reviews\ Mar 6, 2012 at 9:00 am

Unit 13 Review (PS Vita)


Sometimes when you’re playing an action game, you don’t want to be sidetracked by the lame story.  You just want to jump in and start killing your enemies.  It’s a visceral reaction, and a pretty common one at that.  I have a feeling Zipper Interactive recognizes this, and, to sort of make up for the somewhat average SOCOM 4 last year, it’s produced a huge action opus for PlayStation Vita owners with Unit 13.  What it lacks in genuine story, it more than makes up for with plenty of “bang bang” and guys falling over dead.  And for some people, that’s all that counts.

The game takes place across 36 separated missions, each with certain objectives that need to be met.  You get to choose from six various soldiers, each specialists in certain fields, and choose their loadout.  From there, you’ll hit the battlefield and try to complete each mission either with the fastest time or the highest score.

Despite the fact that the missions aren’t fully structured together, Zipper Interactive makes them click with a good amount of depth.  There’s more than one way to approach your objectives in the game, and choosing a different operative can definitely add challenge to it.  For instance, if a mission calls upon someone for stealth and you instead go with an explosives expert, not only will that change up your approach, but it will also bump up the intensity.  How you play is totally your call, and it’s excellent o have that freedom of choice.

What’s more, Unit 13 gives you the option to go at it with a friend in co-op.  The integration over PlayStation Network is splendid, and we didn’t have a single session drop out on us from what we tried.  Granted, some of the players didn’t exactly have the best skill set, but that’s hardly the game’s fault.

In addition to co-op, PlayStation Network also supports online leaderboards, so you can see how you compare to fellow players.  Zipper Interactive will also be introducing new daily missions for players to tackle, so they have a fresh slate to work off of when it comes to getting the best score possible.  This easily pushes the replay value up several notches.

Though Unit 13 doesn’t have large levels to its advantage (they’re “bite-sized” compared to other games like SOCOM 4 and Killzone 3), they are wonderfully detailed, and being able to choose your own route – rather than being stuck on a default path – is a great idea.  The display provides a helpful mini-map to guide you as well, should you get lost.  The in-game action is pretty damn good for the Vita, complete with thunderous explosions that rock the screen, great precision aiming through your iron sights, and solid animation.  So when you shoot an enemy in the head, they tumble to the ground convincingly, rather than just slumping over in one shot.  The frame rate drops from time to time, but never to the point that the game’s performance is faulted.

As for sound, it’s not so hot, but serviceable.  The in-game voicework is plain at times, particularly when your female commander is giving your orders in an unconvincing tone.  Still, it’s okay for this sort of game, and the machine guns and bits and pieces of machismo-powered music fit the bill.

As for how the game plays, it provides the Vita with its first fully appreciative action experience.  The dual analog sticks work very well when it comes to maneuvering in and out of cover and shooting baddies, and the front touch screen handles properly when it comes to interacting with in-game devices or selecting weapons, without your fingers getting too much in the way.  The rear touch pad is barely used, save for deciding which shoulder you want to peer over, but it’s hardly a bother.

No, it’s not the equivalent of bigger and more intricately designed action games, but Unit 13 is the perfect way to kick-start the Vita’s action library, with plenty of shoot-em-up fun in the kind of layout that gamers can truly appreciate.  The leaderboards will keep you busy for months at a time, and being able to call upon friends to join you in the firefight is a huge plus.  But be ready for a battle.  Once the daily challenges kick in, as the Sony commercial states, it’ll definitely be a “gamechanger”. 


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