TimaGate's sequel hot-drops in and tackles the industry with extreme Prejudice
There's nothing better than a studio who learns from their past endeavours, and not only have TimeGate Studios stepped up their game with their latest title -Section 8: Prejudice - but they've also come to understand their market and what they need to do to be successful in it. There's no shame in admitting that you're probably never going to beat the likes of Call of Duty, Battlefield et al, but a decent studio will still find a way to remain competitive.
Infantry on Mech, Mech on Mech, Mech on Infantry... there's a few kill moves to play around with
The original Section 8, whilst by no means a poor game, simple wasn't up to par with the great shooters of day and yet was still priced almost as much as those same games. Add low server populations and a lack-lustre single-player mode, and it would be fair to say you weren't exactly getting value for money. Still, there was a good formula there, and Prejudice has taken that and propelled it to the next level, with one key theme in mind - Value.
For a company that's recently gone into the risky business of self-publishing, this is a very bold move. The "Downloadable AAA" market as they call it is an as of yet un-mapped space, with only games like Blacklight: Tango Down and Breach being true contenders. These titles weren't exactly critical successes, although commercial success differed between the titles. Prejudice goes above and beyond both of these titles though by providing more content and the production values to go with it, whilst still pricing it no more than your average arcade or indie title.
In Section 8: Prejudice, you return to play as Captain Corde, head of the 1st Recon unit in the 8th Armoured Infantry, nicknamed 'Section 8' (after the US Military code declaring someone mentally unfit for service) after their penchant for taking on tough missions. The single-player campaign, admittedly, still isn't the best thing about the game. It's still on the short side, with the company reporting it to be around five hours, although thankfully this time it's more than the glorified tutorial of the first game.
But with cheesy bravado, clichéd objectives, and some really cringe-worthy dialogue, you still sometimes feel like you're watching a cheap Sci-Fi movie from the eighties. Still, it's fast paced, you're always moving (even through plot sections) and the plot at least tries to be engaging this time around. It's nothing special, but it goes a long way to put the previous game into some kind of context and answer some questions - which is always good in our books. Not to mention the campaign (and the game in general) is actually challenging, even on medium, thanks to the AI that the game packs.
The graphics may be a bit dated, but the Unreal 3 tech behind it does give the game it's moments sometimes...
As before though, the focus of Prejudice will be the multiplayer. As of writing (and launch), there are two multiplayer modes available: Conquest and Swarm. Conquest is the same mode from the original game: Two teams for a total of 32 players (40 on PC) battle it out to try and be the first to reach a score of 1000. To do this, you need to capture control points, kill the other team, and complete Dynamic Combat Missions (DCMs), which are mini-games you can trigger whilst the larger battle is waging.
This is still a surprisingly fun mode. Not only do you have enemies appearing from nearly anywhere - what with the spawning done by 'hot-dropping' onto the battlefield, but the added deployable gun emplacements and wonderfully crafted maps always keep things interesting. We'd be exaggerating if we said something puffy like "no two matches are the same", but Conquest battles are highly dynamic. The DCM's as well provide a nice distraction, and any one of nine missions - from airstrikes, to protecting a VIP, to setting up a forward outpost, can trigger provided the prerequisites are met. It's still a little tricky figuring out how one starts a DCM, but to be honest the AI is pretty good at firing those for you anyway.
A new mode for Prejudice is the 'Swarm' mode. No matter how you look at it, this is yet a another hoard mode as has been the trend recently, but again, given its features: deployable, hot-dropping... even DCM's can kick off as well, TimeGate have managed to put their own stamp on things. Swarm see's you and three teammates gather around a single control point, and you need to defend it for a certain amount of time from swarm after swarm of invading enemies. You still get 'unlimited' lives so to speak - so you can hot drop back in if you die, but the team loses if the enemy manages to hack the control point and steal it from you.
Aside from the actual gameplay, there's a wealth of customization and unlockables to appeal to even the most hardcore of progressionists (yeah, ok, I made that word up). There's seven weapons, six secondary tools, as well as ammo and type variations associated with each. Most of these need to be unlocked though across the 85 levels (a bit excessive maybe, but whatever), and there's also integrated clan support and proper leaderboards, even on the console. There are differing armour permutations as well although this doesn't seem to be as extensive as you'd think, and we're not sure there's even that many of them. Your load-outs, along with choosing what weapons etc... you want, can be further customised by tweaking your character itself. There' are eight fields that govern different parts of combat - from accuracy, to shields, to power... and you have a limited number of points to improve these to your liking.
Teamwork is important in this game. No, really, it is...
There are few other bits and bobs - Overdrive, self-hosting (along with dedicated servers), full offline support, Execution moves (oh, the execution moves!) etc... that we haven't talked about, but I'm sure you'll agree there's still enough content here to rival even the most AAA of AAA release. At £10 ($15 for you Americans, or 13 Euros, OR 1200 MS Points), you really can't ask for more, and at the very least TimeGate have provided value for money. It's not perfect, but we highly recommend this title to all FPS fans looking for something fresh to bide the time.
SECTION 8: PREJUDICE VERDICT
Section 8: Prejudice is currently out now on XBLA. It will be hitting the PC on all downloadable platforms on May 4th, and it will be coming to the PSN sometime in the summer.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Frantically trying to defend your position in a swarm match can be exhilarating.