Game Rant’s Zak Grim reviews Section 8: Prejudice
There’s an epidemic in the gaming industry right now with the market flooded with first-person shooters. Game developers see that games like Halo and Call of Duty are cash cows and think that a FPS is the way to make the most money. Not all of them are bad, but for every Battlefield: Bad Company 2 there’s a Quantum Theory. Because of this, it seems that many gamers resist venturing from the established FPS franchises.
Enter Section 8: Prejudice, the download-only title from TimeGate Studios and a direct sequel to Section 8.
The original was a game that had a lot of potential but got lost in the shuffle of console FPS releases. Section 8 introduced many innovative things, like aerial ‘drop spawning’ (more on that later), but on the surface, everything resembled the Halo franchise too much to distinguish itself.
Section 8: Prejudice will have an uphill battle as well, as it too strongly resembles Halo at first glance. The story stays in line with the original; you step into the shoes of Captain Alex Corde of the 8th Armored Infantry, better known as Section 8. Picking up shortly after the events of thefirst game, Captain Corde leads Section 8 onto various planets to pursue and destroy of the last of a resistance hell bent on wiping out humanity.
Section 8 is comprised of soldiers that wear powered armor suits that allow them to absorb high amounts of damage and manipulate their abilities for combat purposes. These abilities include things like limited flight with a jetpack and high speed sprinting called ‘overdrive’. The Suits also allow the soldiers to drop into the battlefield from orbital spaceships high above the planet’s surface. Those who stop there will assume this is just a Halo clone, but it goes so much deeper than that, and for only a fraction of the price. On XBLA, the title only costs 1200 Microsoft Points ($15).
Section 8: Prejudice is split into three modes: a single player campaign, Conquest and Swarm. The inclusion of a campaign mode was a bit of a surprise. With such a focus on the multi-player aspect I expected Timegate to follow the Battlefield 1943 model and lean solely on the multi-player experience. It’s nice to have as a way to introduce yourself to the control scheme, weapons and equipment upgrades. All that being said, it’s the weakest of the three modes.
The story is clichÃ© and forgettable for anyone who has played a sci-fi shooter in the past 10 years. The Environments, while large and designed well from a gameplay aspect, are too similar from level to level. And the voice acting is just bad although it can be a fun experience. Through the campaign, players have two main weapons, two secondary items (grenades, mortors, repair tools), and various suit upgrades that they can customize at any in-game supply depot. The depth of the campaign is on par with some campaigns from games three times the price.
While the single-player is a fun, yet underwhelming, the multiplayer experience is where Section 8: Prejudice comes into its own.
The multiplayer is broken into two game modes: Swarm and Conquest. Swarm is a co-op mode that can be played with up to 3 other players. You’re defending a central location against waves of enemies that get more and more difficult. In addition, you can earn requisition points (RP) that can be used to purchase turrets, supply depots, vehicles and other deployables. Lasting the 15-minute onslaught of enemies isn’t an easy task and feels incredibly satisfying when you do survive.
Conquest is the competitive multiplayer mode where you and up to 31 other players compete in a mix of team based deathmatches and capture the base style missions. For every kill, assist, repair, or any number of other actions you earn Victory Points, which work just like RP, and can be spent to call in Deployables. The deployables can be used for defensive purposes (guarding your bases) or offensive purposes (calling in a mech suit to mount an attack). What really makes conquest shine though is when ‘Dynamic Combat Missions’ or DCMs are mixed into the match. DCMs are objective-based missions that can occur at any moment. There are nine DCMs that range from simple escort missions to targeting an enemy stronghold for a precision airstrike. The fact that every Conquest match could have a plethora of modes inside of it is a huge plus and it keeps players on their toes.
In addition to the magnitude of modes, the amount of customization that players can achieve is very deep for an FPS title, let alone a downloadable one. You can select from one of the preplanned loadouts or customize your entire repertoire, all the way down to your powered suit. You can spend up to 10 points on your suit in categories that will increase speed, weapon resistance, aim and more.
Instead of simply spawning in randomly generated spots, there is a ‘drop spawn’ system. When you respawn you’ll be able to select a teammate to drop near or you can select any location on the map to drop into, I say “drop” because you are literally dropped from a spaceship orbiting high above the map. Choose wisely where you drop into though, for if you chose to drop near an enemy base, their Anti-Aircraft guns may kill you before you even reach the ground. Not only does the ‘drop spawn’ system add another level of planning and strategy to the matches, it just feels cool. Pulling off a successful drop-in on the outskirt of an enemy base and hitting the ground running with your gun at the ready is a really fun experience.
While Section 8: Prejudice on a whole is incredibly fun and satisfying, the graphics do seem outdated. Even though this is a XBLA title, the textures are very bland and simple, and the character models aren’t anything special. The graphics don’t take away from the gameplay experience at all, but after seeing the graphics in XBLA titles like Trials HD and Shadow Complex, these just don’t measure up.
Overall, this was one of the best XBLA titles I’ve ever played. For the amount of game and depth you get for $15, this is a no-brainer for FPS fans who want something they can go back to for months to come. This would be worth the price for just the Conquest mode, but the inclusion of Swarm mode and a fun campaign make it a phenomenal value.
Section 8: Prejudice is available for download now from the Xbox Live Marketplace for 1200 Microsoft Points. The game will release for the PC on May 4th and for the Playstation 3 this summer.