Unit 13 is a third person military game from Zipper Interactive, the makers of the original SOCOM games. Anyone that has ever played a SOCOM game will feel right at home here, right down to the very tight camera angle that only displays your character’s upper torso.
The demo we played opens with a brief training mission that teaches you the basics of combat. The most immediately noticeable thing about Unit 13 is that it plays exactly like any console third person shooter, complete with cover system and iron sight aiming, with the added bonus of a touch screen interface. In fact if it weren’t for all the on-screen button prompts appearing you could easily mistake Unit 13 for a full fledged console game.
The basic skills you are taught include shooting, sniping, and the destruction of security cameras and motion sensors. Fortunately for those taking part we are informed that during the training mission you’re only using rubber bullets and the people you shoot are merely actors playing a part.
Once the training mission is completed you’ll put your new-found skills to test in a real mission. The only mission we were able to play revolved around infiltrating a base in east Asia that housed a terrorist cell’s jet development facility. Upon selecting the mission were were given the basic run down of the mission objectives – sabotage the jet, and steal various documents – as well as given the option of choosing a character to play as.
Each character has their own specialities, such as infiltration or assault, and their own starting weapons. The game helpfully recommends a character for each mission, but you are free to choose whoever you want, including a German soldier, armed with a shotgun, that is the spitting image for Ron Perlman.
Once we started the mission everything felt smooth and intuitive. Upon entering the first room we came across three guards and quickly disposed of them. Each time you kill an enemy you are awarded experience points, with more points awarded for more elaborate kills. For instance, shooting the first guard earned us a 400 points, while getting two head shots in a row on the next two guards earned over 900 points per guard.
Basic actions, such as reloading, throwing grenades, and switching to first person aiming are all handled by pressing the corresponding button on screen. When approaching an interactive objective an icon appears in the centre of the screen, as well as on the left hand side. Having this second icon on the left is handy as it’s far easier to reach than the one in the centre of the screen.
In the second room, which required us to collect three documents secreted within it, we were able to take down enemies with one hit melee attacks, which also granted us a substantial experience bonus. It was through testing out this hand to hand combat that it became clear we were playing as mere mortals. Within a few seconds of sustained gunfire our character died, further emphasising how important it is to remain behind cover.
Further exploration of the environment revealed that the play area consisted of about half a dozen rooms, each connected by a series of corridors. There were only a small number of security cameras to shoot out, and no motion sensors, but this may be because it was the first available mission and the developers are keen to ease players into the game gently on this new platform.
One strange omission is the lack of context sensitive take downs. For instance, at one point we climbed a ladder to a platform with a patrolling guard expecting to be able to perform a take down from the ladder, throwing him to his doom. Unfortunately this doesn’t appear possible, as all we were able to do was simply whack him with our gun once we climbed up. Another thing that seems strange is the lack of a support weapon – your character can only hold one weapon at a time, with no access to handguns or other small firearms.
Completing a mission earns a star rating and experience points, which contribute towards your overall level. As you level up you earn better stats and new equipment, which in turn will make later more challenging missions, that much easier to play through.
There look to be dozens of single player missions to choose from, as well as a substantial online co-operative mode, so it looks like there will be a wealth of content to keep players occupied for a long time to come. So long as a community pops up to support the game we could easily see this game taking off in a big way.
Unit 13 is due to be released exclusively on Playstation Vita in the UK on the 9th March both at retail and as a digital download from the Playstation Store. Stay tuned for more of our coverage of this game in the near future.
- Luke Mears