I’ve been interested in Unit 13 since the day it was announced, and that having a third-person shooter, featuring different team members and abilities, would have been great on the PlayStation Vita–a handheld device. The title was also developer Zipper Interactive’s (the developer of the SOCOM titles, which was often met with mixed reception) last videogame release. Was Unit 13 yet another average release to add to Zipper’s repertoire, or did it finally break the developer’s recent mold?
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Zipper Interactive
Genre: Action//Third-Person Shooter
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Release Date: March 6th, 2012 (NA); March 7th, 2012 (EU); March 8th, 2012 (JP)
Rating: 16 (PEGI)
The player takes control of a soldier in the special forces Unit 13. Instead of playing a generic all-round soldier, the title offers the player a choice of playing a select number of classes which can be chosen before each of the thirty-six missions in the standard campaign. Each mission rewards the player with experience, allowing each team member (read: class) level up, obtaining new equipment. The beauty of the game is that each class is entirely what they would be expected to be, and they are clear in what their functions are. Furthermore, each class has their own role in a mission, allowing different approaches to the mission.
Infiltrators are the standard stealth class. Players must sneak around the field, whilst killing as few enemies as possible–killing enemies results in a lower final score. Additionally, infiltrators can destroy cameras, deactivate alarms and can take advantage of smoke grenades. Alternatively, players can assume the role of the unit’s Gunner class to enjoy massacring their foes, allowing the player to storm the field and unleash pure, brutal carnage. In total, there are six available classes: Commando, Technician, Pointman, Gunner, Infiltrator, and Marksman.
Unit 13 isn’t limited to the thirty-six campaign missions either, as players may also participate in the High Value Target missions; each of these missions are ranked out of five stars. These missions are also typically more challenging than the campaign without losing the enjoyment. Unfortunately, players looking for further challenge from either mission sets will be disappointed, as there are no difficulty options available; instead, missions generally just get more challenging as the player progresses and that is that.
As a launch title for the PlayStation Vita, Unit 13 would have been expected to attempt using the various hardware features of the handheld (such as the touch screens and SIXAXIS). Fortunately, the title uses these features sparingly. The player can touch the screen to reload their weapons but may also use one of the Vita’s face buttons if preferred, opting to implement a less intrusive means of adapting the touchscreen. Meanwhile, the motion control and rear touchscreen aren’t even used at all. Unit 13 handles the hardware with class.
Although, as a launch title, it would have been preferable had the title also taken advantage of the Vita’s ability to render high quality graphics, instead looking a little average. It’s also a bit odd watching someone get blown up with absolutely no blood effects. Despite the plain visuals, the soundtrack paints a better picture and often further intensifies the gameplay.
Regrettably, the biggest disappointment in Unit 13 isn’t even a fault in its performance or quality, but rather in its lack of community. Whether this is a result of its popularity or low platform sales, this reviewer found absolutely no one to participate in an online match with. It’s a shame, because it would have been interesting to see how well the title handles its multiplayer cooperation mechanics.
Unit 13 was a pretty good game, for what it’s worth. The soundtrack was good and, even though the multiplayer was non-existant, the gameplay was solid and well refined. Certainly, the PlayStation Vita could do with some more titles like this, and it is a shame that the development studio closed some time after launch.