May 12, 2011
You sir, are Section 8. An elite unit of soldiers literally equipped with cutting edge weapons and technology from head to toe. I'm not kidding, unless there's a story event going on, you're covered in a cybernetic suit designed to serve up some pain. At any rate, the story is a short one and quite the summer action flick cliche. It's not necessarily a bad thing, although it would've been great if there was some substance to it.
Apparently, the Senate and Section 8's predecessors managed to piss off the wrong people: the original Armoured Infantry unit, now Section 8, were soldiers who were genetically enhanced in order to wipe out any species that stood in the way of human colonization out on the final frontier, "without prejudice," no less. Now they're back and thirsty for blood. What starts out as a jailbreak quickly turns into a chaotic scramble for survival. While the story isn't that amazing, TimeGate have managed to create some pretty high octane pacing that's only broken up by loading screens between missions.
I did say it was like a summer action flick, the only thing missing is some Arnie, but Sergeant Graves does make up for that. Somewhat.
The single player acts as a tutorial to get players up to speed on what to expect in the multiplayer. Objectives are thrown at you on the fly with markers and waypoints to lead the way. You'll be running a lot between points, sometimes even backtracking. Most of the time, you'll be tasked with destroying key objectives, hacking terminals, fixing something or dropping batteries from the sky. At times, a lot of ground needs to be covered and this is where Overdrive comes in. Sprint for so long and you can trigger Overdrive (or set it to do it automatically). You'll be dashing towards any objective at Flash Gordon speeds in no time.
When it comes to shooters, the gameplay mechanics had damn well better be good. Section 8 falls somewhat flat in this regard. It's not terrible by any means, but it can certainly be better. If anything, the game shoots a lot like Halo and maybe even some old school Quake Team Arena, albeit slightly sluggishly and with less impact. There's just no kick to any of the weapons, be they assault rifles, machine guns or even the flipping rocket launchers. They literally go "pew, pew, pew." There's also an lock-on feature that lets you lock onto any moving target for a few seconds, making it especially easier to hit flying targets. To be honest, the knife is the saving grace. Fatal kills pull the camera back from first person into third person view, showcasing your melee kill, not unlike the assassinations seen in Halo 3 (these aren't exclusive to the knife, you can pull off a Fatality with a mech as well, it's rather brutal).
Nevertheless, the overall core gameplay can be rather enjoyable. The whole drop-shock concept returns and you'll be blasting your way into the planet's atmosphere from orbital dropships in the sky. It's a neat mechanic and one that makes you feel like you're in an epic sci-fi flick. If you're accurate enough, you can land on someone down below, effectively killing them without firing a single round. Unfortunately, the whole human-canon mechanic gets old rather quickly, especially in the online multiplayer. To be fair, there is no cooldown for respawns, so the drop-in kind of replaces that.
On that note, Section 8: Prejudice offers four different game modes. One of which is the campaign, the rest are Conquest, Swarm and the recently unlocked Assault mode. These modes can be simply described as a culmination of popular game types from other shooters on the market. Conquest mode plays a lot like Battlefield, where players fight for control over key points on the map. However, it's not just a copy-and-paste job, in the midst of battling over control points, objectives are given on the fly and players will be tasked with completing them for extra points. It's like the love-child of Killzone 3's Warzone and Battlefield's Conquest mode.
Battles can get rather intense with huge firefights taking place all over a map, especially since there's support for 32 players. Not to mention the ability to purchase armaments and vehicles on the fly if you have enough dough. Players can place turrets, supply depots, anti-air emplacements and even call down vehicles and mechs if the situation calls for it. This introduces a certain level of strategy to the game, as turrets and anti-air canons will definitely affect the flow of drop-ins from the enemy team. There's a downside to this though, as the game progresses and if the other team has control over most of the key points, you'll be left with very few options as to where to drop in. Anti-air flak will literally rip you to shreds if you decide to drop down into an enemy base.
Swarm is a four-player co-operative mode that pits players against hordes of enemies. Think Left 4 Dead, Zombies in Call of Duty or even Horde mode from Gears of War. It's not all that dissimilar. Every so often, players can call down an airstrike that will wipe out all remaining bots on the map. The newly unlocked Assault mode will have players racing to capture key points throughout the map as fast as possible in order to be victorious.
In addition, there's quite a bit of customization to be had. While you won't be attaching scopes, changing barrels or adding perks to your gear, there is quite a variety of weapons and sub-options like various ammunition types, grenades and tools at your disposal. Certain ammunition work better against vehicles while others will deal massive damage to infantry troops. Some are more efficient against energy shields while others have better armour penetration. You can get the idea. You can also customize your character by allotting points to certain stats. Depending on what you want, you can increase bullet damage, boost your Overdrive limit, increase the rate of recovery for it, et cetera, et cetera. In the end, it's best if you play around with it to find something you're comfortable with - or tailor it to suit the occasion. Oh, and you also have a jetpack you can use to rain down death from above.
As for the visuals. It looks neither spectacular, nor does it look terrible. The maps can be quite large though and the vistas that stretch out into the backdrop are rather nice. The overall level design can be hit-and-miss, with some offering rather exciting battlegrounds while others are just a head-scratcher with control points spread around the perimeter while an open area lies slap-dab in the middle. Anyone attempting to go through No Man's Land immediately becomes sniper fodder. The audio, as mentioned earlier, really needs some improvement as weapons just don't feel like they have any impact on the world. Not to mention, the music is awfully generic.
All in all, Section 8: Prejudice certainly offers a lot of bang for buck. There's a lot to go through for only $15. However, it's hard to say if Section 8 is at all a great game. If anything, it generally does things rather well and it's probably accurate to describe it as an amalgamation of many popular shooters on the market today. However, it doesn't quite make the stretch as an impressive shooter, settling only for standard fare in many aspects. The gameplay, while fast and action-packed, has little to no kick whatsoever. Overdrive and jetpacks are neat additions, but add little to the actual experience. The campaign is very cliche and predictable and serves as a tutorial for the online multiplayer, despite being much more fleshed out than its predecessor. Regardless, the multiplayer is where the game truly shines, offering huge battles with dynamic objectives that change on the fly. In short, this is a fun game, but it's not a must-have. Unless you're all out of shooters to play, there's little reason to pick up Section 8: Prejudice save for the low price alone. Then again, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is available for only $5 more on Steam.
Section 8: Prejudice was reviewed on the PC. You can read more about GamingUnion.net's scoring policy here.