The first Section 8 game was something of an anomaly, as while it was fairly well received it faded into relative obscurity very quickly and the future fate of the franchise seemed shaky at best. Needless to say not only was the announcement of a sequel a surprise, but said sequel being a download only title? To make sure I come with full clarity, I never played the original game.
It takes a lot of balls to make a first person shooter that focuses on multiplayer a download-only title. It’s hard enough to stand against the giants with a full retail release, let alone an arcade game. Is Section 8 something you’re going to still be playing in a few months, or will the community be dead in another week? Read on to find out.
Section 8: Prejudice boasts that it doesn’t make the same mistake as the first game which apparently had a single player experience that amounted to little more than training for the online component, and while it certainly feels like there’s a fleshed out story and a full experience here I’m not sure how well it achieved that. There is most certainly an overarching story through the very short campaign, but I’m not entirely sure what that story was.
Most of the exposition is giving during brief cinematic videos from time to time and in-game as you stand around waiting for your objectives to update. The biggest part where this falls flat is that it feels like nothing you do is of any consequence, and all of your instructions essentially boil down to “Go to this spot and turn on/off this thing.”
This becomes the biggest drawback to the campaign, which is how predictable it is. Every single one of your objectives is what I just mentioned, and this translates to the gameplay in that every section and objective is in the end exactly the same. It always plays out the same way; go to your objective and shoot the bad guys along the way. When you get there press the button on whatever the Mac Guffin of the level is and wait for the incoming enemy ambush.
This ultimately creates a single player experience where every new objective is met with a sigh and I’m waiting for the point when the villain is finally going to show himself so I can shoot him a few times and end this mind numbingly average experience. It’s actually unfortunate that I felt this way throughout the campaign as every other aspect of the game is extremely solid. The graphics are very clean and nice looking, the gunplay is solid and consistent, and there’s a nice variety to both your own personal arsenal and the enemies you’ll shoot at.
Through the game your available selection of weapons will update, adding a Missile Launcher or a Shotgun to your list of available weapons, all with a variety of different attachments and ammo types available. Your success is greatly centered around choosing a balanced loadout, which you can change often through the campaign as your handlers are keen on getting you a new supply depot at each checkpoint.
This might create a situation where you absolutely NEED the repair wrench to continue, but you actually chose two grenades instead. Thankfully every time this situation occurred the game always had a supply depot nearby where you could adjust your loadout to pick what was needed at hand.
The campaign isn’t bad, and it’s certainly not JUST a training mode for the online mode but the repetitive objectives and dull uninteresting story will leave this as nothing more than an afterthought in most players minds. Thankfully, it seems that was the intention of the developers no matter how they try to spice it up in their advertising materials.
Multiplayer is where this game truly shines, and is where the true value of Section 8: Prejudice presents itself. There are two different modes available, the competitive “Conquest” and the co-operative “Horde” mode called “Swarm”. Swarm is interesting in that it presents a great challenge right from the beginning. Not to say that it feels unfair, but you’re definitely not going to have many free “gimme” rounds. Like all modes of this type it’s best enjoyed with friends, and while very solid there’s not much to say about it. You’ve played this game mode in Gears of War, Halo, Call of Duty and Left 4 Dead with different names and themes, but you should know how it goes by now.
Conquest however is where the meat of the game seems to be focused. You choose your loadout similar to how it’s done in single player, with more items and weapons unlocking as you level up. There are a lot of things to eventually unlock, but you start off with a pretty wide selection of tools are your disposal. As each match starts you can choose to either spawn with your squad or do a “free spawn”, which lets you choose any spot on the map to spawn in.
When you’ve selected your spawn location, you deploy onto the map and you literally do just that. The doors of the ship you were in open up, and your launched into a free-fall at your desired location. Your enemies can deploy anti-air guns (as can you), but you can see the radius of these when choosing a spawn location. You land, draw your gun and it’s time to go.
This is a nice interesting change of pace from games with set spawn locations, and similar to Homefront you can get a nice view of where the action is before you actually get into the round which makes getting killed out of spawn almost entirely your fault. This effectively takes away one of the most frustrating things about any game with a spawn, and it’s very refreshing.
There are other approaches to taking out your enemies and defending your objectives than the guns in your hand, though those will undoubtedly be getting the most use out of anything. There is however a rewards/points system which gives you money for completing objectives or getting kills, which you can then use to purchase a variety of things from an Anti-Air cannon to a Missile Turret, or even an armored mech or tank. These can greatly turn the tide of a battle, but not a single one is game breaking.
While I said that the single player didn’t feel like a training mode for the multiplayer component, that’s not entirely true because the core objective is still the same. There are a number of objective points on the map, and you gain points for controlling them. To do this you go up to the objective and press A, then stand in the general vicinity of the terminal to finish taking control of it. Where this becomes interesting is that thanks to the open-spawn mechanic of the game reinforcements either for you or your enemies can drop down at any moment.
This all combines to create some very tense situations. You have to pay close attention to your surroundings at all times as you never know when that clear mountaintop you just passed by is going to have an enemy drop down on top of it. Thankfully if you are paying attention this is very obvious, as you can look up in the air and see as your teammates and enemies drop in. Similarly to how you can see your enemies as you drop in, you can be seen and this again comes around to create as equal a playing field as possible.
Section 8: Prejudice is an interesting game. If you’re looking for a solid, engaging single player experience I have to very strongly suggest you look somewhere else. However if you’re looking for a very solid and stable multiplayer experience that’s different enough from all the other things out there that it doesn’t even really warrant any comparisons, this is a game you’re going to want to look very closely at. The game boasts a large variety in everything it does, from your personal equipment to your weapon loadout.
It’s not going to be winning any GOTY awards but Section 8: Prejudice is a very solid experience, and might be just what you’re looking for to break up the monotony of the current online selections.
- Title: Section 8: Prejudice
- Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360
- Developer: TimeGate Studios
- Publisher: Microsoft
- Release Date: April 20, 2011
- MSRP: $15 / 1200 Microsoft Points
- Review Copy Info: A download code for this title was provided to DualShockers, Inc. by the publisher for the purpose of this review.