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The Double-A Team: Unit 13 was a great game hidden in camo


I will always love the Vita: that beautiful screen, that oddball touchpad on the back, those lovely floating triggers. Most of all the Vita had such excellent games - a Double-A paradise. Gravity Rush was a dream of movement and landscape. Wipeout was the future of yesterday handled with care. And Unit 13? Unit 13 was a secretly great game, if you looked past the surface stuff.

For one thing: Unit 13. Not the most thrilling of names. It sounds, in fact, like the Halloween episode of Storage Hunters. Then there's the Unit themselves - a bunch of dusty hardnuts decked out with rifles and shotguns and laser sites and all that Clancy jazz.

But then you play the game. Cor! The Vita's screen offers a little window onto a world, and here the world is perfectly sized for it. The maps are complex but not too big, the odds are stacked but not overwhelmingly so, and the whole thing is designed with a commute in mind: in and out, kill everyone and still make it off the bus at the right stop.

Cover image for YouTube videoUNIT™ 13 (PS Vita) Launch Trailer

It's a cover shooter, then, and a military one, but the focus is on stealth and precision. There are so many of them and so few of you! You'd better make each shot count - room by room, take everyone down, and then move onto the next scenario. There were skill shots and XP systems and a handful of different mission types, but really this one was all about the pleasure of working surgically - getting through a mission without really taking much damage, whittling down an entire army while moving from one quiet spot to the next.

The end result is one of those games that comes back to you at odd moments. I'll confess, I never run home from work and say: tonight I'm firing up Unit 13! But I'll think of it when a headshot in another game doesn't feel quite as cruelly clinical, or when an encounter isn't as taut with promise. I don't think Unit 13 ever got ported to anything else - I never really met anyone else who wasn't a games writer who had even played it - so it's stuck on the Vita for good now. And I think that's quite nice really? Stuck on the Vita. There are worse places to be.