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Section 8

Score: 90%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Southpeak Interactive
Developer: Timegate Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 32 (Online)
Genre: First Person Shooter/ Online/ Shooter

Graphics & Sound:

I have been waiting for a very long time to get my hands on Section 8. I enjoyed every second I could score in the beta. Now that I have the full version in my hands, it was hard to tear myself away to write this. But sacrifices must be made; plus after you're done reading this, I hope you will join me. Anyway, I need more kills, I mean teammates. Obviously there is not a huge change on how things have worked between the demo and the game, but I did get to play through the single player missions that were obviously not available. I just want to reiterate what I said about the beta in my preview. I love that there is so much more than just "run forward and shoot" to this game.

It is a good game. The environments are vast and at times very beautiful. They offer lots of cover and open areas in which to operate vehicles. There are some areas that just feel too sparse. I felt that enemy and friendly units looked very similar, especially at a distance, but it is easy to tell after some time of play. The theory that "if they shoot at you, they are the enemy" doesn't apply here, as new players are always taking shots at you if startled. The game's look was good, but wasn't as polished as I was hoping it could have been. There are some very well-polished particle animations and explosions I thought were visually superb, but the overall look of gameplay was just a little rough in places.

The sound provided you with everything you need to understand what was happening around you. I don't know that there was a huge take away, once you turned the game off, such that you were going to recall any music or special weapons fire. All of it was up to par with what was needed to use the sound to understand the action. Again, don't get me wrong; if I was asked to identify one weapon's sound in-game from that of another, I couldn't. But the best of this game doesn't lie in sound.


Gameplay:

Section 8 is all about the action. And, for this title, so was I. When the ground that was once just a speck on a screen of my battle cruiser is now the earth that is rocketing towards me as I punch into the atmosphere, it is a bit of a rush. But before we burn in, let's start from the beginning.

While still safely aboard your ship, you will choose which side you will represent, and what your load-out is going to be. The name Section 8 refers to Earth's Eighth Armoured Infantry. They have been dispatched to quell the frontier planets' insurrection known as The Arm of Orion. To take on this threat, you will be equipped with special armour and weapons. There are several preselected load-outs that you can choose from. The best part is that you can fully customize all of your load-outs to suit the needs of your particular battle style. There are no major restrictions. This armour protects you as you deploy. The armor can utilize its air brakes to land softly and at full health onto the battlefield, but it also allows you to slam in hard and fast, never allowing your enemy to get a good shot at you. Both have benefits, but they both have their disadvantages as well. A slow, soft descent allows enemies to get a good look at where you are and where you are landing, but you land safely. Coming in hot can help you break through areas guarded by anti-air defenses, but hits the ground hard enough to take off some shield energy and leave you dazed for a moment.

What you can't carry with you into battle, you can have sent to you via air mail. Tanks, heavy armor, AA guns, sensors, and supplies can be requisitioned in the heat of battle. Every man or piece of equipment you kill on the battlefield earns you requisition points. These requisition points can then be used to call in these supplies. Besides just earning these requisition points, you will earn feats. These feats add up until you can activate Dynamic Combat Missions. These missions, when complete, count heavily towards your victory points that decide the battle.

You are aided in getting around the battlefield by your suit's jet pack and speed boost features. Death from above is not limited only to dropping in through the atmosphere. These features are also handy in keeping you alive during a firefight. The drop-in units like the tank and power armour sacrifice speed for great fireworks. You will learn to counteract their massive firepower with the speed and maneuverability of your suit.

There is a single player section of the game that serves as the standard tutorial for new players before they get into multi-player battle. I call it that, because hey, that is what it is, but that is not doing it full justice. I was actually surprised how long the single player campaign was. It was also more involved than I thought I was going to get for the "tutorial." There is a very noticeable A.I. gap when you play a linear FPS and when you are playing bots on a Massive Multi-player FPS. The subtlety may be like being able to tell wines apart, but you just can tell the play is different. You could tell that throughout the single player game, making nothing any more easy or difficult, you could just feel it.

The game really is all about the massive online battles against other players. Because this is a Windows Live game, there are plenty of achievements to earn along the way, just like the Xbox 360 version. There really are 1001 ways to die on the battlefield. As experimentation is really starting to phase out in online play, there are deficiencies in balance starting to be painfully clear. These issues can be easily addressed; we will see if things can even out in time.


Difficulty:

Section 8's first person section, Corde's Story, starts very simply and then grows to offer some very challenging gameplay. It isn't until you play all of the way through the single player's missions until you understand how much of a difference in your performance it makes when you take on human players. Just due to the sheer number of directions and ways you can be taken out on the battlefield, it can be frustrating to just jump into a game as a new player. Start slow, watch your back and prepare for players to drop in right on top of you. This is definitely one of those games where you are going to learn by dying. You spawn quick, so learn from your mistakes and get back in the battle as soon as possible.

Game Mechanics:

Section 8 has everything I like in FPS's. I get that "in your face," run and gun action that highlight reels are made of. I get to run around in heavy armour and tanks. Plus, I just flat-out get more. The Dynamic Combat Missions add so much to what could easily be very generic game experience. This game screams to be taken seriously when it comes to squad and team play. I am lucky enough to have friends who were also excited to see this game. There is a level of play that happens when you are working with a team that you really can't get from your average pickup group. Still fun, don't get me wrong, but playing as a team is where the real skill can be seen.

Balancing issues are a real concern at the moment for the longevity of this game. I have trouble understanding how the touch of a knife can drop you in a hit, especially when you're wearing this massive armour suit, but three shots to the face from two feet away with a shotgun can't do the trick. This is just an example. It seems the heavy machine guns are the weapons of choice as it seems to kill the most efficiently.

I am still playing and I will continue to play. I am having a great time, and when it is all said and done, that is exactly what any gamer is looking for. I was also a Tribes fan, so the use of the jet pack on the armour takes me back to those days as well. It is well worth every penny. I have a lot of faith in the team that put this game together as I was also a F.E.A.R. fan and enjoyed the expansions they built. I was lucky enough to get to bend the ear of a few of their producers this week at Austin GDC. I appreciate the care they have taken to make a great game so far, and the commitment they have to keeping it great.


-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:



Minimum Requirements: Operating System: Windows Vista (Service Pack 1), XP (Service Pack 3), Windows 7; Processor: Intel Pentium 4 3.0 GHz, or any Dual Core processor, AMD Athlon 64 3000+; Memory: 1 GB RAM (XP), 2 GB RAM (Vista), 6 GB Hard Drive Space; Video Card: DirectX 9.0c (Shader Model 3.0), 256 MB RAM Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 7800 series, ATI X1800, or equivalent

Recommended Requirements: Operating System, Windows Vista (Service Pack 1), XP (Service Pack 3), Windows 7; Processor: Intel Dual or Quad Core 2.4 GHz, AMD Athlon X2 4000+; Memory: 2 GB RAM, 6 GB Hard Drive Space; Video Card: DirectX 9.0c (Shader Model 3.0), 512 MB RAM Video Card

 

Test System:



Dell XPS DXP061, XP Pro, Intel Core 2 Quad, 4GB Ram, Gforce 8800GTX

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