanger to a sequel that never came.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: The Conspiracy of XX seek to install a totalitarian regime with heavily fascist undertones, they meet wearing KKK robes, and at least some of them are openly racistnote .
  • Pragmatic Villainy: While infiltrating Emerald Base in the frozen Appalachian Mountains, XIII can overhear a SPADS goon advising his buddy to put off disposing of the dead US Army soldiers because they'll be easier to move once frozen solid.
  • Properly Paranoid: Played With during the Playable Epilogue on Walter Sheridan's yacht when someone launches a fireworks barrage near the bow. Col. Amos and Gen. Carrington react to the sudden noise by immediately drawing their sidearms, but considering how deep the conspiracy was was enmeshed in high society, who would blame them for suspecting yet another attack? There really are conspiracy forces aboard, led by Number I himself, but they don't know that at this point.
  • Recycled Premise: A man aboard a yacht gets repeatedly shot and falls into the sea. Upon awakening, he finds he has lost his memory, and the only item in his possession is a device which gives him access to a safety deposit box in a high-security bank. He later learns that he has been implicated in an assassination attempt, has combat skills consistent with those of a secret agent and once underwent plastic surgery to change his facial appearance. Oh, and his first name is "Jason". The original Belgian comic was hardly discreet about being heavily influenced by The Bourne Identity. The video game adaptation, meanwhile, came out just one year after the second attempt at a cinematic adaptation of the novel in question.
  • Red Shirt: Jane, the lifeguard in the prologue who pulls an unconscious XIII out of the ocean and gets gunned down for her troubles minutes later. Bonus points for actually wearing a bright-red swimsuit. Also falls under Disposable Woman and No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
  • Red Shirt Army:
    • The US Army's sole role in the game is to die by the truckload at the hands of their traitorous SPADS comrades. While moving through their bases after SPADS conquered them, you'll come across dozens of dead Army grunts but not a single dead SPADS who wasn't killed by you (although this can be justified by the Army being caught with their pants down when they were attacked by soldiers they believed to be their allies).
    • Same goes for the FBI agents whenever they go up against someone who isn't XIII.
  • 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.
  • Saying Sound Effects Out Loud: One of the game's unique graphical quirks is that most sounds are also displayed in text form where they originated. Walking characters bring up *Tap, Tap, Tap* hints on-screen with every step they take (very useful for tracking them through obstacles), explosions trigger a huge *BOOM!*, a falling ski lift hits the ground with a big *CRASH!*, and so on.
  • Secondary Fire: All weapons either have this (suppressor, scope, Grenade Launcher, what have you) or an alternate firing mode, like the revolver's fan fire or the M60's three-round burst. However, special mention goes to the RPG for having... cluster warheads? Homing missiles? Nope - XIII just grabs a rocket by its shaft and bonks the enemy over the head with its bulky warhead. Yes, your rocket launcher's alt-fire turns it into a melee weapon.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Maj. Jones switches her military uniform for a gorgeous white robe with Absolute Cleavage and nothing at all to cover her back for Senator Sheridan's election party in the Playable Epilogue. XIII barely reacts to it, much to her chagrin, but another party guest does... much to her chagrin.
  • 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!"
  • Sigil Spam: The Conspiracy's swastika-like symbol is everywhere, making you wonder how they've managed to remain secret for so long.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The Conspiracy consists of 18 men and only two women, and with one of the latter betraying them before the game even begins, the trope is active in full force.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: SPADS soldiers are way too eager to slaughter their former US Army comrades, even obviously unarmed ones that're trying to surrender, and they seem to be having the time of their lives while they're at it. The US President later insinuates that most of them are criminal scum recruited by Col. MacCall.
  • 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.
  • Sunglasses at Night: SPADS Col. MacCall always wears a pair of shades, even during his nightly Boss Battle. A conversation between SPADS goons you can overhear earlier mentions that it's a consequence of an unspecified mission/accident in MacCall's past.
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: A few levels start you off right next to an armory full of guns, ammo, medkits and armor. You'll need it.
  • 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 fails if you don't complete the objective within 120 seconds.
  • Unique Enemy:
    • While most of the bosses fight like regular enemies with a lot more health and sometimes better guns, Dr. Johansson has a unique fighting style involving throwing knives and sedative syringes, as well as grabbing objects in the environment and tossing them at you.
    • In the first level, amongst the various Mongoose goons there's a guy wearing a recycling t-shirt who fights with throwing knives. He's the only such enemy in the entire game.
    • In the penitentiary level, a single escaped inmate armed with a pistol comes out of nowhere in a vent area and ambushes you. His presence is foreshadowed by a dead, disarmed guard in an area you haven't been through yet.
    • The final stretch of the submarine mission is the only instance in the game where you face Navy frogmen. Harpoon Gun spam ensues.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Pretty much every member of the XX Conspiracy.
  • Villainous Valor: With the exception of number II, who shoots himself in the head rather than face arrest, not one of the XX goes down without a fight, despite only a few of them having combat training and most being wealthy bankers, politicians and industrialists. Say what you will about the bastards, but they've got balls and an indomitable will to fight for their cause.
  • Vocal Dissonance: XIII is a badass career soldier with decades of combat experience, a Lantern Jaw of Justice and a general action hero look to him. David Duchovny, who voices XIII, is... none of these things, and his voice reflects it, which creates a rather jarring contrast between what XIII looks like and how he talks.
  • Would Hit a Girl: XIII can take female bystanders hostage, and when he has no further use for them, he knocks them out by twisting their necks.
  • 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 sneak past them, or knock them unconcious with a Tap on the Head. Similar for innocent bystanders like bank workers, doctors/nurses, etc. Note that releasing the hostage does a Neck Snap animation, yet is still somehow considered non-lethal for purposes of that restriction.

    The remake 

  • Adaptational Badass: In the Remake, the minor bosses (notably Winslow and Willard) have health on par with the more major boss fights and take longer to kill, whereas in the original they were more like mini-boss fights and had noticeably less health than the more major bosses like Colonel McCall and General Standwell. In fact in the original game Winslow could be killed with just a handful of magnum headshots or about 13 magnum torso shots, whereas in the remake it takes about 28+ magnum shots to kill him.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Due to the introduction of the new, Boss in Mook's Clothing Heavily Armored Mook enemy type, the regular SPADS soldiers no longer wear body armor and are easier to gun down.
    • The bosses in general have less health and do less damage than they did in the original game, though they have been buffed somewhat by recent patches.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Unlike the original, where mandatory stealth missions would fail instantly the moment an enemy spotted you, in the remake they actually have to run to an alarm button and trigger it, giving you time to kill them to stop this.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The A.I. in the remake is noted as being significantly worse than even the 17-year old original game. The original game's A.I. wasn't amazing, but enemies at least were smart enough to evade, retreat, take cover, set up ambush/overwatch positions, etc. In the remake, the A.I. either strafes back and forth mindlessly or charges your position mindlessly, and sometimes will break entirely and just stand still doing nothing. Overall the original game's A.I. may have been a bit scripted at times but it at least took actions that made sense.
  • Art-Shifted Sequel: The character designs in the remake are closer to that of the original comics, whereas in the original game certain changes had to be made to account for the limitations of the older engine and hardware (most notably, the famous limitation of sixth generation consoles when it came to rendering hair).
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The M60 has been given massive recoil in the remake, making it a lot harder to handle than in the original game. Given how much the assault rifle has been buffed in the remake, and how the M60 uses up your special weapon slot that could be filled with a crossbow or sniper rifle instead, there's actually not much reason to use it now.
    • The revolver's "fanning the hammer" secondary fire now automatically fires all 6 of your rounds, which is way overkill against anything less than a Boss or a Heavy.
  • Bag of Spilling: Taken to an extreme. Manual saves save your mission progress, but not your inventory, so reloading from a manual save causes you to lose all your weapons, ammo, and medkits, giving you only a bare minimum loadout equal to what you'd receive if you selected a mission from the mission select menu.
  • Body Armor as Hit Points: Played straight in the Remake, which uses a much more simplified armor system where not only is body armor simply a second health bar, but it also does away with the original's separate armor for the head and torso, instead using a single generic armor bar.
  • Cel Shading: Averted painfully in the 2020 remake; the art style is a more generic 3D shooter visual. This has been rightfully criticized by fans and critics for making it look cheap, "Free Asset Flip Edition" being used among the community of die-hard XIII fans.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: The remake attempts to alleviate this with somewhat more frequent usage of checkpoints.
  • Contractual Boss Immunity: Unlike the original, in the remake bosses don't take extra damage from headshots, though multiple headshots do stun them for a few seconds and leave them open to being shot up.
  • Disney Villain Death: Averted with the Mongoose, who instead of falling down a missile shaft like in the original, simply keels over dead like any other enemy when his health runs out.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: In the 2020 remake a number of these exist when it comes to NPC behaviours, escort missions are problematic, but notoriously the prison guards who you're meant to follow to avoid being hit with batons, will instead get stuck in doorways, face you and beat you for not following them, preventing you from progressing or do anything as they lay into you.
    • The sound and music is prone to stuttering, popping, crackling, and ear-stabbing bursts of static.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The game doesn't mark keycard locations with comic notifications like it did in the original, so finding keycards can be a real pain unless you remember where they are from playing the original.
    • The game tells you how to climb up ladders, but never tells you how to climb down them, which is pretty important because otherwise you just fall to your doom as you don't automatically grab them (you need to press "jump" while facing the ladder as you're falling to your doom).
    • Knocking out the vending machine guard outside President Galbrain's room causes the mission to fail instantly, but you need to knock him out to progress the game. What you're supposed to do is take him hostage and drag him to the toilets to knock him out, which is completely unintuitive (in the original game he'd walk to the toilets himself after a while, cluing you in that he could be knocked out in there).
  • Heavily Armored Mook: The remake has a semi-new enemy type in the form of a SPADS soldier with Captain Price's moustache, wearing body armor and wielding an M60 machine gun while casually striding around instead of running. They're somewhat tougher than the armored SPADS soldiers from the original game and can take a decent amount of damage before dropping, requiring almost a full mag of assault rifle fire to the torso to bring down. As a result, they're noticeably rarer than the armored soldiers from the original game, with only about 5 of them appearing throughout the game, being more of a Boss in Mook's Clothing enemy type. The first one you fight even gets a comic panel intro that wasn't in the original game. They can also be killed quite quickly by shooting them in their unarmored legs.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: XIII has a pretty pronounced one in the remake, whereas in the original he had a more angular face.
  • Mighty Glacier: The helicopter boss has almost twice as much health as it did in the original game, but it also can't dodge your rockets like it could in the original game.
  • Never-Forgotten Skill: Unlike the original game, where you gradually unlocked XIII's advanced skills as you progressed through the game, the remake does away with all that and just starts you out with all of your skills unlocked.
  • Obvious Beta: The remake was released with numerous bugs and glitches, ranging from braindead A.I. to shoddy and broken animations. The dev team have released a statement indicating the COVID-19 Pandemic had negatively affected their progress on the game, forcing them to release it in an unacceptable state, and have promised to address the many issues the game has.
  • Regenerating Health: The remake adds partial health regeneration, where if your health drops below a certain amount (50 on normal difficulty) it will regenerate up to that amount after several seconds.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Noticeably averted, unlike the original. The shotguns (particularly the double barrel shotgun) now have a much longer range, especially if you aim down sights. The pump-action shotgun has a one-shot kill range of about 20-25 feet (which is fairly standard for an FPS), while the double-barrel shotgun's is over 50 feet.
  • Shot-for-Shot Remake: Even though the remake was rebuilt from the ground up, it attempts to faithfully recreate the original game's level layout and game flow, unlike some remakes like Tomb Raider: Anniversary, Black Mesa, or the recent Resident Evil remakes which are more of a re-imagining of the original game. However, it makes fairly major changes in other areas, such as adding ironsights, limiting your inventory, changing the health/armor system, adding partial regenerating health, etc. Changes to the foundational systems also result in wonky behavior such as braindead A.I. and bizarre death animations.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Likely due to a programming oversight, one of the SPADS guards in the Total Red operations room drops the keycard that Wax is supposed to drop, opening the path to the next level. As a result, you can just skip to the next level and leave Wax stewing in his control room, rather than confronting him and triggering his suicide.
  • Take Your Time: During the mission in the submarine base, as the SPADS prepare to launch the submarine, a SPADS trooper makes repeated announcements over the intercom ("All hands to missile deck in five minutes" etc.). None of these have any bearing on when the submarine actually leaves the base.
  • Unique Enemy: The enemy scuba divers are even rarer than they were in the original game, with you only encountering a couple of them in the area where you fight them. This was likely done because their combat A.I. is clearly not finished, and is still barely functional even after multiple fix patches.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Due to what is likely poor scripting, you can actually save one of the FBI agents engaged in a shootout with the Mongoose's men during the Mongoose's raid on the FBI headquarters. Said FBI agent thanks you by shoot at you as well, and since there are no takedown items in the area where you encounter him there's no way to take him out non-lethally, forcing you run past him and take damage.