Friday, April 13, 2012

Unit 13 Review

The Playstation Vita is a very capable device. With dual-analog sticks, it can virtually play anything that its older console brother can play. It would make sense, then, for there to be a shooter on the Vita. The first shooter on the system, Unit 13, makes a pretty unique experience based on some of the Vita's most powerful features. This third person shooter shows that the Vita can succeed in even some of the hardest categories for handhelds. 

Taking into consideration that this game is on the Vita, it flourishes. It isn't a groundbreaking shooter by any means, but its a lot of fun in a handheld form. The story, which isn't really much, follows the path of a new recruit as he joins Unit 13. This unit is composed of 6 different soldiers, each with their own specialties such as infiltration, technician, etc. In reality, there isn't much of a story, which actually works well for the game. Being that it is a handheld and not a console game, the "story" follows these soldiers on different missions gathering intel and sabotaging plans for a terrorist threat. There are 4 different mission types, which are Direct Action, Covert, Deadline, and Elite. The Direct Action missions take place as your commander directs. You have a main objective, but are also given additional orders as things unfold. The Covert missions make sure that you are not detected, and if you are, the mission is failed. Deadline missions require a bit of speed, making sure you complete the mission in a certain amount of time. Lastly, the Elite missions require you to move a bit more carefully, since you have less health, and it doesn't regenerate in the same way.

The overall gameplay of the game plays very similar to the SOCOM series, because the same producers are responsible for this game. It is a third person shooter, that focuses on being rather tactical. That being said, the controls can definitely impact the game greatly, and its fortunate that the controls perform very well. Like any shooter, the two analog sticks control movement and orientation. The R and L buttons are used for zooming and shooting. So far, its like any standard shooter. What sets the game apart, though, is the ability to use the touchscreen to interact with objectives, and even reload or assault enemies. The touchscreen capabilities don't feel forced, and don't hinder the game in any way. If you don't feel like using them, you can use the traditional buttons as well, so it's not merely a gimmick. The game handles relatively well, though runs into some rough spots when trying to use cover. Trying to shoot from behind a low wall while crouching is very picky, as well as trying to throw grenades. Sometimes its very accurate, but at times, grenades have a mind of their own.

There are about 4 or 5 main maps, with the missions taking place in different areas of each map, so it feels pretty varied. Some of the maps are indoors, and others outdoors. Graphically, they aren't entirely impressive, but when taken into consideration that this is a Vita title, they look pretty good. The graphics don't ever detract from the game, and really only look bad with harder textures such as smoke or fire. The character models are actually pretty impressive, but lack the depth of a console model. The enemy AI are pretty similar, and are stationed around each map, either patrolling or guarding certain doorways or objectives. Being tactical really helps, using silenced weapons to stay undetected, but sometimes the enemies will see you from across the map. Each mission, of which there are 36 main missions and 9 high value targets, will be timed and rated. There are points based on consecutive kills, time, disarms, and other factors. These scores will be ranked on a leaderboard and against your friends, and give you a value out of 5 stars. This encourages a lot of replay value trying to get better overall scores. Lastly, there is also 2 player co-op via wifi, which is actually quite fun, though much easier as it doesn't seem to scale well to accommodate 2 players.

Story - 8
Essentially, there really isn't a story, but the game plays well regardless.
Gameplay – 8.5

Overall a great experience on the go, but lacks the polish of a console shooter.
Graphics – 8.5
For a Vita title, the graphics look great, but could have more variance in environments and enemies.
Sound – 9
A decent soundtrack and decent voice acting as well.
Replayability - 9.5
Ratings for each mission encourage playing it again to get a better score, as well as playing through the missions cooperatively.

Overall Rating - 8.5


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