Zipper Interactive knows how to make a great shooter. Known for their SOCOM and MAG efforts, this studio puts a ton of effort into every new project, and Unit 13 for the PlayStation Vita is no different. They are embracing the Vita’s NEAR function and giving gamers more choice as they work through 36 unique levels. It’s not a story-driven adventure; it’s more about slick, addictive, nonstop action.
Perhaps most interesting is the fact that progression isn’t traditional. Rather than going through and completing one level and tackling the next, Zipper is giving you the chance to skip around. So after finishing one stage, you can either move on to the next stage, or opt to start further on down the path. And as I just said, we’re not talking about heavy plot and character development; each mission is its own self-contained little nugget of military goodness, so feel free to attack the 36 levels in any order you wish. Not open-ended, but not restrictive, either.
The Vita’s NEAR feature will let your friends track your success; after every completed mission, your score is available to your buddies. The cool part is that once your score has been tallied, your friends can play that mission and attempt to beat your score, regardless of their own progress in the game. In this way, you can all help each other. Worldwide leaderboards will track your scores, too, and fresh daily challenges will pop up that will give you a chance to shine. They really want to keep you involved!
As for the gameplay itself, we’ll be looking at a pretty standard third-person shooter format, which should work very well with the dual analog sticks. There’s a cover mechanic, some environmental interaction (exploding barrels, for instance), and a class system, where each class comes equipped with different weapons and skills. Therefore, as is typically the case with Zipper’s products, there should be plenty of customization and freedom when it comes to character load-out and how one approaches each mission.
If you’re wondering about the touchscreens, yeah, you use them. But they aren’t the focal point of the gameplay; in other words, you’ll rely on the analog sticks for the basic, critical controls. But you’ll be able to use the front and rear touchpads to cycle through your weapons, and other functions may be mapped to the touchscreens as well. Overall, there’s no doubt that Unit 13 will satisfy those who love to compete with their friends; it’s not exactly MAG, but many of the same theories are in place. Above all else is this— playing all by your lonesome just isn’t as much fun.
And don’t forget about two-player co-op!
12/20/2011 Ben Dutka