While other games such as Resistance and Uncharted aspire to
compress a console game into the handheld experience, Unit 13 - developed by
SOCOM developer Zipper Interactive - is doing the exact opposite. Instead of
aiming for heavy narrative, Unit 13 is trying to be the perfect game for, say,
playing while you wait for an oil change.
The game offers both single player and co-op and stretches
across 36 missions. You are given the choice of playing with one of six
different operatives, all with their own unique skills and abilities. For
example, one is more focused on stealth, while the other is great with
explosives. Choosing a certain operative for a mission may make the game harder
or easier depending on how much of a challenge the player wants.
Above: Zipper's SOCOM roots are definitely showing
Based on an estimated 10 hours of campaign, it’s not the
longest game you’ll play on Sony’s upcoming handheld, but the ability to pick
up a mission (varying between three and 20 minutes in length) and burn through
it based on your limited time is a satisfying feature.
Above: The shooter in action (inside a small Vita screen, of course)
Shortness in length definitely doesn’t mean shortcomings in
gameplay, since Unit 13’s got plenty of options to make your loadout
impressive. It features 30 weapons, seven projectiles and over a dozen weapon
attachments. This combined with the fact that each operative can level up ten
levels and you have a game with some meat on its bones. The game includes a
Bulletstorm-esque in-game scoring system to help you keep track of your
progress. Multiple headshots in a row will result in more points and so on.
But where Unit 13 really aims for greatness is as a social
game. Zipper hopes that the leaderboards for the game will become highly
competitive. In fact, they’re banking on it with many online-centric features.
For example, every day the team plans to release a unique mission that everyone
can only play once in an effort to create an even playing field. It’s a method
of telling if you’re good enough to top the leaderboards, since those who rank
highly, even without playing those extra stages, really are the cream of the
crop. Another planned feature is a notification that lets you know when a
friend has beaten your score so you can race to put him back in his place.
Above: Taking advantage of all of the Vita's features should make for a good time
Unit 13 utilizes both the front and back touchpads, both in
methods major and minor, to take advantage of the nascent hardware’s abilities.
The front touchscreen can be used for weapon selection, throwing a grenade or
pulling up an interactive tactical map - which is wonderful if you typically
struggle with in-game maps; apparently touchscreens are the solution. The back
touchpad is less utilized, and can be used to switch which shoulder you’re
shooting over. A minor capability, we know, but it offers a world of
As one of the first shooters available on the Vita, Unit 13
is a very promising title. We certainly wouldn’t call it life-changing, but it
is unique in its efforts to provide a quicker, more concentrated experience in
a shooter for the upcoming handheld.