They want you to think that you can play a shooter on the go.
That's really the sole purpose and goal of Unit 13. Much has been made about the PlayStation Vita's dual analog sticks and their capabilities when it comes to portable shooter experiences, but Unit 13 is the first game to put that into practice.
That means people like me have an opportunity to absolutely destroy this game in reviews. We might want to compare it to console-sized experiences or deride the tiny little analog sticks on the Vita, but Unit 13 manages to stand up to those attacks.
This is mostly thanks to Zipper Interactive's long history of third-person shooters. With almost the entire SOCOM series under their belts, the developers make the PlayStation Vita their bitch. Controls are snappy, intuitive, and smartly mapped.
Certain actions are mapped to the touchscreen, conveniently adjacent to where your thumbs will already be resting. Tap your ammo indicator to reload your weapon. Tap the interact icon when it pops up on your screen to plant bombs, hack computers, and more. In this way, Unit 13 sets the standard for every shooter that follows. Why wouldn't you tap the large screen for passive actions like these?
Still, there is some left to be desired. Zipper definitely took the mobile-leaning route here, opting for bite-sized missions with little in the way of cinematic quality. There's plenty of gameplay to enjoy, but little of it will provide a "wow" moment the blockbuster shooting genre is known for. Missions typically consist of the player getting dropped into an arena and given a set of tasks before reaching extraction. This works great when you're waiting for a dentist appointment or you're getting a few minutes of gaming while on the toilet, but you'll be left with high hopes for the heavy-hitter Vita shooters down the line.
Even the game's online co-op works well, but leaves something to be desired... like a competitive multiplayer mode, although that seems to be missing from (almost) the entirety of the games in PlayStation Vita's launch window.
When all is said and done, Unit 13 fills a void but not completely. It proves that shooters can be done well on a mobile device, and it proves that Zipper is the third-person shooter crutch that Sony can lean on whenever it needs a title to show other developers that it can be done.
If you're patient, you should probably wait for a bigger name with a bigger first-person or third-person shooter. If this is your genre, there's no stopping you from picking up this title. Still, if you just want to give those dual analogs a work-out, Unit 13 more than fits the bill. It does so with intelligence and the spark Zipper normally reserves for its SOCOM games.