Section 8 Review - "Like Haze on the 360"

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Review copy provided by the publisher

By Joel Taveras

September 16, 2009

It was about 18 months ago when the world was introduced to a highly anticipated outside-of-the-box thinking shooter by the name of HAZE. Critics and gamers alike pounded it into submission after the games launch. So much so, that the company responsible for that atrocity (Free Radical Design) went out of business because of it. What separated it from other titles at the time was that it was exclusive to the Playstation 3, and because of that it helped fuel many fanboy wars both online and offline. South Peak Studios must have felt that 360 gamers were left out because that would be the only way to describe how bad Section 8 truly is. Congratulations 360 owners, you now have your HAZE and its name is Section 8.

I would get into the story, but even after tearing through the single player campaign in 7 hours (7 hours of my life I will never get back mind you) I can’t even tell you what the hell the game is about, mostly because I honestly do not know. Maybe this excerpt from Section 8’s wiki can fill you in a bit more than I can:

Section 8 takes place in the future after the human race has discovered interstellar travel and has colonized across the galaxy. At the time of the game, a group called the ARM of Orion, has begun to ‘disconnect’ the outermost frontier planets from the main governing body, taking them over while keeping their presence hidden from the government. As space travel is slow, it often takes weeks to communicate with or travel to a frontier world, affording the ARM with enough time to seize worlds and build their base of power, ultimately preparing an ambush for the government forces that will eventually respond. The government then discovers the ARM of Orion, and sends in the 8th Armored Infantry, including Alex Corde (the player), on a mission to investigate, and presumably fight, the ARM invasion

Yeah, well I don’t recall any of that. Probably because how bad of a job the game does at telling it’s story.

I know what you’re all thinking, “it’s a FPS, and it doesn’t need a decent story” and you couldn’t be anymore wrong. When games are this uninteresting it’s really hard to play through them. There are plenty of shooters out there that, as cliché as their storylines may be, still make a point of delivering that story well enough to the player in order to keep them interested throughout. This is not one of those shooters. I went into this game with an open mind and moderately high hopes (I’m always on the look out for the next Halo), but alas I was let down.

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If a game has no personality, hopefully it will at least make up for it in the gameplay department right? Wrong. Section 8, has a somewhat comfortable control scheme, mimicking button layouts of the more popular shooters out there, but when it comes to getting down and dirty in battle that’s when the game really falls apart. Now I’m sure everyone’s experienced choppy framerates in a game before, but nothing will prepare you for what you will experience with Section 8. At one point during an assassination mission, they game slowed down so bad; with my brand new (white box) 360 Elite making such crazy noises that I truly believed I was about to red ring. I was nervous to the point that I almost turned off my 360 altogether.

I was looking high and low in search of something good in this title, but even the sound design was a huge let down. Being somewhat of a home theater enthusiast, I take sound design very seriously, as it provides a level of immersion more so than visuals I think. When it comes to first person shooters sound design is a matter of life and death, if it’s done well enough that is. When playing this game there were too many times when dialogue was too low and sound effects too loud…probably the biggest reason as to why I didn’t get anything out of the story. Also, left and right surround speakers are for the most part quite inactive, even during the cheesiest of B-movie cut scenes. Not every game is made with surround sound in mind, but FPS’ rely on it so heavily that it shouldn’t be done half assed.

I would say something about the multiplayer, but there was NO ONE online to play against. I know that it sounds crazy especially since there’s 20 million plus gold subscribers out there, but none of them were online on Section 8. I figured im probably better off because if the single player is that buggy I can just imagine it online.

I am sure people will be upset with this review, but DualShockers isn’t about sugar coating things like other sites out there. Hopefully developer TimeGate Studios can just take the constructive criticism and learn from the mistakes made here. With all of the hype surrounding this title, I really wanted to like it, just couldn’t bring myself to it. Guess I’ll have to stick to another space marine FPS on my 360. Sigh.

  • Title: Section 8 (360, PC)
  • Developer: TimeGate Studios
  • Publisher: SouthPeak Games
  • MSRP: $59.99 (360) $49.99 (PC)
  • Release Date: Out Now

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Joel Taveras

Joel Taveras is one of the founding members of DualShockers. He hails from New York City where he lives with his wife and two sons. During his tenure with the site, he's held every position from news writer to community manager to editor in chief. Currently he manages the behind the scenes and day-to-day operations at the publication.

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