Review – Section 8: Prejudice
The long-awaited sequel to Section 7: Bigotry.
Most people labelled the original Section 8 as ‘Big Dumb Space Marine Shooter #3C15’ which is exactly how it looked on the surface. Peel away at the outward layers however and you’ll find so much more than just the standard death-matching game. The original was met with praise and detraction in equal measure but even the developers – Timegate Studios knew they took a risk with a game that was heavily focused on its online combat modes, so what did they do? the sensible thing of course (a rarity in these days). They released it in such a manner as to make it more attainable to people as a downloadable arcade title and they slashed the price from roughly 4000 space points to only 1200, it’s cheaper but certainly not a cheap game.
You’d instantly be wrong in comparing this to a Halo clone when infact it’s got more in common with a game like Team Fortress, your space marine comes with a set of pre selected class options (engineer, scout, assault etc) but most people will want to make their own for each occasion. Two weapons from the usual selection (assault rifle, machine gun, pistol, missile launcher etc), two accessories (repair tools, jammers, mortars, knifes etc) and then 10 points to spend on improving various aspects of your suit (shield capacity, armour recharge, repair tool speed, bullet damage etc) effectively allow you to create anything from your own bullet sponge to a fast moving flying ninja. Weapons are also customised with upgrades you obtain for completing different feats or by rising up through the ranks. Upgrades to drain shields, burn armour, slow enemy movement and so on effectively mean the same weapon on the battlefield will rarely kill you in the game twice.
Your space marine has a few extra tricks up his sleeves in the form of a jetpack, the ability to ‘overdrive’ or sprint at massive speeds across the battlefield and also to ‘lock-on’ to fast moving enemies for a few seconds, these abilities need time to recharge but can be enhanced with the afore mentioned suit points, obviously at the cost of armour and other abilities. Everyone will find their own class and style to play and the best part being that these mods, upgrades and points are actually useful and don’t just add a shiny tint to your gun. The most unique difference about Section 8 has to be the way you spawn on the map; rather than just appearing, you are fired from a orbiting dropship like an “express elevator to hell – going down” in a pod, thus removing the opportunity for camping gits and their oh so cheap kills. Active anti air guns prevent you from dropping directly into the enemy base during tea time but so long as their defences are down you can drop pretty much anywhere on the map – even aim your landing mid air. Leave it too late to slam on the breaks and you forcefully thud into the ground requiring you some time to regain your balance and even recharge your shields.
The single player is slightly meatier than the original but it’s not going to blow you away with any kind of immersive environment and set pieces. A long time ago in a galaxy far far away two groups of space marines decide to knock the shit out of each other ~ Fin. Here is where you’re most constricted in how you play, no dropping in, a slower pace and you don’t have to ability to spawn turrets whenever you want, completely understandable of course because much like the original the focus is still heavily on the online modes and this is just an introduction to the basic mechanics of the world, all be it slightly better paced this time round.
Multiplayer comes in two distinct flavours, Conquest mode and the now standard Swarm (read: horde/firefight) mode. Most gamers are probably getting fed up with fighting waves and waves of enemies but the difference here is that you can loose without ever dying and you can win even though you died hundreds of times. Waves of enemies of increasing strength try to rush your base and capture your control point all the while you shoot, drop turrets and vehicles like a 3D version of Desktop Tower Defence, they do the killing, you earn the bucks and you buy some more. Saving up for vehicles makes good sense as the mechsuit and very beefy tank make a welcome return, with a new arrival in the form of the hoverbike. Of course there are limits to prevent you abusing this advantage as each play can drop only so many vehicles, turrets, sensors, supply depots etc on the map at any one time so you are going to have to do a fair amount of shooting yourself.
Section 8: Prejudice is something of a weird game to review. I know that there have been a lot of direct to download budget FPS games on the consoles recently but Section 8 once a upon a time was actually a disc based game and one can only assume that the developers used those resources to make this quite frankly excellent downloadble FPS with a standard five hour single player mode and what might be one of the best Multiplayer components I have played on a shooter on the Xbox 360 to date.
First of all I would like to say that yeah this game has some problems. It’s design of sorts is a mixture between Warhammer 40k and Halo with a little bit of Tribes thrown in which is both odd and a little unsettling at the same time. The single player levels are also a little generic design wise with an ice world and a fire world, at one point I was expecting a minecart world. Joking aside though the biggest problem with me at the moment is that this game does hard lock my machine from time to time which is annoying. No other game has done this on my Xbox 360 slim yet and I have heard reports from other fellow peowwsters that they have had crashes due to playing this game too.
Other than that though this is a mainly multiplayer focused game and the co-op Swarm mode is fantastic but the real star is the main Vs. Multiplayer which forces two teams for sixteen people (thirty-two players) to duke it out complete with base and vehicle building. Know what to build and when is important and unlike 95% of online shooters these days Section 8 actually requires some tactics to win and you will have to work together to achieve your goals. For this I highly recommend you pick this game up, for 1200 Microsoft Points this is easily one of the best XBLA games released this year and there are plenty of people who are playing it so check it out now and try the demo!
Secondary Score: 8/10
Conquest is my personal favourite mode, not because of the fairly standard ‘capture the base’ mechanic (which I love), or the deployables (which I love) or the unique characters and skills you can create (which I love) but rather the Dynamic Combat Missions (DCMs) that occur mid-battle. After a team meets certain conditions during the match one of several DCM’s will automatically start, you may hear the call to protect your AI VIP who is dropping in, drive a convoy to its destination, eliminate marked members of the enemy team, jump in a powered suit and capture a specific enemy outpost, secure a landing site for your own portable outpost or several others. You are time restricted to complete the task and of course the opposing team will try and stop you (and you during their DCM’s) but complete these (or prevent theirs) to receive a sizable point boost thus furthering you closer to the score limit of 1000. Literally dropping whatever you’re doing and heading straight to the objective is often the best advice. Points withstanding, there’s usually an extra benefit of completion be it, keeping the armoured convoy truck, having the AI VIP help you or getting to stroll around in your powered infiltrator suit for the rest of the game. The DCMs are excellently implemented and keep the game fast paced and frantic. Much like every other aspect, non-compliance to work as a team for the greater goal will result in failure – this game is not for the loan wolf, certainly not when they’re up against a well oiled ‘goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus’ of a team.
There’s so much to like from this game from the amusingly named achievements (there’s always money in the banana stand) to most importantly it’s affordability. I honestly can’t say that last time a game has felt like true value for money, like the original I will continue to dip in and out whenever the skirmish notion takes me and with more game options on the way I’ll gladly drop more cash into this one.
Negatives could come in the form of the poor story and design of the campaign but frankly I’d gladly give this game 10/10 just for the amount of fun the game provides me and many others from the thriving community. Any negatives can easily be brushed aside with all of the positives that have already been listed.