Section 8 Review

By Paul Semel - Posted Sep 11, 2009

With futuristic weapons, a shield-generator armored suit, and open fields of battle that have numerous and varied objectives, TimeGate's first-person shooter Section 8 plays like a sci-fi version of Battlefield. Or a Wookie-free version of Star Wars: Battlefront.

The Pros
  • Is like 'Battlefield'...In Space. Soft of.
  • Running boost gets you to the fight quick.
  • Tons of weapon options.
The Cons
  • Weak campaign mode.
  • There's little about the game that you can't get from better titles.

With futuristic weapons, a shield-generator armored suit, and open fields of battle that have numerous and varied objectives, TimeGate’s first-person shooter Section 8 plays like a sci-fi version of Battlefield. Or a Wookie-free version of Star Wars: Battlefront.

But while being like Battlefield isn't a bad thing unto itself (just consider how much you like the Battlefront games), being so Battlefield-esque is kind of a problem for Section 8 because the impending release of a new Battlefield and a number of other upcoming similar games make Section 8 kind of moot.

Section 8

For The Good Of The Outfit

In Section 8, you play as, well, there's no way around this: you play as an orbital drop trooper. You drop into big battlefields, using your air brakes to slightly manipulate where you're going to land, then you shoot anyone who gets in the way of your objectives, which include capturing points, destroying things, and grabbing other people's stuff.

To help you do this, you have some futuristic weapons that come equipped with an advanced auto-targeting function that lets you hit a button to lock on to your target. But unlike most, this one will actually stay locked onto your enemy, so long as you're aimed in their general direction.

Defending you from other people's futuristic weapons is your armor suit's regenerating shield, as well as a speed boost ability that kicks in when you hold down the run button. It even switches to a third-person perspective so you can admire how good your butt looks as you run. Unfortunately, the suit's brakes need replacing. They're slow to respond, which sometimes means you run straight into the middle of a fire fight without even trying.

Well, unless you run into something. Then you'll stop real quick.

You also have a jet pack, which has prompted some people to compare this game to Tribes. Except that unlike in Tribes, in which players jet-packed around like Jango Fett trying to show off in front of his kid, in Section 8 people usually just use it to jump. Since, for some odd reason, there is no jump button.

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Divided We Stand

The main mode of this game, of course, is the online multiplayer one they've dubbed “Conquest.” In it, two teams have to complete a series of objectives - such as capturing enemy bases, destroying enemy defenses, stealing enemy intel - that are placed around the map. Doing any of these, or just killing your enemy, and your team gets points; get to the point goal and you win.

Assisting you in your victory is the ability to call for a weapons drop, or a turret drop, vehicle drop, or a new armor suit drop. You can even, after you die, drop back in near your squad, or opt for the “free spawn” approach, which lets you decide where on the map you want to land. There are also the usual options to choose from: bots vs. no bots, difficulty, and which of the eighteen included map you'd like your guts splattered across. Granted, ten of the maps are variations or sections of other/larger maps, but still, eighteen maps at launch is more than most games gets in a lifetime.

Section 8

Sometimes You Hear The Bullet

Besides “Conquest,” Section 8 has a story-driven single-player mode called “Corde's Story.” But like the story mode in every online-leaning game, “Corde's” really feels like a training mode, only longer, since it plays exactly like a multiplayer game except that it's just you and some bots, you do the objectives in a specific order, and there's cut scenes.

However, there's a major flaw in having the online shooter elements in the story mode. At the end of the first mission, for example, you face off against a guy with an even bigger armor suit. Unfortunately for you, your suit's regenerating shield doesn't seem to work that well, and you're not that healthy. As a result, Section 8 has a rather high mortality rate; you die more often than Bill Maher at a Catholic League staff meeting.

Because of this issue, bosses make rather quick work of you. Which would be frustrating, were it not for the fact that you never really die; you just respawn and drop back into the battle already in progress. So you can just keep attacking him, dying over and over again in the process, until you wear him down. Which robs these battles of any challenge.

This mode's role as a training program is also made moot by the inclusion of another mode called “Instant Action” in which you actually play “Conquest” against bots. It even features all the options you find in “Conquest,” as well as one that lets you decide the makeup of the teams. Has reading Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch's “Venus In Furs” lately made you feel a bit masochistic? Play “Super Swarm,” which is described as “Humans And Bots Vs. Bots On Very Uneven Teams” or the self-explanatory “One Man Army.”

Section 8

Goodbye, Farewell, And Amen

For what it's trying to be, Section 8 does a decent job. The controls are solid, there's plenty of options, the levels are varied and numerous, and while the graphics aren't mind-blowing or especially original looking, they don't get in the way of the action. And while other games do this type of game better, fans of this subgenre will still have fun with it.

No, the biggest problem isn't with “what” Section 8 is or isn't, but “when.” Within months of the game’s launch window, there will be a ton of games that mine similar or even the same territory, and do it better: Halo 3: ODST, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and Star Wars: Battlefront: Elite Squadron. Even without them, though, this game's timing would be bad, since people are still playing Halo 3 and Gears Of War 2 online every night.

In other words, while you might like Section 8, you don't really need it, now do you?