Section 8 is the latest title from SouthPeak Interactive where you are basically a space marine trying to prevent an evil faction from causing mass destruction and chaos. Section 8 is, at its core, a multiplayer game. There is a single player campaign, however, it seems really unfinished and there isn’t much backstory to explain to you why you are there and what you are doing. At best the campaign mode is a tutorial for the multiplayer arena. If you go in expecting anything else then you are going to be disappointed. Right when you think the story might start to pick up, it ends. It’s like in a book when you jump from chapter two to twenty. You have no idea what is going on or the genesis of the events that you are now experiencing.
As I mentioned above, the real reason to play this game is the multiplayer. The multiplayer is basically a conquest mode where you and your squad have to capture checkpoints and then once you have them, you have to defend them from the opposition. There are also little side missions that will pop up from time to time for you to do, if you so choose. This is one of the many decisions you will have to make throughout the match. Do you leave your base unguarded and try to accomplish more objectives or do you simply stay where you are? Teamwork is key here as a team that is working well together will dominate the landscape. If everyone is out for themselves then you probably won’t get very far. Before you go into battle you have a choice of what class you want your soldier to be or if you don’t like the premade choices, you can create your own, choosing what weapons you will have, the skills you will be able to use and things of that nature. You will also get to pick the spot where you spawn in to the battle. You can choose to spawn with your squad so you are immediately in the action or you can choose free spawn, which is where you can pick the exact spot that you want to drop in to the battle. This is a very cool feature as you could decide to drop down behind enemy lines and try to capture a checkpoint without them realizing it or you can further strengthen your team’s defenses and ward off the opposition’s advances.
The game controls like a standard shooter for the most part, however, there are some issues. For some inexplicable reason the “jump” action was mapped to the left bumper which can be very awkward, especially for people who play a lot of shooters. I would frequently hit the “A” button when I wanted to jump, simply out of habit from other shooters. The other buttons would have even been fine but using a bumper for that function doesn’t work very well. The maps in this game can get pretty big and there is the standard run function, however, after running for a few seconds you will get a burst of speed and the camera will change to a third person view allowing you to more effectively barrel through the landscape. You have a jetpack as well that can briefly launch you into the air so players who get really good at this could be sprinting across the map and then use their jetpack to propel themselves up and over into the enemies camp before they realize what is taking place. This definitely adds a new dimension to the gameplay and anyone who has played the game “Tribes” will know exactly what I am talking about.
Unfortunately there are some things that keep Section 8 from being anything but a decent shooter. The weapons don’t seem to be properly balanced and there is little to no splash damage from weapons like the rocket launcher. Graphically speaking the game isn’t very impressive with the majority of the maps feeling basically the same. Everything just seems dated in this department but maybe that is the type of look they wanted. In addition to that it seems like they had a couple of ideas and then just ran with it. Going through the campaign seemed to get repetitive quickly as we seemed to be doing the same thing, no matter what “level” we were on. There also doesn’t seem to be a lot of people playing this title as there have been times where it takes a little bit to find a good multiplayer game. You can have games with up to 16 players or you can host your own 32 player server utilizing XServer, which is something I would like other shooters to start doing.
Overall, Section 8 is a competent shooter but there really isn’t anything amazing to speak of. If you are one of those people who are all about the multiplayer be sure to give this game a try. You should have a lot of fun experimenting with all of the different ways you can win a battle and if you can get in a good squad that will only make the experience better. If you like story in your games or a good single player campaign don’t waste your time. Simply wait for Halo 3: ODST to come out later this month or Modern Warfare 2 in November.