And what it's doing is essentially tactical shooters.
With MAG, it showed it could push the number of online players up to dizzying heights. With Socom, it cemented the studio as solid players in the market for strategic shooters.
With Unit 13 the developer's trying to adapt the strategic shooter to pocket format, with everything that means. We'll jump ahead here and say it's succeeded. Unit 13 is rock solid and well thought out.
At first glance, Unit 13 is not impressive, in fact, it seems a mediocre shooter. For one thing, the graphics aren't up to scratch. Dull colors and limited textures don't help. The voice-acting and script is so you're likely to roll your eyes at the cliche.
However, it is not here that Zipper has spent its best efforts. The story is a concoction of bland and tasteless generic shooters. But there is reason in madness. Firstly, the missions stand alone, each introduced via a short load screen that fills in backstory via com chatter - who's who and what your goal is.
And what at first seems like laziness, is quickly revealed as common sense and an understanding of the platform the game's built for. For while on the go, there's little drag - it's fast action and enjoyable gameplay. See it as shooter quickie.
You've got thirty-six missions to play through. The more sub-objectives you meet, the more stars you earn post-game. Stars unlock new missions, in the form of new targets to be liquidated.
Thirty-six mightn't seem much, but it's here that the generic story comes into its own. Because not only can you play each mission as its originally designed, but with randomly generated opponents and target locations. So the game expands beyond below forty missions with the sort of numbers developers love telling you they need a calculator to work out.
Replaying the stages will allow you to start noticing the variations within the environment. Clucking chickens, cameras flashing discreetly in the corner of rooms, guards' chatter about wind, weather and poor cooking. Bland becomes believable.
Speaking of credibility: it's not just a matter of going in Call of Duty style. This is a tactical shooter. So often it pays to observe one's goals and sneaking around in the shadows, while various sinister guards are offed one by one. A shot or two can kill you, and in so-called Elite missions there's no regenerating health - each injury becomes grave.
A mission can take half hour to complete, but if you know that time is short, and you can choose to take those setups marked by a timer. The play style switches to direct attack tactics and three minutes worth of shooting. It's very sensible, and shows an understanding of the PS Vita as entertainment needs to serve both those on the go as well as players settled in on the couch for an afternoon.
Your team consists of six tough mercenaries, each with their strengths and weaknesses. Their arsenal of weapons can be shared between the various soldiers as they open up, and each character may upgrade ten levels with associated perks. Each weapon can also be modified, such as additional silencer and scope., and of course there are grenades and C4 with its self-timer.
You can go online and play co-op, be they the standard or special missions. One benefit of co-op is that you can revive each other, furthering your chances, and there's the pleasure of flanking enemies and socialising as you shoot.
Should that not be enough, then there is a special-generated mission updated daily, where you compete across leaderboards to take the lead either among friends or the world.
None of this would be very valuable if the gameplay was not as rock solid as it is. Firstly, it is wonderful to finally be able to control a handheld shooter with dual analog sticks, but the amount of options is huge, and mechanics a pleasure.
13 In examining the smaller details do you find out how solid the game truly is. The shooting works perfectly, the maps are some of the best in a long time in a shooter, online facilities work fine: it's only the generic story that pulls the experience down. But given we've had enough nonsense about terrorists, are any of us listening anymore?
Unit 13 takes the tactical shooter and serves it in a way so you can both enjoy it as a delicious snack or take it as the day's main meal. This applies regardless of whether you will enjoy it alone or with a friend.