Unit 13 Is, Unexpectedly, A PlayStation Vita Game That Matters

I missed the first item we ran on Unit 13. I forgot the second one existed.

But now that I’ve played this “launch window” game for the PlayStation Vita, I’m paying attention. I think you should, too.

Unit 13 gives a generic first impression. It’s a third-person military shooter made by Zipper Interactive, the creators of SOCOM and MAG. It is controlled mostly by the Vita’s twin analogue sticks and looks exactly like how you’d expect it to look.

What’s special is how heavily-networked the game is. Watch the video above and you’ll see and hear about all of the best features, but for the video-watching impaired, let me break it down:

  • The game contains 36 main missions that last 3-30 minutes, each of which can be played solo or in online two-player co-op.
  • You play for high scores, chaining kills the way you would in the old Sega game The Club or in Modern Warfare‘s Special Ops mode. Or think of it like chaining combos in an old Tony Hawk. You post those scores online.
  • Whether you have a 3G-enabled Vita or are just on Wi-Fi, you can see a perpetually-updated status feed that tells you how your friends are doing in the game.
  • You can compete in daily challenges, which remix the levels, then post your best scores online.
  • Special boss missions, dubbed “High Value Target” missions are accessible only if you gain a lot of stars for scoring highly in missions. This is weird, but cool: If someone on your friends list or someone who is physically nearby unlocks one of these missions, you get a single opportunity to play it, too. That offer expires in a set period of time (24 hours, perhaps), and you only get one crack at it. If you succeed, it remains unlocked.

I think I’d wind up playing this game solo most of the time, but with a feature set like that, I doubt I’d ever feel like I was playing it in a vacuum. This is how I want my portable games to be networked, so I am now paying attention to Unit 13, which is set to release in the launch window (close to February, maybe within a couple of months of that).

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