Reviews

Section 8: Prejudice – Review

Xbox Live Arcade Title
Price: 1200MSP
Singleplayer: Yes
Co-op: Yes
Multiplayer: Yes

The original Section 8 never managed to make it as a full retail FPS when it was released at the end of 2009. Despite having some cool idea’s it felt roug around the edges and looked dated. It didn’t have Call of Duty or Halo on the box either.

But now they’ve returned with Section 8, and what didn’t make it as a full retail game more than makes it as a downloadable title on Xbox Live Arcade. What’s more they’ve actually jammed more content in here than the original had. Is that possible? Yes. Yes it is.

For your hard-earned cash you’ll net yourself a five-hour long singleplayer campaign, co-op Swarm mode (Read: Horde mode) and a 32-player competitive multiplayer which has dedicated servers. Yup, the magic words: dedicated servers.

Like the original game Prejudices focus is very much on multiplayer where you can either hose a game yourself – in which case the game will support 8v8 multiplayer – or join one of the many dedicated servers which will allow 16v16 player battles for some pretty epic fights.

Entering a battle brings one of Section 8’s cooler features straight to the foreground; the free-spawn system. Simply put you’ll be able to pick a point on the map and hit A to launch armour-clad and powered-up self out of a ship in orbit where you’ll then “burn” in through the atmosphere before hitting the air-brakes as late as possible and slamming into the ground. Best. Spawn. System. EVER.
There are limits which come in the form of AA guns placed around bases you must capture during the battle, and players can also buy and place AA turrets using credits earned in-game as well. Attempt to “burn-in” into a zone covered by AA and you can kiss your ass goodbye as a hail of fire greets you.

Once on the ground things take the shape of a more standard FPS, but with a few twists along the way. The goal is to capture bases scattered around the map which scores your team points as you hold them, but you can also score points by completing missions that pop-up along the way like escorting a VIP, planting a beacon for an Air-strike and many more. The enemy are tasked with stopping you from completing these which earns them points as well. It’s a great system that always keeps the action changing and shifting, and completing them often rewards your team in other ways as well.

Another twist comes from the suit you wear which comes with a built-in jetpack allowing you to get up on top of high places or  dodge enemy fire. it’s got a short usage before recharging but lends a nice dynamic to the game. Your suit also lets you go into Over-drive, which essentially means after sprinting a short distance you’ll switch into third-person as your character takes a massive speed boost and hammers around the map. Run into somebody like this and you do big damage.

During battles killing players, capturing bases and practically everything else nets you money which you can then use to purchase an array of things mid-battle such as simple sensor arrays, mini-gun turrets and AA guns all the way up the hulking Mechs and tanks. Strategic use of these is vital as a well placed AA gun can severely hamper enemy attacks to your base. Work together and you can create entire mini-bases with supply depots, sensors, defenses and more to help hold of the enemy. The system helps keep battles feeling varied as everyone has a different style when it comes to what they spend the points on, and saving up for that tank before watching it get dropped onto the battlefield is a great experience.

Of course none of this matters if the core shooting mechanics are naff, and happily Section 8 delivers here as well. At first the aiming felt slow and cumbersome, but a quick trip to the options soon had it feel more spritely and I was soon pounding around the battle like a mad-man.
Describing the pace of the gameplay is tricky. Maps are large and have plenty of flanking opportunities and room for tactics, while the jetpack, over-drive and shields add a very Halo: Reach feeling to the gameplay. Taking down an enemy takes a fair whack of fire-power from the games armory, but it always feels fair.
The weapons themselves are a fairly standard bunch with assault rifles, machine guns, sniper rifles, rocket launchers and more populating the game, but they all feel chunky and fun to wield.. None of them are locked so you can play with them all at will, but the many variations require you to rank up to get access to them. A sniper rifle can get explosive rounds while a machine gun could get EMP rounds which drain shields, or you could get Riot Mortars instead of incendiary.

In fact, that brings us to the games vast class customisation. Every weapon has plenty of variables to unlock along your career along with armor unlocks and more. In total there are 46 unlockables to be had and used on your custom classes. Each class can carry any two weapons, along with things like grenades, knives, mortars and repair tools. Along with that the base stats can be changed such as the strength of armor, or the damage bullets do, or the stealth rating of your suit and loads more. Combine it all together and you’ve got a very flexible system that allows you plenty of room to inject your own style of play into the game.

If you don’t fancy competing against other players you could get together four friends or randoms and play some Swarm which tasks you with defending an area against waves of attacks from the enemy forces. It’s hardly a new game-mode but it plays well and is great with a bunch of friends.

Prejudice also supports bots (AI controlled opponents) in i’s games, so you can set-up a bot only game on any multiplayer map to practice your skills or simply relax. They’re not the most challenging of foes, but they still make for fun games and it’s good to see games using such a feature as it proves a perfect place for new players to start.

You also get a singleplayer mode thrown in for good measure which takes around five hours to complete and lets you learn some of the basics of the game. While the story itself is fairly weak the voice acting is pretty good, and while the action may not blow you away it’s still a solid effort and is good fun to play through. At it’s heart Prejudice is a multiplayer game, but it’s still nice to see a solid campaign added to the game, and it definitely helps up the value for money of the overall package. You can also unlock a lot of multiplayer unlocks by playing singleplayer as well.

Quite simply this is a great addition to Arcade.

The Good:
+ I got my tank!!!!
+ Killing an enemy by landing on top of them as you “burn-in”
+ Great value for money!

The Bad:
– Occasional problems with hit-detection.
– Campaign is solid, but not great.
-Art style is a bit bland.

Scores:

Graphics: 7.5
The art-style behind Section 8 is a bit bland, but apart from that it looks good.

Sound: 8
Some good voice acting is in there and weapons sound nice and chunky along with crisp sound effects.

Story: 5
Pretty poor, and the characters aren’t going to leave you caring what happens to them.

Gameplay: 9
Plenty of customisation, big maps and fun gunplay mixed in with some cool features equals one of the best Arcade shooters out there.

Lifespan: 9
A five hour campaign, co-op and multiplayer with plenty of maps equates to more content that most full retail FPS games offer. For an Arcade game there is a whopping amount of stuff.

Overall: 9
Section 8 couldn’t quite make it as a full retail game, but it has found a home on XBLA offering more content that most retail shooters at a fraction of the price. Sure, it’s 1200MSP but for that you get a great multiplayer shooter with plenty of content and a solid singleplayer backing it all up. Section 8: Prejudice is one of the best multiplayer experiences I’ve played in quite a while, and I look forward to crushing you on the battlefield.

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