|a game by||TimeGate Studios, Inc.|
|Platforms:||XBox 360, PC|
|User Rating:||9.3/10 - 3 votes|
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|See also:||First Person Shooter|
Angry Looking Army men from the future wearing Halo clothes and firing big guns about the place - Section 8 isn't about to win any awards for originality, unless they're comically oversized and handed out in a very sarcastic way. But while the multiplayer shooter is undeniably a mash of ideas respectably lifted from some of our genre favourites, the end result thankfully falls closer to the sum of its parts, rather than a disjointed and repulsive mess on the floor.
Battlefield 2142 is the most obvious touch-point here, and TimeGate's version of DICE'S (and before that Robert Heinlein's) drop-pods, which they call "burning in", presents some of the game's unique features. Areas of the map marked in red are defended by antiaircraft guns, and dropping into these areas will ensure a swift fiery death. But barrage that defended area with fistfuls of players and a lucky few will make it.
Achieve a certain number of kills and you'll trigger an event such as escorting a heavily armoured commando into an enemy base, or attacking a high-profile target - very much a Quake Wars influence, though expanded beyond that title's simple build-stuff/repair-stuff slant.
There's even a hint of Tribes in Section tfs jetpacks, but you won't be skating around the terrain and jumping off mountain peaks, rather you'll be jumping extra high at the push of a button. It leads into the ability to build defensive turrets around key objectives (Quake Wars again) to swat jetpackers out of the sky. Amass enough points and you'll be purchasing structures - which drop out of orbit - such as automatic rocket launchers, vehicles and power suits.
After our brief time with it Section 8s quilt of ideas does seem to hang together coherently. It's a fast-paced, high-end multiplayer shooter, and hosts enough interesting features to make it worthy of your attention. Whether TimeGate have done enough to make the game stand out under its own merits is another matter entirely.
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Section 8 Are the craziest sons of bitches in the intergalactic space corps. Men with mental issues that lead them to take extreme risks, fire themselves at planets, and act like big manly war bastards. Wearing their prototype suits, the S8 troopers are the first wave of attack, shot from the atmosphere into war zones, and sent to capture bases on hostile planets.
That's the setup, and it's familiar enough, so let's try to focus on what makes Section 8 interesting. It's not the single-player mode, which is worth playing only as a tutorial. It introduces the familiar processes of point capture, and the innovative element of Section 8: the "burn-in" that lets you enter a map from above, at almost any point (enemy AA guns permitting - but you can always take them out once you've landed). And there are requisition points that let you buy turrets, radar-boosting sensor arrays, and vehicles.
But there's a reason single-player is the third option on the main menu: Section 8 is a multiplayer creature. Sadly, my attempts to join matches mainly lumped me in with 31 moronic bots, which is possibly the matchmaking routines having a joke at my expense.
When you do play other people, every map is a point-capture map. The levels unfold uniquely, though, thanks to the fact you enter the map where you want, set up deployable gears where you see fit, and issue Dynamic Combat Missions. These take the form of escort, capture the flag, or attack missions, that boost your team's score if completed.
One team's mission gives the other team the opposing objective - base defence, assassinate, and so on - and really breaks up the level into chapters. It also means that getting organised is much more effective than being a squad of 16 lone wolves.
So, Section 8 does things in its own way. In an ideal world, this would be a great thing. But the interaction between the troopers' excessive shields and weapons is unintuitive. A lot of understanding Section 8 lies in working out how the weapons behave, and playing to your classes strengths. Until you do that, you'll end up emptying clip after clip of bullets into an enemy's head, without understanding why he isn't dying.
Section 8 has a peculiar but not unappealing taste: but once you cash in your nontransferable Games For Windows - Live code its resale value is nil. So this is absolutely a game where downloading a demo makes sense. Which is a damn shame, as SouthPeak have decided there won't be one for the PC. Just another example of unacceptable console favouritism.