Section 8: Prejudice Review
Developer: TimeGate Studios
Publisher:SouthPeak Interactive/TimeGate Studios
Available on: Xbox LIVE Arcade, PlayStation Network, PC (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Back in 2009, developer TimeGate wheeled out the somewhat generic space marine shooter, Section 8, to what would best be described as mixed reviews. It had some decent and well implemented ideas, but was pretty much ignored by the masses with complaints of a short and lacklustre single player mode, and the obvious aesthetic comparisons it to a certain Bungie product. The fact that the makers have decided to have a second crack at the FPS market shows some real cojones, what with the kids these days being all about the Call Of Duty and whatnot. Being a digital release only, you could be forgiven for worrying that this second slice of Section 8 would be more of the same. Never fear though, GodisaGeek.com is on hand to digest this sophomore effort and tell you whether it is worth your precious hard earned cash.
Prejudice places you in control of ace shooty soldier chap Alex Corde, as he leads his gang of Section 8 troops on a mission that involves all manner of conspiracy theories, the fate of mankind, interplanetary war, the far reaches of space, yadda yadda yadda. Effectively what this means is that you are faced with a standard FPS one-man-versus-the-world scenario, which in the brisk yet fun single player campaign, takes you to a number of nicely designed locales where you use a satisfying array of weaponry and vehicles to wage war against your Arm Of Orion foe. The original Section 8 brought a couple of nifty new tricks to the FPS table; the use of a jetpack, and the superb Overdrive, a mechanic which allows your avatar to run across the battlefield, building up speed until you hit the titular overdrive, much the same as you would employ a nitrous oxide boost in a driving simulator. Both of these feature here, and it is undeniably exhiliarating to engage the overdrive on your suit of armour and then launch yourself skyward using the jetpack, which is arguably a better implementation here, than on Halo: Reach.
The original Section 8 was criticised for having clunky aiming controls, and these have been suitably improved here. As well as the usual manually controlled crosshairs, you have the ability to use a lock-on targeting system, which for a few seconds allows you to home in on your target, which is mighty handy given the often fast-moving bad guys that can be difficult to pin down.
As standard you are able to select primary and secondary weapons, which are the standard shooter fare; pistols, machine guns, shotguns, lasers, and of course the always-ace sniper rifles. In addition to your arsenal of guns, you can tool Alex up with grenades, explosives, knives, mortar launchers and a selection of tools that would put your dad’s shed to shame. My personal favourite secondary weapon is the knife, which allows you to notch some impressively done stealth kills. Nothing is more awesome than sneaking up behind an Arm Of Orion grunt, and then comitting a bit of classic knife crime.
The aforementioned single player campaign is not particularly lengthy, a decent day or two for a novice, perhaps even quicker for seasoned veterans of the genre. The plot is poor, and some of the missions are repetitive in their nature. There are also sharp difficulty spikes later on, and you will find yourself replaying certain sections repeatedly. One area where you have to escort and protect a tank on your own is a joypad-thrower of a level. Don’t purchase Section 8: Prejudice expecting to enjoy a single-player cinematic tour-de-force on par with the Halo or Gears of War franchises, as you won’t find that here. It serves as something of a tutorial for the crux of this release, the deep and extremely impressive multiplayer.
For a downloadable title, TimeGate have bust their balls to provide you with a smörgåsbord of online options, with some cracking fun to be had with friends or other denizens of the internet. Conquest mode incorporates the now standard base capture and deathmatch mechanics, but also included are Dynamic Combat Missions. In a nutshell, these are mission based battles involving specific scenarios, changing the standard deathmatch formula by asking you to carry out tasks such as repairing vehicles, targeting enemy bases and escorting convoys.
Points are earned for your performances, and these can be used to upgrade your weaponry, add ammo and weapon deployment points to the map, and install cool stuff like turrets and anti-air guns. The vehicles from single player mode are also available in Conquest mode, and these spice things up no end, even if at times they can be difficult to control, and in the case of the tank, ridiculously hard to destroy.
Perhaps the best thing about Prejudice is the magnificent Freefall spawning system. In short, your Section 8 soldier dudes can be fired out of a huge-ass cannon, deploying them anywhere on the battlefield. Cue an enthralling sequence where you drop down out of the sky and hurtle towards terra firma; imagine Pilotwings but with massive guns and what have you. This is implemented exactly as described in online battles, which means you can drop your heavily armoured soldier wherever you wish to respawn on the map, and yes, that can include directly onto the head of an opponent. A thrilling feature, it near extinguishes the threat of the sort of idiots who will wait at respawn points to dispatch you, or the weasel-like individuals who will hide out with their sniper rifles. Any pussies who choose that line of work will end up with a space marine the size of King Kong’s first dump of the day dropping a thousand feet out of thin air directly onto their cranium.
With Conquest mode satisfying the deathmatch fans, Swarm mode will satiate fans of a good old fashioned co-op siege. The rules are simple, you and your crew are charged with protecting your base from wave after wave of enemy scum. It gets pretty damn hairy and goes on for fifteen minutes, is a great deal of fun and guaranteed to keep you and your buddies engaged for some time as you attempt to crack it.
VERDICT: Section 8: Prejudice is not going to win any awards for it’s plot or voice acting. You are not downloading this game to live vicariously through an epic space opera, the likes of which will draw you in and make you emotionally involved with the rich, expertly drawn characters therein. This is strictly rehashed science fiction about some shiny armoured soldiers shooting at some aliens, with generic voice acting and instantly fogettable space guys. The game looks and sounds competent. The Unreal 3-engineered graphics are far from poor and there is some decent hammy music and weapon noises going on.
What you come away thinking after playing Section 8: Prejudice though, is how impressive it is that TimeGate have managed to squeeze so much into a downloadable release, with options and depth that shames many a full price release. It is hard to criticise the amount of bang for your buck, even with the few small flaws it contains, as these flaws are rife within a genre where more bad games are released than good, with a damn sight more of them clocking in at a far heftier price than this. This is straight out of the top drawer of XBLA releases, and one that comes heartily recommended to fans of superior FPS action.