Third-person shooters were something to be avoided on the PSP, but thanks to the Vita’s second analogue stick we can now safely embrace the genre on a handheld device. Unit 13 comes from Zipper Interactive, the team behind the Socom games, most recently the impressive Socom: Special Forces, so there’s potential here.
Despite Zipper’s last game having a decent plot, this game is very much business only and broken up into individual missions with no story at all. Essentially, you pick one specialist from the unit and get dropped into a level to kill terrorists, kill leaders, kill intel, I mean pick up intel and diffuse bombs. Standard 9-5 counter-terrorism.
Stages vary in length and will often have different parameters affecting difficulty. Some won’t have checkpoints (will cause rage) and no regenerating health and others will have a time limit. Thankfully there are more relaxed ones with checkpoints and regenerating health.
Unit 13 features a scoring system, but as long as you complete your objectives you’ll unlock the next stage. Headshots, regular kills, bomb disposal, sub-tasks and other factors all give you points that build up a multiplier. Forget any crazy combos from the likes of Tony Hawk’s or more specifically, The Club. These multipliers are very low and scoring well almost seems optional. End of mission bonuses are sometimes a bit unbalanced as you might be called “slow and sloppy” despite maxing out the time bonus. Sometimes I’d blunder my way through a level, setting off alarms and getting into lengthy fire fights and then get a five star rating, then do a similar mission faster and silently and get three stars. Go figure.
Chances are you’ve already played Uncharted: Golden Abyss if you have a Vita and I’m surprised to say I think it handles much better as a shooter. That’s because of Uncharted’s neat feature that lets you tweak your aim by gently moving the Vita, which was great for headshots. Unit 13 relies solely on the analogue for aiming and it’s generally fine, but after playing Uncharted, I want motion tweaking in every Vita TPS.