Unit 13, a third-person, mission based shooter, has almost everything a SOCOM game should, but does Zipper Interactive’s first and last foray into the world of the Vita complete the mission, or does it come up just short?
Here’s what we liked:
Tight Controls - Even with the small analog sticks, the shooting in Unit 13 actually feels perfect. You use the touchscreen to interact with objects and touch the weapon in the lower right-hand corner to reload. The touchscreen controls are big and easy to touch, unlike the ones in Uncharted: Golden Abyss. The dual-analog sticks, which are big selling points for the Vita, make the game and controls feel more natural. That one extra analog stick does indeed go a long way in shooters.
Gameplay - The shooting in Uncharted: Golden Abyss was the worst thing about that game. That could easily be because the shooting in Uncharted has never been that good to begin with. In Unit 13, the shooting feels much more precise and aiming is easier to do. In fact, shooting while in first-person mode feels more intuitive than third-person shooting. With that said, the gameplay is still solid.
Missions - Unit 13 has 36 solo missions and nine “high value targets” you’ll need to eliminate. In most of the high value target scenarios you’ll be playing on maps you’re pretty familiar with. The only difference between these and the main 36 missions is you have one guy you have to eliminate before you can finish the level. Throughout the solo missions are four different varieties to play through. Direct Action is just trying to finish the level, no time limit or anything. Deadline, on the other hand, is a time based, checkpoint mission type. You have a set amount of time to beat the mission, and upon hitting a checkpoint the timer is extended. Covert highlights the stealth elements of combat. Elite Operations gives you a health bar and once it’s gone, it’s gone. Hitting checkpoints in these missions refills your health meter instead of extending the clock like in Deadline missions.
“Variety is the spice of life”, and even with only four different mission types, Unit 13 manages to stay consistently fun and unique.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
A.I. - Controls and gameplay are fun, but there are times where the A.I. is so unintelligent. It’s never any fun when you’re injured and then the A.I. decides to run to you shooting an unlimited amounts of bullets. Not only that, but there are times when you’ll shoot an enemy and the person standing right next to him never notices. Inconsistent is the best way to describe the A.I. in Unit 13. In some missions they act normal, and in some, they go out of their way to make the game not fun.
No versus multiplayer - Being able to play each mission in co-op is great, but Unit 13 would have been the perfect game for online multiplayer. With the game being just one mission at a time, Zipper might not have thought versus multiplayer fit the game. Adding that in would have made the game more enjoyable with friends, and add more value.
Although Unit 13 was not a launch title, it’s a solid reason to buy a PlayStation Vita early on in the console’s life cycle. Yes, the A.I. is sometimes clueless, but that can be forgiven as it does not occur in every mission. The amount of missions, online co-op, and the actual fluidity of the controls all make Unit 13 a solid third-person shooter. Uncharted: Golden Abyss might have a story, but the actual gameplay in Uncharted is severely lacking when compared to Zipper’s shooter. We think a sequel could have improved on the A.I. and lack of versus multiplayer. It’s a real shame Zipper Interactive won’t be around to make one. Still, Unit 13 is worthy of your time and attention.
Score - Buy It!
Unit 13 was developed by Zipper Interactive and published by Sony Computer Entertainement. It was released on March 6, 2012.