GAME NAME: Unit 13
DEVELOPER(S): Zipper Interactive
PLATFORM(S): PS Vita
RELEASE DATE(S): 7 March 2012
Our review for Unit 13 was hard to write for one single reason. There isn’t much from this third-person tactical shooter that really stands out. In fact the only thing that stands out at all is how unremarkable it is. Unit 13 comes from the studio (now defunct) that gave us the SOCOM titles so there are no complaints on the technical side of the equation but there is no real liveliness in this PS Vita title.
Players are given control of a set of interchangeable operatives – none of whom you’ll care about – and sent off on a series of objectives. There’s no storyline to contend with, just players out to stop whatever it is they have been sent to stop. Since you’re supposed to be the good guy everyone else is bad by default but your motivation for taking out terrorists isn’t there. Instead you’re driven by the need to post a decent score, which is fine for a multiplayer game but gets tired very quickly when soloing a shooter. Even Bulletstorm, which provided an outlandish version of Unit 13‘s gameplay, had a story mode to provide context for the insanity.
Initially players will find themselves hunting terrorists carefully, planning setups and paths to objectives, all with XP – and by extension a decent score - and a good star ranking in mind. There are several mission types spread over Unit 13‘s 35 missions to keep things fresh, ranging from ‘run and gun’ to timed runs to ‘get spotted and it’s all over’. A few hours in however and a sense of pointlessness creeps in. Leaderboards to compete on and the option of two-player co-op can stave this feeling off for a while but it will rear its head again, sooner rather than later.
Gameplay is typically challenging. Some missions will only regen your health at specific checkpoints, upping the difficulty or frustration factor, depending on what sort of gamer you are. Others will allow health regeneration but players may have to contend with greater numbers of enemies. Most of the challenges are intentional, others… not so much. The cover system isn’t the best we’ve seen and it is all too easy to pop out of cover and into a shotgun round by mistake.
This is made up for by a forgiving auto-aim that snaps to an enemy from a greater distance than we were expecting it to. This isn’t the unfair advantage that you’d think, given how greatly players are outnumbered on levels. The auto-aim isn’t always needed though since the AI will sometimes display baffling behaviour by getting stuck trying to run through solid objects or steadfastly refusing to look at where the player is. This isn’t a constant but it does serve to remind you that you’re in little more than a shooting gallery.
Unit 13 is a solid effort from Zipper but the inconsistent AI, lack of anything resembling a story and sheer pointlessness of it all will see players switching this one off, never to be seen again, after a few short hours. This is a pity because the shooting/cover/objective mechanics mostly work the way that they should. You’ll have noticed that we didn’t mention the Vita’s special functions. That’s because, aside from some minor touchscreen functionality with grenades, some movement and disarming booby-traps, there isn’t any. Just another generic shooter.