Game Review: Section 8
Release: September (360), March 25th (PS3 NA), April 15th (PS3 EU)
Available Platforms: PlayStation 3
Players: 1, (1-32 online)
MSRP: $29.99 for the PS3
ESRB Rating: T
Section 8 is one of the most uninspired, unoriginal and (to be brutally honest) ugly games I’ve ever played. To highlight only its low points would have course be extremely bias, and even Section 8 has some very high points. In a way it’s similar to Metro 2033, mixing great ideas with just some bad design foundations; but it doesn’t have that substance. It doesn’t have that edge or lasting appeal that you can get out of more first-person shooters. To say it straight, Section 8 is a badly designed game. It mixes in Modern Warfare 2, Gears of War, Halo and many other franchises. It’s the very definition of generic. It’s not really a bad game, it does have some of its moments, and this review will highlight them.
Section 8 is a first-person shooter set in the future (I think) where you basically shoot aliens in the face. Yes, they basically look like you in red body armour, but they’re aliens. You could pretty much replace them with the locusts, brutes; hell you could do an alternative WWII shooter where the Nazis invent jetpacks. The game is billed as a tactical first-person shooter, and this is where some of the great ideas come into the mix. When you destroy stuff, kill enemies and do all sorts of trickery, you get money for which you can spawn goods to use. Sensory radars, miniguns and even anti-aircraft mounts. It’s basically a customised care package, at a price for each item, and it works pretty well. It’s only one part of the game’s billed ‘tactical first-person shooter’.
Even in single-player, you can customise your loadouts with your usual run of the mill weapons. Shotguns, sniper rifles, machine guns; the usual. After you complete each objective, a supply point will crash down from the sky allowing you to restock or get a new loadout. Alongside all of the placing of tactical goodies: there is an absolutely brilliant way of respawning inside and outside of multiplayer. Similar to the ODSTs in the Halo universe, you spawn from a pod high in space. You can free spawn in multiplayer (picking where you want to land) and there’s even some freedom in singleplayer. If you hit brakes at the right moment, you can position yourself into the action. It’s an innovative new way of respawning that reminds me of Medal of Honour: Airborne; but a whole damn lot more entertaining.
As I’ve said, Section 8 mixes in great ideas with a terrible foundation. Some of these great ideas I’ve already mentioned; jetpacks can be used on the fly to escape enemies, you can spawn anything pretty much anywhere. At any place in the game, if you’ve got enough points, you can spawn a few items and set up a player-built outpost. One thing that bothers me in most first-person shooters is the fact that they have massive amounts of space, but don’t care to have a way to move around it quick enough. That’s part of the exploration in a game like Borderlands, but here it’s combated pretty well. When you hold down sprint for a few seconds, your vision goes third person and allow you to run even faster. It’s pretty satisfying to run head first into an enemy base, take off with the jetpack and then land in the middle with a shotgun ready to blast everyone away.
As you’ve already noticed I constantly refer to poor foundations. I don’t know if this is a balancing issue, similar to Resistance 2’s co-op mode, but all the enemies have their health scaled up. Alongside this, it takes way too long to kill people in the multiplayer universe, that seems quite trivial to mention but it’s not fun having to keep your sights on someone and hold down R1 for more than 20 seconds. Everything seems massively unbalanced, probably to pave the way for the eccentric game ideas. It wouldn’t be exactly fun to just be killed every few seconds by a sprinting soldier with a shotgun. It seems quite lazy design and it’s pretty stupid how I can be a sniper but practically become pointless given it takes four headshots/torso shots to down anyone.
One thing that a lot of the brilliant writers on this place comment about is the story. It’s an integral part of the game for anyone, and I applaud anyone for attempting it. I always say you should never put a game down because of the story it didn’t actually attempt. As you applaud good story design, it will encourage others, but if you put down bad stories then that won’t do much. It’ll more than likely just keep them trying instead of hiring an actual writer. Section 8’s story is, from what I get, about a guy who’s ‘whole unit’ gets killed by this other guy but the military say that he can’t go kill him. So he obviously kills him in the end. It’s your typical, generic ‘badboy’ 12-year old fantasy about small men in giant suits of armour mouthing bad one-liners. It’s annoying too, thank god the cutscenes are skippable, but you are constantly getting these horrible voices squeaking down your in-game ear – “Get to the LZ, Delta X Triple Triple.”, its horribly annoying.
Nath’s final say: To call this a horrible shooter would be denying its distinction from the flock. Section 8 ties brilliant new ideas (a fantastic new way of respawn) to a horrible foundation. The story shouldn’t be exactly its lowest point or even put it down in terms of review, but it is very annoyingly drilled into you. There isn’t much of a full retail purchase incentive in this little shooter, but I would give it a rent. As bad of a game it might be, I had some fun with it and that’s what matters.