We knew there was a reason we should have been paying attention in French class during our GCSE days, and the just-released French XIII demo is probably it. Upon streaming the game down via the irritating applet interface (also French) we found ourselves struggling to reconfigure the controls to a normal person's (normal as in not French... just kidding!) WSAD layout, but anyone out there with an ounce of common sense and only the teeniest of French knowledge should be able to figure out what's going on. We wish the same could be said for the storyline and mission objectives though.
The demo features two levels: a small marina location and some kind of military facility. The first had us a bit confused as we attempted to figure out exactly what it was that we were supposed to be doing, why this helicopter was shooting at us, and what on earth we were supposed to put this key we just found into. After a while of to-ing and fro-ing and marvelling at the brilliant little comic book frame pop-ups that appeared whenever we tossed a throwing knife into some chaps face, or brought someone tumbling down from their perch, we got a bit annoyed and pressed Escape.
The second map was a lot more straightforward, despite being as hard as nails. Sneaking into a facility via some ventilation ducts (not that old chestnut!), we proceeded to open an office door and slyly snipe a crossbow dart through some hapless soul's neck, then run down the hall picking off the rest of the guards with automatic fire, all the while old school Batman-style "ARGHHH!" and "TAT TAT TAT!" visuals appeared out of thin air. It made us grin. The bit we got stuck on had us dangling from a grappling hook while attempting to avoid vicious electrical sparks and make an entrance into the room below without getting murdered. We failed many times, so decided to tell you about it instead.
What manages to transcend the language barrier is the quite palpable sense of cool that oozes from the game, mostly thanks to the cel-shaded coating which enforces the title's comic book roots. Once you work out how to bump up the resolution, the game still runs smoothly and looks just lovely. We took a few shots for you which would have graced this very article, but sadly despite our best efforts, the captures kept leaving out the brilliant comic book overlays and we couldn't understand why - another one to add to our list of Reasons Why We Hate Technology.
So then, if you fancy attempting to decipher the French instructions and letting them install all sorts of funny apps and things on your computer all in aid of giving XIII a vague once-over, then be our guest. It's about 100MB.