Section 8 ReviewSeptember 1, 2009
|Game Name:||Section 8|
|ESRB Rating:||T (Teen)|
|Demo:||Download the demo!|
As soon as you boot up Section 8 you know you are in for a multiplayer experience. Just like Left 4 Dead (and unlike most games) the first couple of options on the main menu launch you right into the multiplayer game modes. In short, if you are looking for a nice, long single player campaign, then you are in for some disappointment. That’s not to say that the lack of a lengthy campaign will completely leave you out in the cold. The game also offers an offline multiplayer mode called Instant Action that will essentially place you in the online multiplayer mode, except you’ll be facing off against bots and can tweak certain options such as the amount of players (humans and bots) and the difficulty (5 different levels).
Shield failing… MUST. RUN.
The single player campaign mode is titled Corde’s Story and places you in the shoes of the newest recruit in the 8th Armored Infantry. Why is the game called Section 8? Well the unit is affectionately called that due to their proficiency in combat and their willingness to take on missions that others won’t. In military terms they are considered insane, but in general terms that makes them badass. However, you won’t feel badass in your battle against the Arm of Orion.
MECH > YOU
Your main enemy is a human group that is taking over the US Empire’s planets so naturally your squad is sent in to stop them. The storyline is generic and really only serves to introduce players to the game’s combat. There are 8 short levels that can be beaten in a few hours. During the campaign your group repeatedly drops into different locations, kills enemies, and takes over their bases. Rinse and repeat. Variety isn’t a strong point of the game and you’ll continually launch into different levels that all look the same. Apparently the future landscape is just a flat plain with a few mounds and trees thrown in on some levels for variety.
I swear I’ve been here before…
Not only is the scenery plain but so are the players. The leader of the Arm of Orion is your typical power hungry enemy. Your squad consists of replaceable bodies that really don’t matter because respawning is almost unlimited in the game. At the beginning of each mission you will drop into the battlefield from your ship (like in Halo 3: ODST). However, unlike ODST you will do this ad nauseam. It was cool the first time, but not so much the hundredth time. Whenever you die you just respawn so that takes away much of the difficulty involved and it becomes an exercise in dying and respawning. Rinse and repeat. I’m sure you’re starting to see a factor here. The game is repetitive. You will be completing the same tasks both offline and on.
You’ll fight many of these… and die.
During the short introductory campaign the enemy A.I. is decent and poses a challenge due to their willingness to target you in groups and because of your short life span. The game is pre-loaded with 6 different Loadouts, classes with varying primary and secondary weapons plus modules. These can be modified at any time to allow you to play the game in whatever style you or the mission calls for. While you can upgrade your shield and armor strength it doesn’t make much of a difference and you will find yourself dying regularly even on the Normal difficulty. The enemy is relentless and will not stop until you are dead and they are successful many times which was frustrating. Of course you just respawn so there are almost no consequences. The only time I failed a mission is when I died more than usual and the vehicle convoy I was protecting took too much damage while I was dropping in. I had no idea since the game gave no notification or “Mission Failed” and just automatically restarted. A little annoying to say the least since I had no idea that the mission was over and suddenly I was at the beginning again. If the enemy A.I. wasn’t enough of a challenge then you can jump online in the Multiplayer mode.
Even though the campaign was short I spent some time on it because the Multiplayer game type is almost the same but with humans instead of bots and more goal oriented. Multiplayer supports up to 16 players however you will have a hard time playing against that many people since the online portion of the game is dead. This is unfortunate considering that this is a Multiplayer centric game that hasn’t been out for very long. The most humans I ever encountered online were 12 in one game and bots fill the rest of the positions.
The 8 single player maps are all used online and most of the maps (5) have different variants to create a total of 18 different maps to play on. Ranked matches consist of two teams competing to earn 1000 Victory Points (VPs) first for the win. VPs are earned by completing certain objectives such as capturing a base, killing enemy players, or destroying their base components. There also are Dynamic Combat Missions (DCM) that can be triggered by completing certain feats. The DCMs are a nice distraction from the other objectives and include certain missions like escorting a VIP to one of your bases or stealing and delivering enemy intel . Completing objectives/DCMs is important since they net the most points as opposed to just killing enemies.
Despite all of my gripes the Multiplayer experience was actually quite fun and I enjoyed my time playing it. I prefer objective based game modes over deathmatch so this was my so-called “cup of tea”. If you are looking to just kill or want lots of variety then you probably won’t enjoy your time in Section 8. That coupled with the lack of players online makes the game hard to recommend to serious online players. Your best bet is to find a group of friends dedicated to playing this game in order to enjoy it.
This guy is screwed and for once it’s not you. YAY!
There is a specific section of the game dedicated to customization, stat tracking, and achievements. The “Dropship” can be accessed from the main menu. Here you can customize your Loadouts, but more importantly you can see the progress on your Achievements. The achievements can be filtered by type such as Career (Ranked stats), Campaign (Corde’s Story), Combat (kills/destroys), and Tactical (secondary objectives). Each achievement that requires a certain amount of tasks is shown with your current progress such as 17/30 kills with a shotgun. Most of the achievements are Multiplayer oriented and difficult to obtain without finding a group to boost them with due to the lack of online players. The last part of Dropship is Section 8 online which is where you can access any Awards you’ve earned, Ranked Stats, and Leaderboards. My one complaint is the glitched stat tracking. Sometimes I would complete a badge and it would show up in-game, but when I went to the Awards section that displays Badges and Feats it wouldn’t show up so I’d have to earn it again. Another funny thing is there’s an achievement for getting 100 kills in Muliplayer matches and I earned the achievement but it said I only had 91/100 kills in the stats page. While the extensive stat tracking is very nice (and I feel all online multiplayer games after Gears of War 2 spoiled me should include this) it is dampened by the glitches.