Developer: Zipper Interactive
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release Date: March 6th, 2012
Available On: Playstation Vita
Zipper Interactive is most well known for their SOCOM games. After SOCOM 4’s poor timing, getting released right as the Playstation Network went down, they moved to the Vita and to an all new IP called Unit 13. Does this arcadey military shooter have better luck, or does it also suffer from problems?
Unit 13 pretty much has no story to speak of. Instead it’s just 36 stand alone missions that has one of four different setups. The most basic is a Direct Action mission. Here you’ll simply be dropped into the level and have to complete out objectives that can range from killing specific targets to planting bombs. You won’t always get the most simple missions though. Covert missions require you to be stealthy and avoid detection by enemies or cameras. Deadline missions require you to speed through the level to beat the clock. The final, and worst, is Elite missions. In this mode the game turns off regenerating health and checkpoints, forcing you to work off a limited health bar and restart the entire level over if you die. It feels like the game is artificially inflating the difficulty here for the sake of saying these levels are “harder”, but it doesn’t actually make them much fun.
As you do things like shoot terrorists and complete objectives you’ll earn XP and points. You can use the XP to level up one of six different operatives, each of who gets different equipment and proficiency with different weapons. The points go to getting stars, which you can use to unlock special levels later in the game. Each of the six operatives can earn extra points for specific actions as well. For example, Zeus earns more points for kills while he’s low on health, Chuckles gets more points for pistol kills, while Python gets bonus points for putting extra bullets into enemies. Once you have enough stars you can go on a High Value Target mission. These levels require you to hunt down and kill a special enemy, but there’s little more to it than that.
Once you’ve completed the game you can replay any level you want in dynamic mode, which causes the objectives, enemy layout, and spawn point to be randomized. You can also play any level co-op with a buddy, which always makes things a little more fun. Finally there’s a daily challenge which changes every day, offering up a new mission for you to try. It’s a good chunk of content which is nice for people interested in continuing to play the game past the initial 36 missions. It’s also smartly designed as no level lasts longer than five or so minutes, making it perfect for portable on-the-go play.
Of course there are some problems I had with the game play. Enemy AI seems to switch between extremely stupid and cheating constantly. I’ve seen enemies stare motionless at walls or watch their buddy be gunned down and not be bothered by it at all. Then later I would turn a corner and someone would know I’m there despite his back being turned to me. Then he’d turn around and head shot me instantly. Naturally he’d be something like the last enemy on an Elite level, forcing me to restart the entire thing. The game also has a bad habit of spawning an infinite amount of enemies to come constantly rushing you from doorways you just can’t see behind until you moved forward enough. I also kind of groaned every time I saw mines or explosives. While they’re not difficult to disarm, I did find it tedious to slowly approach them and wait for the disarming animation to end.
Despite these few grievances I still found Unit 13 to be a pretty acceptable game. It’s good in short bursts, I wouldn’t play it for more than 30 minutes at a time, but if you keep it to that you can find yourself enjoying Unit 13.