Unit 13 Preview - Third-Person Shooter Goes Social

Guns, bad guys, and exploding barrels--Zipper Interactive's latest third-person shooter boasts all the tropes of the genre. But are its social features really the future?

With the PlayStation Vita sporting two analog sticks, shooters suddenly make a lot more sense for on-the-go play. One of the first to hit the console will be Unit 13, a third-person military shooter. Developed by Zipper Interactive--makers of MAG and SOCOM 4 on the PlayStation 3--Unit 13 aims to meld social features with gunplay, making use of the Vita's NEAR functionality and changing the way players progress through each stage.

The heart of those changes lies in the level-selection grid, which will be familiar to anyone that's played the likes of Angry Birds or Cut the Rope on the iOS. Each level is represented by a numbered square on a grid. Traditionally in such games, you'd progress through each level in turn, making your way through to the end. In Unit 13, you can play through the levels in a different order. For example, if you complete level one in the top left-hand corner of the grid, you can either hit the adjacent square to the right to start level two or hit the one below it to start level 10.

This works because each of the 36 levels is a self-contained mission, with points awarded for how quickly you complete certain objectives, such as disabling a computer system or gunning down a certain number of bad guys. Each mission also contains a high value target to hunt, which rewards you with extra points. The mission grid is at the heart of the game's social features. Each time you complete a mission, your score is broadcast to your friends and nearby Vitas via NEAR.

They can then try to beat your score and the mission that you completed, regardless of where they are within the game grid. This gives them another way of unlocking later missions without traditional linear progression. All of your high scores are uploaded to worldwide leaderboards, making it easy to gloat to your friends. If you're not blessed with great shooting skills, though, daily challenges will allow you to rise to the top of a daily leaderboard, giving you your five minutes of fame.

Apart from the social features, the game itself plays like most other third-person shooters out there. There's a class system for characters, each of whom are armed with different weapons; a cover mechanic that lets you hide behind objects; and waves of nameless bad guys to shoot with your rifle. In our hands-on, we played one level set within an industrial building that was littered with the usual shooter tropes, such as exploding barrels, crates to use as cover, and mazelike corridors to navigate.

Not on my watch.

The dual analog sticks made aiming and shooting a breeze, and making our way through to the objective of hacking a computer system was a doddle. There's some implementation of Vita's touch screens too, so you can use the front or back to swipe through your available weapons. Unit 13 will live or die by its social features, and those depend on how many people will be tempted by the new franchise when the game is released alongside the Vita next year. Look out for more on GameSpot soon.

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Discussion

36 comments
sneakthief81
sneakthief81

cool and all..but I would rather much see a SOCOM 2HD either on the VITA or PS3..

marlobc
marlobc

cant wait ! Zipper is amazing with tactical shooters!

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

@c1utch2much Maybe you are right, but life/no-life has no meaning to me. I care about diversity, a richness of experience "good" or "bad," on both a personal and social level. It disappoints me that for some folks, living what they consider a good life is not enough. Other people have to acknowledge their value system, admire it, and try to emulate. I concede that's a different but valid world view, but I myself cannot agree with it.

Rovelius
Rovelius

Come on, Zipper. Stop making crap like SOCOM 4 and this and get working on MAG 2 already !

hella_epic
hella_epic

PS VITA sure looks like a BIG success.................

c1utch2much
c1utch2much

@Unfallen_Satan its good if you have no life

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

@babyrhinos, @llagueril1 I hate to break the news to you both but if you were around for the last two console generations you as a role playering gamer would of noticed the total decline of role playing games purduced for both the ps3 and xbox360 by eastern publishers that werent localized here in the states and Europe. How many titles can you count on your fingers were localized here on both platforms compared to ps2 and playstation and nintendo. If the trend continues I'm afraid the only games we gamers will see will only be shooters and games made here by western developers by gearbox, bestheda, thq, ea, and maybe activison. Btw please excuse my spelling its late my brain isn't working very well..

otanikun
otanikun

Well I know where my money is going when I get the Vita, this game looks like it could be a blast, now starting to reconsider the 3G model.

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

Social gaming is the future. This particular implementation of broadcasting scores and alternative mission unlocking doesn't feel particularly impressive. Additional features are always good; it's not going to elevate this game though.

nocoolnamejim
nocoolnamejim moderator

A shooter game that allows you to play with your friends? This has never been done before! How fresh and innovative!

babyrhinos
babyrhinos

@BlackBaldwin That's strange . . . what do you mean by RPG then? Does Demon's Souls not count as an RPG? Because . . . as far as I'm concerned . . . it's one of the most innovative and epic RPG's I've ever played. And what about Dark Souls? That one is even better!! There's also all the Elder Scrolls games if you're into that sort of thing. I guess I'm curious what the 360 got this generation RPG wise that PS3 didn't . . . because, I have a 360 and PS3, and I have more RPGs for my PS3 than for my 360. So what am I missing out on?

Yondaro
Yondaro

@illagueril1 Yes, I second your notion. They are Major RPG's, but that does NOT make them any good. You do realized you named the same game 3 times right? ES: Oblivion is a medieval Fallout 3 and New Vegas. They use the EXACT same engine. Guns in Fallout is your magic. Skyrim, I have not played it yet. But I assume that Bethesda made it the same as previous games with better graphics, but all the same bugs. That's why the game has day 1 updates. Bethesda is a horrible game developer, that can't make a game where it at least doesn't have ONE game breaking glitch.

illagueril1
illagueril1

@blackbaldwin Uuummm, did you jus get your PS3, like today? PS3 hasn't given you an epic RPG this gen?? ES: OBILIVION? Fallout 3? Fallout: NV? ES: SKYRIM???? And those are all from the same comp, Betheasda. And those are jus some of the major RPGs, so unless your talking bout JRPGs you are way, way off base saying there hasn't been any good RPGs this PS gen

Shadownk
Shadownk

graphics look kinda dated...limitation of the psv?

scratchisme
scratchisme

@lozvil "meh" with exclamation points is a bit of a contradiction.

vico3353
vico3353

This looks fun for a hand-held.

SANDMAN201
SANDMAN201

I hope there is at least 16 player competitive multiplayer in this game. Socom Fireteam Bravo 3 did it on the PSP, I'm sure the Vita can.

brok
brok

Dammit Zipper- where's the true sequel to Crimson Skies that only you guys can deliver!?

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

game looks interesting but I'm pretty burned out on military shooters right now. All I want is an epic rpg to pick up and play for awhile. Hopefully the vita will satify me in that genre unlike the ps3 has this console generation...

guertt
guertt

they have fail with socom 4.So I'm not looking for that one.

ecurl143
ecurl143

Godamn this Vita is looking the bomb each time I see something from it.

american997
american997

I'll only buy the vita for uncharted and resistance.

Illidan311
Illidan311

VIVA SOCOM 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Promised_Trini
Promised_Trini

Vita is going to be sick.I hope this game is release with it.Got my money ready!.

tevic
tevic

Great trailer, actually.

moej88
moej88

Looks exactly like Socom on PSP....even the same sounds.

gato2087
gato2087

Only 2 players in online game? wtf?

SANDMAN201
SANDMAN201

@danny_dm_moore Yeah true, and it's always good to have a pick-up and play style game. Still those tracers look annoying.

danny_dm_moore
danny_dm_moore

I think this might be a better fit for the Vita with it being a portable, if you want a story game play SOCOM on ps3! Besides, the system will get flooded with story based shooters soon enough now it has 2 sticks...

SANDMAN201
SANDMAN201

I don't like the idea of these level systems I want it to be like Socom, and have a proper story, and not be Arcade style. I don't want it to be corny with stupid bullet tracers. Look at the above picture and tell me those bullet tracers won't get annoying.