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Unit 13 is a third person shooter that was developed by SOCOM-creator Zipper Interactive exclusively for the PlayStation Vita portable console. Having never played a SOCOM game previously, I was unsure of what to expect from this developer. I picked up Unit 13 to satiate my appetite for shooters until Resistance: Burning Skies arrives on the Vita, but having recently finished playing it to completion I was left feeling somewhat deflated.
The storyline behind the game is nonexistent, choosing instead to plunge you straight into the action. While this ‘all flash no substance’ approach may suit some gamers, I found it to be less than compelling, and struggled to become absorbed into the experience.
The game offers a nice mix between stealth and action elements, and 36 missions provide a sufficient amount of variety. The environments in which these missions take place are recycled quite frequently however. Shooters are the perfect genre to take advantage of the dual analog sticks featured on the Vita, and Unit 13 has executed this well, with a responsive and simple control system. Further longevity is added through the introduction of a co-operative multiplayer mode.
The game places a heavy focus upon scoring your performance on a particular mission, which adds further replay value as you strive to achieve a higher leaderboard placement. You can elect to play as one of six different classes of character, and you can level up as you progress through the game in order to unlock new features such as more powerful weapons.
The AI of your computer opponents leaves a lot to be desired, with weird patrol patterns and occasional glitches detracting from the sense of realism. Such problems could have been resolved with more care and attention in the development process, as it is Unit 13 feels like a very rushed experience.
I found the sound on offer to be pretty run of the mill. Voices sound sufficiently clear, but as is often the case with this genre, the spoken commands quickly become annoyingly repetitive.
If you’re used to the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare standard of graphics then it may take some time to adjust to Unit 13. That said, considering the portable limitations the visuals are more than sufficient, with well designed character models and environments adding to the game’s appeal.
The game is best viewed as an indicator of how much potential the Vita has in this genre. However, a number of drawbacks make it difficult to justify a £30 price tag. Unless you’re desperate for titles to play on your new handheld console, you can safely give this one a miss.