Unit 13: How Many Damn Drug-Lords Can One Video Game Hold?

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chris-littlechild - April 26, 2012

Unit 13 is a shooter for Playstation Vita, from the makers of the SOCOM games. It's a genre that's seemingly tailor-fit to the fledgling handheld, with its twin sticks offering precision control and aiming capabilities. It neglects to provide intricate plotting of any sort, which would have been superfluous in any case. Nuts to that, Zipper Interactive insists, we're above such capers. Suffice it to say: there's reams of bad guys to gun down, and you're... holding the gun.

You're met at the menu screen by a less-than-rivetting but perfectly functional mission list. It's essentially a numbered grid, and not even a thrilling, sexy numbered grid of the kind math teachers make sweet forbidden love to in the privacy of their own homes. Presently though, you select a mission and it's revealed to have a melodramatic title like Operation Open Flame, which adds to the interest factor somewhat. (Operation Huge Meathead Like Arnold Schwarzenegger On Steroids Unleashes A Shitstorm On Some Unsuspecting Dumbass Criminals With Rifles comes later. At least, I'm hoping.) Each operation is divided into a distinct type, depending on the nature of the task at hand. There are Covert missions, demanding less bullet to the groin and more stealthy infiltration. A Mission Impossible affair, if you will, sans beloved mental midget Tom Cruise. Direct Action levels, by contrast, promise run-and-gun ass whuppings by the metric crap-tonne.

However you're thwarting the merry band of drug dealers, assorted miscreants and general bastions of bastardry, there's a squad member for the job. Unit 13, the elite military group you control, comprises six agents. Each has their own specialism and range of abilities to augment their talents. Alabama the sniper, for example, could blast the balls off a gnat from a mile away. At close range though, the gnat could probably kick his ass if it got the drop on him, such is his feeble nature. Stats contribute to this as well, with some sacrificing speed for greater survivability and so on. Further, the members level up with experience which allows them to unlock different weaponry to enable various arsenal alterings. The caveat here is the fact that each character has items that can only be unlocked by another in the squad at a certain level. Your personal favourite death machine with legs and a penis will only get you so far, if you're hunting the collectables. It's a great mechanic to encourage all of Unit 13 to get involved in the trigger-happy action. There's a recommended operative for each task, but you're free to go freestyle and play with whoever you wish.

Unit 13, in my view, is a great portable experience. The design lends itself well to playing on the go, with the quick-play mission list structure. There's certainly no dicking around with cutscenes here. There's a good degree of longevity on offer too, for those seeking a more substantial session. Even when every squad member's experience is maxed out, there are global highscores-amundo to better and daily challenges that are monstrously competitive. It's not an easy ride by any stretch, either. The thirty-or-so basic missions will be a bitch to ace with the highest rank. High Value Target levels are unlocked by performing well, and to be frank, these are hard as hell. Should you be striving for the platinum trophy, you'll earn it and then some. Earn it hard.

Here's some gameplay from the game:

Article by Chris Littlechild

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