How Awesome Is That?
February 26, 2009 – Acrophobia is defined as the fear of heights. In spite of my lack of “traditional” credentials or training, I like to consider myself an amateur psychologist. I don’t think it’s the heights that bother people, it’s the fall. Or maybe the sudden stop at the end. In either case, in my professional opinion, Alex Corde is insane.
Anyone who spends their days swan diving through the stratosphere is a few chutes short of a safe landing. For Corde, and the other Section 8 operatives, a swim through the clouds is just another day above the office. Section 8 is the newest IP from SouthPeak Games and the first for development partner TimeGate. SouthPeak hasn’t been the most successful publisher since it first dipped its toe in the next-gen pool. Despite a series of creative games (and partnerships with a half dozen developers) SouthPeak has harvested lukewarm receptions from critics and gamers alike. Section 8 may be just the cricket to turn this publisher into a real boy.
On paper the concept is fairly familiar. Two factions deadlocked in an armed conflict in a distant future on a world very reminiscent of our own, if not Earth 2. This particular story tells the tale of a young galactic civilization (think the Republic). The darker of the two factions, the Arm of Orion, has been busy attacking and conquering the planets on the outer reaches of the galaxy. Of course, such behavior cannot be tolerated in a polite galactic society, and the EDF, the established governmental order of the galaxy (think the Senate), calls in the dedicated men and women of Section 8 to kick some Orion arse.
It may seem to be a by-the-numbers scenario for a sci-fi FPS, but the second you see Corde and his crew of armored infantry suit up and freefall toward a hotzone, it becomes clear that this isn’t your daddy’s FPS (assuming your dad is a gamer). In fact, this unique mechanic is one of the most interesting aspects of gameplay, and the trailers are creating a buzz. The action in question is called “burning in” and it’s the quickest way to enter the battlefield. At the beginning of conflict, presumably after some cinematics, players will be treated to a high-speed first-person view of the rapidly approaching ground. Though it’s definitely not something we’ve seen before, it’s already making a mark, and burning in also has tactical uses.
TimeGate has actually managed to revamp the whole “spawning” formula that we’ve gotten used to in games from Halo to Call of Duty. Typically in multiplayer, snuffed gamers wait a few moments only to respawn at some randomly selected point on the map. This, of course, leaves players vulnerable to roaming enemies who take potshots at players they happen to come across. By maneuvering your federations drop ship, players will actually be able to direct their own respawn location.
In order to balance the gameplay, gamers will still face some difficulties. When nearing the ground, soldiers will have to activate jetpacks at the right time or splat. The resulting crater will mean weakened shields for hapless troops.
In Section 8, gamers will be able to take charge of elements on the battlefield called capture points. These elements provide bonuses that correspond to their military application; e.g. communications arrays provide increased radar capabilities, while cannons can be used as antiaircraft guns. Once captured, players can use their new abilities against the enemy. AA guns can pick off enemies while they are burning in. This can force enemies to drop soldiers further from conflict and offers a tactical advantage. It’s a very interesting take on the old formula, and it adds depth to the run-and-gun multiplayer of most shooters. In addition, these capture points will provide players with requisition points that allow you to access new vehicles, weapons, and armor.
Terrain reportedly stretches for miles, which is a good thing, considering the expansive armored combat gamers can expect. Character classes are adjustable via active and passive boosts. Active boosts are weapons and gadgets that players equip and use in battle (any of which can be knocked off by taking damage). Passive boosts provide intangible enhancements like speed and mobility to give you the upper hand. Gameplay will center mostly on FPS action. Section 8 features three modes: single, multiplayer, or instant action- and multiplayer and instant action modes can provide additional replay value with Dynamic Combat Missions. These objectives (ranging from assassinations to destruction objectives) reward players with additional requisition points for their respective missions.
Multiplayer has been confirmed at up to 16 players (32 on PC), and early screenshots and trailers look awesome. Look for an impact crater on September 30, 2009.