Game play - 7.5
Presentation - 7.5
Story / Creativity - 6
Lifespan - 6.5
Unit 13 is a pretty solid shooter that not only allows players to play the game at their own pace but also play cooperatively with friends on multiple levels of difficulty that make long distance coop sessions pretty entertaining even if just for ten minutes. Sure there isn’t a plot, but Unit 13 allows us to sit in bed and just waste some bad guys before bedtime without need to having a reason.
Zipper Interactive used to be a studio you could look up to. Not only were they the pioneers of the popular SOCOM franchise but they also attempted to break the online competitive gaming world with ambitious titles like MAG. Now a closed studio, did their final entry known as Unit 13 leave a legacy worth being proud of?
Unit 13 is just like the Special Operations Command games we have come to love (and sometimes hate). You play as a 13 unique special forces operatives who basically need to rid the world of evil terrorist villainy, while getting the best grade possible per mission. Who knew saving the world could be so testing.
The game plays like your everyday third person shooter with over the shoulder camera and big gun that shoots dangerous things from the pointy end. Not only does this hand held actioner sport a fully working cover system but it surprisingly gives you the feeling that you are playing a console shooter in the palm of your hands.
Zipper did a wonderful job combining the Vita’s touch interface with the system’s already implemented button functions that make dispatching terrorists as easy as cutting some paper with scissors. Interacting with the game is simple. You can disarm bombs and collect objectives by pressing the action button on the screen, along with pressing your gun icon to reload and swiping it to change weapons. The top trigger buttons allow you to aim and shoot and for more accurate ACOG or scope aiming, you simply press the cross hair icon on the screen as well. As I mentioned this is all pretty simple and easy to do on the fly. The nicely designed and responsive interface feels fluid to use and best of all it won’t have you scrambling around trying to press the right buttons while in the thick of battle. It simply works.
While Unit 13 doesn’t actually have any kind of narrative to lead you through the numerous levels and challenges, the fact that you can simply pick up your Vita and pick a mission that generally lasts 10 to 30 minutes tops means that you never have to worry about leaving the game alone for long periods of time and missing out on story. Missions basically consist of wiping out a level’s horde of enemies as fast as possible, assassinating a target, collecting an objective without being spotted, and many more.
To complete these missions you use your thirteen readily available operatives to clear each mission as you so please. Each soldier comes with his own set of weapons and stat benefits that make different types of missions more catered to each different soldier. This is pretty good as Unit 13 will have you playing as each soldier a number of times, leaving no character left unused and bringing in variety to the challenge if you decide to use a different operative for a level.
After completing a mission you will be brought to the mentioned ranking screen that awards you on certain aspects of your performance like kills, stealth, alerts, damage taken and timing. All this criteria than brings you your overall performance score of a five star system. The number of stars you gain then converts to how much experience your operative makes and helps him level up through his 10 level upgrade tree that gives him new weapons, attachments and ability buffs.
If you find getting a good rating too tricky then you can also play any of the missions with a friend too. Unit 13’s cooperative mode also plays surprisingly well, with no lag or technical hitches whatsoever. Not only that but thanks to the Vita’s built in microphone you can communicate tactically with your partner on the fly without the need for a headset.
While this may sound all dandy there are one or two problems that can come up during your outings into the world of counter terrorism. First of all you are going to learn pretty quickly that the AI is pretty…stupid. This generally involves enemies that either stand out in open ground without taking cover, rush you while holding their trigger finger down or mixing having eye balls in the back of their heads during stealth missions, or just being as blind as a bat as you walk right into their face without much as a word. Not only that but exploding objects like mines and C4 have a tendency to explode even when you are defusing them, which can sometimes earn you an unjustified death and having you restart the entire mission all over again.
To bring things back into the positive though, it should be noted that Unit 13 is a rather nice looking game. Sure it isn’t anything booming with special effects or anything, but Unit 13 sports some nicely done character textures for the main group of guys and some welcoming environments. It is a shame though that these environments will be visited multiples times though as Unit 13’s missions consist of you returning the previous locations without any real explanation why. Laziness maybe?