|System: X360, PC||Review Pending Legend|
|Dev: TimeGate Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: South Peak Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 1, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (32 Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Pending: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Andrew Groen
June 16, 2009 - Moments after entering a multiplayer game, Section 8 sends you plummeting through the upper atmosphere and tearing through the sky as you approach your personally selected drop zone. Landing with a bang and ripping a crater in the battlefield, your character arrives on the field of conflict. It's only 20 seconds in, and already Section 8 has proven that it has some awesome new tricks up its sleeve that instantly separate it from the herd of me too first-person shooters.
Most noticeable is the custom spawn point selection. No longer will players be relegated to pre-chosen spots where they can re-enter the battle after death. Players can select their own spawn points anywhere on the map. Anywhere on the battlefield is a potential spawn point, though some areas close to enemy strongholds will have anti-aircraft guns that can destroy you before landing. We're also told that this mechanic will have some tactical uses as well. Not only will talented players be able to deftly pilot themselves behind enemy lines, but a precision drop could be used to take out a pesky sniper as your crash landing serves as a more than suitable means to dispatch a stationary sharpshooter.
Though Section 8 obviously places a high value on fun factor and explosive action, it never comes at the expense of strategy. So, while the jetpacks featured so prominently in multiplayer are fantastically fun to use and make for some jaw-dropping wow moments, they also boast a huge array of tactical uses. This seems to be the overarching philosophy behind Section 8, the successful combination of action and strategy. More frenetic action than Battlefield, more strategy than Halo.
On the strategic end of the spectrum, Section 8 also offers an expansive variety of choices for players to select from when designing their pre-battle load-out. Similar to Call of Duty 4, before a match starts the player customizes the equipment they will be bringing into the battle. This ranges from offensive choices such as a primary weapon and melee weapons, to passive options such as armor plating and stealth abilities. The idea is to allow the player to choose how they want to play the game, without the rigidity of a set class structure like Team Fortress 2. If you want to play an unstoppable, armor-clad, heavy weapons wielding killing machine those options are there. Or, if you want to play as a nimble, stealthy assassin, that's also a possibility.
As an expansion to the load-out option, the player also has the ability to call down for equipment in the middle of a battle. A menu can be brought that allows the player to call in equipment and vehicles. The types of things you can call for depend on the amount of points you have in that match, which are awarded based on your performance in the match. This system instantly draws comparisons to Counter-Strike. These aerial drops don't come without their own set of challenges. Players can't be too cavalier about when they're calling for equipment, because the drop ship itself can be shot down if there are too many enemies or anti-aircraft guns nearby.
The demo that was on display at E3 was limited to just multiplayer, and it only showcased the Deathmatch game type. The level was a vast rolling desert with a large military complex that could be controlled by either team. That team would then have the option of building anti-aircraft gun emplacements to protect them from enemies that could drop straight into the base. The base could be reclaimed, but the attackers are at a huge disadvantage against the fortified opposition, and are likely to take heavy casualties in their attack.
The name Section 8 comes from an old real-world military regulation that requires a soldier be dismissed from duty if he is deemed mentally unfit. Due to their obvious propensity for insane stunts (well, what else would you call skydiving into an epic battle from 100,000 feet in the air?) the unit that takes center stage in the game has earned the nickname Section 8. This squad is called upon to intervene in a situation which sees two opposing galactic powers locked in conflict. One of these factions, the Arm of Orion, has been up to no good in the outer rims of the galaxy, conquering planets and adding to their empire. The EDF, essentially the galactic government, decides that this behavior cannot be allowed and as such sends in the soldiers of Section 8 to put a stop to it.
The developers on the project (TimeGate Studios, the developer behind the F.E.A.R. Expansion packs) are still choosing to keep Section 8's single-player under wraps for the time being, but what was shown of the multiplayer easily elevated Section 8 as one of the most impressive multiplayer games on display at E3.
CCC Freelance Writer