October 12th, 2009, 15:34 Posted By: skynes
Platform: PC, XBox 360
Developer: TimeGate Studios
Publisher: SouthPeak Games
Section 8 is a sci-fi first person shooter powered by the Unreal Engine. The first noticeable thing when you start this game is the odd organisation of the menu. Now normally in a game you would have Campaign followed by Multiplayer. In section 8 you have Multiplayer then Instant Action then Corde's Story? This tells you straight away that, first and foremost, this is a multiplayer game. Your campaign (Corde's Story) is essentially training for the multiplayer.
Once playing the actual game you'll notice that it's pretty. It's very pretty. The armour looks awesome, the spaceships looks amazing, the detail is great. It's what you'd expect from a game built upon the Unreal Engine. Therein lies the first problem, even if you don't bother reading the box within minutes of play you'll recognise this as an Unreal game. The environments, the textures, the objects, the playstyle. They all scream UNREAL at the top of their lungs. Now this isn't a bad thing, the Unreal games are excellent and the engine is a fantastic product, but given what else has been done with the Unreal Engine, like Bioshock, it isn't wrong to expect something a bit more original.
The Campaign itself is a series of missions in the style of Unreal Assault maps. You drop in at one location and have to go to another location killing off continuously spawning nameless enemies while capturing points or destroying objects. You are limited in the area you can explore by a red border on the minimap. Entering this border will shut down your system in 5 seconds, in other words, kill you. But death isn't a big deal in this game, you die, you click, you spawn in orbit again and free fall to your spawn point before crashing into the ground and you're ready to go. During this time the game continued on without you, just like a game of Unreal Tournament would.
The story is unimportant and forgettable. You're with one military group fighting another military group and trying to kill a defector who turned from your group to theirs. You're not given much information on who anyone is or why you're fighting. Even when members of your team get killed off, you just don't care. There's no real bond between the player and the characters formed and the game doesn't try to make them. This leads to a very bland story where you're more interested in gunning things than why you're gunning them.
The game advertises it as being able to 'Fully Customise your armour and weapons for tactical advantages'. What this means in practice is that when you go to a weapon drop pod you can choose what two weapons you carry into battle. Your choices are Assault Rifle, Shotgun, Rocket Launcher, Pistol or Sniper Rifle. You can also choose your secondary items such as a mortar, a knife, a repair kit etc. As for the armour customising you have 10 points to split among a bunch of skills. These skills are things like +5% damage to your weapons, -10% recoil, +12% armour or bonuses to your repair and shield recharge speed. These Give you a degree of control on your playstyle. However in the heat of battle you'll find that the difference between these is so insignificant you might as well have not bothered.
Little of how combat works is actually explained to you. Given that this is an FPS it should be straightforward, but sometimes you'll find your shots ignore the enemies shield and hurt him directly for huge damage. Other times you'll find no matter how many bullets you pump into him you can't dent him. Even the Sniper rifle is little more than an inconvenience to enemies, its advantage is clearly in the range not the ability to head shot people. Given the unclear nature of combat you'll find yourself using an Assault Rifle and Rocket Launcher for most situations.
The real meat of this game is in the multiplayer, for which there is only one gameplay mode. A strange victory point collection game, you get points for killing your opponents and capturing and holding points. You gain money as you complete these tasks which allows you to buy items such as a mech suit, a tank or various anti-tank/personnel/air weapons. These help with defending a point and give you a bit of control over how you defend. Xbox 360 owners will be disappointed to learn that there is no split-screen multiplayer in this game. So you can't play with your friends on the same console, it's online multiplayer only.
A couple of interesting things Section 8 brings to the table is a lock on. When you right click to aim if you press E you'll lock onto whoever is in your sights and for the next few seconds you can fire without worrying about tracking them as the aim never moves off them. It only has a short duration and a fairly long cooldown so this can't be spammed. If you get injured in Section 8, your shield will automatically restore over time, your health doesn't. To restore your health you either stand near a weapons pod and it will heal you, or if you chose the repair kit amongst your items you can heal yourself, an ally or any deployable such as the tanks or turrets.
Overall Section 8 is an ok sci-fi shooter. It doesn't excel in any area and is fairly poor in the campaign story. If you like Unreal based shooters for online multiplayer than you might like this. If you prefer more single player story action or playing with people in the same room then Section 8 is not the game for you.
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