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Review

Unit 13 Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • VITA

Infiltrating enemy territory and tactically eliminating evildoers is tense and enjoyable in Unit 13.

A quote widely misattributed to George Orwell asserts that people sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. The members of Unit 13 are such men. Armed with state-of-the-art weaponry and code names like Animal, Zeus, and Chuckles, these grizzled soldiers venture deep into enemy territory to put the enemies of peace and freedom to the sword. Unit 13 lets you undertake these missions, and it makes accomplishing your objectives and surviving against imposing odds a suspenseful and satisfying task.

There's not much of an overarching story here. You get 36 separate missions to complete, which see you trying to thwart the efforts of the terrorist organization Awlaad Al-Qowah by assassinating high-ranking members, rescuing kidnapped journalists, obtaining intelligence, and so forth. These small missions are well suited for gaming on the go, with some of them lasting just a few minutes, but the disjointed structure prevents you from getting engrossed in them the way you might with a cohesive, story-driven campaign.

The nine environments your missions take you to include a stately embassy, a metro station, a Middle Eastern bazaar, and others. The realistic details and believable layouts of each one make them fitting settings for your grim tasks. Bodies collapse convincingly after you deliver the killing blow, lending weight to your actions. Unfortunately, the voice chatter undermines the serious vibe a bit. Both your current operative and the unseen commander who chimes in over the headset sometimes lay on the gung ho attitude a little thick, straining credibility by reminding you that the people you're killing are evil with a capital EVIL and that you’re doing the world a favor by terminating them with extreme prejudice. It's as if Unit 13 is afraid that you might, even for a moment, question the nobility of your actions or entertain the idea of any gray morality in this tale of shining champions of justice against absolute monsters.

The missions fall into four categories: covert, direct action, deadline, and elite. Covert missions require you to maneuver sneakily. If an alarm is triggered--by an enemy you've alerted to your presence or by you taking a wayward step into the sights of a surveillance camera or the laser beams of a security barrier--the mission ends in failure. In direct action missions, you're free to approach situations in whatever manner you see fit, from sneaking around to charging in guns blazing. Deadline missions require you to work quickly and complete your objectives before time runs out. Elite missions, as you'd expect, are the toughest of the bunch. On elite missions, you do not have regenerating health; your health is restored only once per mission, at the halfway point. Additionally, there are no checkpoints. Death means starting the entire mission over from the beginning.

This hotel got high marks from travel guides for its flaming braziers, but lost points due to the deadly terrorists in the lobby.

Regardless of the type of mission you're on, moving with caution and an awareness of your surroundings are key. Unit 13 doesn't shuffle you down corridors; it places you in open environments that are often patrolled by enemies and provide ample opportunities for cover. It's very easy to line your reticle up with exposed enemies while safe behind a wall and then pop out to instantly eliminate them with headshots. The aim assist helps you keep a bead on enemies if they start moving. The ease with which you can target and kill enemies makes you feel like an efficient, highly trained operative, but it also takes some of the satisfaction out of the shooting.

So the challenge lies not in targeting and killing foes but in keeping yourself alive. Most missions give you regenerating health, but it still only takes a few shots in rapid succession to finish you off. So when you opt to hide behind cover to take out large groups of enemies, you want to be sure to choose a strong position that doesn't make it easy for enemies to flank you. The fragility of your operative's life and the need to stay vigilant make moving through these dangerous environments suspenseful, at least at first. Enemies are positioned in the same places and follow the same patrol patterns each time you attempt a mission. So if you try a tactic one time that doesn't work well, you can learn from it and simply try a different tactic on your next attempt. This allows for a trial-and-error approach in which you keep trying different tactics--different pathways through the environment, different cover positions--until you stumble on those that allow you to get the job done.

Still, it's rewarding to get to the point where you know a mission inside out. There's a kind of spy-movie grace to moving through missions undetected; always being in the right place at the right time to perform melee kills on patrolling enemies from behind and take cover in ideal spots to neutralize foes with headshots without fear of repercussion. The illusion is broken occasionally, however, by absurd enemy behavior. A guard might try repeatedly and futilely to shoot you through a solid wall, or you might find a soldier who is alerted to your presence by the sound of your gunfire but is diligently looking away from where the sounds came. But these moments are relatively uncommon, and for the most part, enemies respond believably, making use of cover and exploiting weaknesses in your position.

The game's scoring system encourages you to find the ideal approaches to missions. Completing your objectives earns you points, as do actions like covertly infiltrating an enemy facility or taking out all the enemy soldiers in an area. But your best bet for setting scores that dominate the leaderboards is to make the most of streaks. Perform a few headshots in rapid succession and you trigger a streak; the more headshots you pull off while the streak lasts, the higher your multiplier gets and the more points you earn. The same goes for stealth kills and other demonstrations of skill. This scoring system makes returning to the game's brief missions worthwhile, particularly after you get a notification that a friend of yours has beaten your score on one.

Unfortunately, many of the elite missions go beyond putting a premium on tactical smarts and become downright punishing. The lack of checkpoints during these operations means that failure while trying to complete the second or third mission objective sends you all the way back to the beginning, which forces you to go through the motions of completing earlier objectives again. This gets tiresome quickly, and you might wish that failure simply carried with it a penalty to your final score and star rating, rather than serving up a big helping of repetition.

Unfortunately, leveling Animal up does not convey bonuses to his beard.
You can tackle any mission alongside another player; all missions, regardless of type, lack checkpoints when played cooperatively, but this is mitigated by the fact that you can revive your partner if he or she is incapacitated. Some technical hiccups currently make connecting considerably more difficult than it should be, and even when you do connect, you might spot some strange happenings, like your partner gliding up ladders without a climb animation. But working in tandem with another player to take out your enemies even more efficiently than you could alone is gratifying.

As you complete missions, you earn experience points for your operatives, and as they level up, they get access to more weapons, scopes, grenade types, suppressors, and other gear. Their abilities also improve; Zeus, the shotgun-toting point man, gets reduced recoil and faster reloads on his weapon of choice, among other benefits. The stealth expert Ringo can carry more smoke grenades and have longer-lasting stealth kill streaks with improved point bonuses. These advancements encourage you to take your developed operatives back to earlier missions to try to improve your scores, and they provide a meaningful reward for your progress.

You're also rated for your performance on each mission on a scale of one to five stars. As you earn stars, you unlock high-value target missions. There are nine of these in all; each one is a challenging mission in which your goal is to assassinate one of the leaders of Awlaad Al-Qowah. Additionally, if you earn three or more stars on a mission, you gain access to the "dynamic" version of that mission, which takes place in the same location as the ranked version but features randomly generated objectives and enemy placement each time. These missions are a good way to earn some additional XPs for your operatives without repeating the same missions again and again, but without leaderboards, they don't have the competitive allure of their ranked counterparts. On the other hand, the daily challenge missions are very competitive indeed. You only get one shot at each day's challenge, and you have to make the very best of it if you harbor any hopes of beating out other players for the top score.

Don't worry. In a moment, you won't be.

So there's certainly a good amount of content here. The predictable enemy behavior and easy shooting of Unit 13 sometimes make the action feel a bit rote, and some missions are downright frustrating. However, the ways in which the game rewards your skills and requires you to take a tactical approach as you stay mindful of your surroundings encourage you to be the best operative that you can be. It feels good to do the free world proud.

The Good
The need for caution and vigilance makes missions suspenseful
Good variety of mission types
Scoring system and leaderboards encourage you to perform skillfully and efficiently
The Bad
Occasionally erratic enemy behavior
Elite missions can be overly punishing
7
Good
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Discussion

33 comments
Terrencec06
Terrencec06

At first I didn't like this game. Camera angles can suck sometimes but it's fun.

snova9308
snova9308

feels like a super dumbed down version of socom...

I liked socom because of its complexity... this is just..... too simple....

doors open automatically, so theres no breach and clear tactic,

the time limit in some missions just dissuades planning all together,

sniping is no longer an option, because of the map design,

etc etc...

Kalithro
Kalithro

The DEMO for this game was awsome.  Will wait for the used game price on Amazon ($17 + $3 shipping currently) to decrease before picking this one up.

tr1n1tr1n1
tr1n1tr1n1

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

SANDMAN201
SANDMAN201

@cjbos81 I know it's so sad! I wanted a portable SOCOM. Or at least this game with 16 player Team Death Match would have made this game perfect. I'm so sad that they shut down.

cjbos81
cjbos81

R.I.P. zipper interactive

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

I THOUGHT IT WUZ A FIRST PERSON SHOOTER. Huh.

feryl06
feryl06

they failed to mention the widespread freezing issues with this game... otherwise it's a pretty decent game.

flywheels
flywheels

I was looking for the next game to buy and it looks like I may have found it.

S-181
S-181

what happened to game emblems? i liked those.

carolynmichelle
carolynmichelle moderator staff

@Dy_WarriorsXoXo My pleasure, thank you. :)

Dy_WarriorsXoXo
Dy_WarriorsXoXo

@carolynmichelle Thank you for the video reviews, I really enjoyed this one and the one for Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus.

carolynmichelle
carolynmichelle moderator staff

@vandeacon Those are all Caro originals. I'm glad you enjoyed them. :)

Triangels
Triangels

@MafiaMusic : thats your opinion ! when u dont like a game that doesnt mean whole the world wont like that game !!! Vita already got great must have games like Lumines & Uncharted and so on PS3 on the lunch era (resistance and MGS4 )

Iridescent406
Iridescent406

@MafiaMusic Please, do us all a favor and stop being dumb.

MafiaMusic
MafiaMusic

will vita ever get a must have game? lol doesn't look like it. this lineup is almost as bad as PS3's in 06 and 07. :lol:

XspidervenomX
XspidervenomX

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

XspidervenomX
XspidervenomX

Too frustrating for us. I don't have the time to keep failing and doing the same levels and not being able to advance. It won't let you play the game unless you complete the annoying missions. Otherwise your stuck in frustration..

PeterDuck
PeterDuck

I like how they make fun of the animal's beard in the demo

telefanatic
telefanatic

I really wish there was some sort of competitive multiplayer with the game. I like it so far, bought it yesterday.

jamyskis
jamyskis

Sounds decent. Will certainly pick it up at some point, but Wipeout 2048 and Everybody's Golf are on my list before I go for anything else:)

Raziel_0
Raziel_0

alll VITA game are "good" that mean they are "really good"

Kos1c
Kos1c

The demo was cool, was a little short. I only found it short cos' I really want to play this game, and unlock new upgrades to my guns. :D I can't wait for the release of this game. Anything that feels like a Rainbow six copy is good in my books. Even if it's not as high-tech as the Rainbow games.

QOSMSTR
QOSMSTR

I still wish they added takedowns...

vandeacon
vandeacon

whoever wrote the captions under the pictures......take a bow.

joel_c17
joel_c17

Can't wait for this one!

LJELLZ
LJELLZ

might have to pick this one up!

SANDMAN201
SANDMAN201

All right now they need to make Socom for PSVITA then I'll be sold and all out of money by the end of the night.

shri1026
shri1026

I will try it. I loved Recoil.

ALLoY1717
ALLoY1717

About as good as I expected, from playing the demo. Will probably pick it up if I get bored with my current games between now and when the new Resistance is released.

Unit 13 More Info

  • First Released
    • PlayStation Vita
    Unit 13 is a third person military shooter from Zipper Interactive.
    7.5
    Average User RatingOut of 224 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Unit 13
    Developed by:
    Zipper Interactive
    Published by:
    SCEA, SCEI, SCEE, SCE Australia
    Genres:
    Action, Team-Based, 3D, Shooter, Third-Person
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Drug Reference, Mild Language, Violence