Brace yourselves as Section 8 drops onto our rader. Does it do the job? Or will it get shot in midair
It was only a few short months ago that we brought you a sneak peak of Section 8’s multiplayer beta, and now the futuristic FPS with some new ideas is back. TimeGate Studios, a company who made their name in the strategy genre, and more recently, expansions for the first F.E.A.R game, have developed something that, whilst not perfect, is still a somewhat unique and enjoyable experience.
Make no mistake; Section 8 is all about the multiplayer mode. Those of you who have been following the coverage on Section 8 will know that the single-player mode was kept under tight guard right up until release, with only a few previews given. Generally speaking this is done for one of two reasons: Either the feature isn’t going to be that good, or it’s going to do something so amazing/groundbreaking, they don’t want to spoil the surprise. Unfortunately with Section 8 it seems to be a case of the former.
Yes, it's just as fun as it looks.
Even though all bases start off neutral, you still can't jump right on top of them.
Comprising a mere 8 (coincidence?) missions, one can’t help but feel that the campaign, titled ‘Corde’s Story’ is as short as it is shallow. There’s little background to anything; Corde, the War, the Villain, and the scripting seems a tad clichéd. Even the ending, which hints at a possible sequel, is a bit 'Hollywood', and in the end it all seemed so generic you suspect TimeGate may have done it on purpose. It’s a shame really, because the opening trailer (the one where the trooper has his visions) that was released a few months ago hinted at a potentially deep and interesting story, and is far more interesting than the entire campaign put together. TimeGate seems to have missed a trick here, as even the blatant Americanised future that they paint just begs further exploration.
Still, what the game lacks in single player, it makes up for in multiplayer and in pure gameplay. At the very least, it can be said that the campaign acts as an ‘introduction’ to the game itself, and sets you up quite nicely for online play.
Despite this being a FPS game, you can’t help but spy hints and influences from the company’s strategy-laden past. Unlike most shooters, there no solid ‘frontlines’ in this game, and combat is extremely tactical and fluid. The epitome of this lies in the way players spawn onto the battlefield. In a system first seen in Medal of Honour: Vanguard, and later, Airborne, players ‘hotdrop’ onto the battlefield from an orbiting spaceship. When enemies can appear from literally anywhere, it’s hard to form a cohesive defence... but then again that’s half the fun. In order to counter this, you can deploy turrets and similar structures to help defend important positions, which includes AA emplacements.
The games baddies: The ARM of Orion. Not sure what they’re about...
We came, we saw, we hacked.
Tactical awareness in Section 8 is paramount, and it almost becomes an art form trying to ‘guess’ where the enemy is going to burn in next, and making sure you’re there to show them what’s what. Everything costs ‘money’ to deploy, which is earned as you fight, and deployables are also fairly simple to kill which means nothing should be taken for granted. To further fan the flames, you can also summon down vehicles – whether that be an armoured suite or a tank.
The typical game mode is a Domination type system, whereby a team has to be the first to reach 1000 points. On the map are several bases, and control of these bases generates points. Bases also come equipped with their own standard deployable emplacements, preventing the enemy from hotdropping right on top of you (sort of), and assisting your team in defending the entrances. Further to this however are the Dynamic Combat Missions, or DCMs. These are best described as meta-games of side quests that you can activate at any time during a match, provided you meet the perquisites (these usually revolve around certain actions or feats). Successful completion of these missions will award your team with extra bonus points, and the enemy is always given a chance to thwart you, which gives them points (and you can thwart their missions as well). Not only are there a lot of these missions, they are varied, and can even be used multiple times, ensuring a quick road to victory provided you work as a team.
Another key point of this game is its customisability. Using a class system that you can find in the likes of Call of Duty, one may carry two weapons with them into the field, along with two support accessories. These support items can range from a shoulder mounted mortar, to a healing tool, to a mobile sensor array. The main weapons are fairly standard, perhaps a tad limited and uninspiring, but they get the job done. The real customization however comes from the passive modules. These are basically a list of stat attributes that you can put points in to ‘specialise’ yourself. Fancy yourself a sniper? Then equip some anvil rounds in order to kill your enemies quicker. Do you like leading from the front? Then a mixture of weapon, shield and health boosters is in order so that you can get stuck and live to tell the tale.
Even though there isn’t a ton of options, there’s enough to ensure a respectable amount of diversity within the player base. It would have been nice to see a few more weapons, and even vehicles, to give off a more rounded arsenal, but with any luck things like that can be added in as DLC. Also, whilst you can equip a knife as a secondary weapon, these days a standardised ‘melee’ action should be included in all FPS games, so it’s a tad disappointing not to be able to beat down if your enemy gets too close.
The campaign may be rather ‘cinematic’, but that’s all it is.
Red Bull gives you Wings.
With integrated clan and team mechanics, it’s easy to imagine this becoming one of the most intense and interesting multiplayer experiences around, and may even be a precursor to MAG. PC users will be able to enjoy up to 64 players on a dedicated server, whilst 360 users will be able to muck it in with around 32 – a high point for the console. However, even without its drawbacks, it will be interesting to see how it fairs up when Modern Warfare 2 and ODST hit the market.
Top Game Moment:
SECTION 8 VERDICT
Whilst Section 8 may not be revolutionary, it’s a refreshing take on the genre. Provided they can iron out all the kinks that have cropped up with multiplayer and the servers, this could be one mean online game. The multiplayer aspect alone will add to the longevity of this title for many months yet. However, the rather lack-lustre single player mode means that a lot is riding on keeping people interested in online play, and the developers are going to have to keep on their toes in order to make sure this game gets the attention it deserves.
TOP GAME MOMENT
Hot dropping along the edge of an enemy controlled base, then drifting and landing through the roof before the AA turrets can nab you. Stylish.