Monday, April 2

Unbearable Dutch Annual - Issue 2

I'm a little late to the party, but Unbearable Dutch enjoyed its second birthday two weeks ago. Our first year was good, but Dawson and I are now writing for about eight times as many people as we were this time last year. I'm proud that we're picking up more readers with our different approach to games writing. We may not have publishers on the line itching to gift us with review code, but we're better for it (read: will drop pants for free games).

The space between brown and grey
It is with great sadness that I acknowledge the passing of Zipper Interactive. I'm not going to lie: I wasn't the biggest the fan of everything they've developed, but they have some genuine classics under their belt.

Unit 13 will surely rank as my favourite from their extensive catalogue of brown and grey shooters.

It's not brimming with personality, nor is the control scheme without its quirks; it is, however, as close as I'll get to a portable version of underrated score attack shooter, The Club. Now Bizarre Creations' (also sadly shuttered) third person fragfest was also lacking a distinct sense of identity and featured somewhat awkward controls, but it had some thoroughly addictive mechanics that I've desperately wanted to re-engage with.

Save for the hilarious intro video (skip to 1:40 for stylish lols), Unit 13 feels like a spiritual successor to The Club. The gladiatorial gameshow theme has been eschewed in favour of an arguably more popular "modern warfare" look. It's not the most original or appealing approach, but if you're playing score attack games for the story: you're doing it wrong.

Different characters and weapon loadouts keep the action fresh across a small selection of maps that are rearranged and truncated to make up a chunky single player offering. The stealth mechanics are somewhat busted, but the shooting and cover controls are solid. The scoring and combo system is less reliant on speed when compared to Bizarre Creations' effort, and this ultimately works in Unit 13's favour as it's somewhat more forgiving and responds to a variety of approaches. It also features a Ron Perlman look alike, which remains a topic of fevered discussion amongst a good friend and I.

Stop haunting my dreams, Hellboy!

A lack of competitive multiplayer and forced implementation of touch controls are the only real warts on this package. Zipper may have also set the bar too high in terms of the amount of effort required to unlock all of the High Value Target missions. Nothing less than perfect scores in the majority of the game's thirty plus missions will grant you a shot at all of the terrorist masterminds that prevent the titular group of soldiers from attaining... erm... I'm not actually sure what Unit 13 wants, now that I think about it. As per the above though, story isn't really a priority when you're trying to line up consecutive headshots and achieve the highest score possible.

I'll prepare a more conventional review in the coming weeks, but if you have a Vita and like military or score attack shooters, you should pick this up.

Change of focus
You know that job I was talking about a few weeks ago? I got an offer and eventually accepted. I'm able to work at a venue that's closer to home for a few days each week, so I'm satisfied that I'll be able to progress my career and have time with my beloved family. I'll still be travelling a bit though, so I'll spend more time playing games on my portables; I might even dabble in some iOS games if nothing else of note is released on the 3DS or Vita (not bloody likely, but I remain open to the possibility).

Wherever possible, I'll sneak some time in with some of the bigger home console releases; but more often than not, you'll be reading about me and my handhelds.

Thanks again for reading, and I hope you all stick around.

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