Sometimes, all a developer needs is a second chance. For some games, the second game makes a statement and shows the community that given another try, a developer can get their point across at what they tried to do before. For others, another game means another bowl of drivel leaving gamers to ask how a sequel was ever given the green light. For developer TimeGate Studios, Section 8: Prejudice proved the latter: given another try and more time, a great game can be had.
Released in September of 2010, Section 8 was pushed out to the Xbox 360 and PC gaming crowds to see if the game could be a hit. Reminiscent of PC darling Tribes, Soldiers clad in jetpack-equipped power armor that allowed for super speed running and aerial combat while wielding different types of weapons from assault rifles to shotguns to rocket launchers, all while being deployed from bases in orbit rather than typical respawning, made for a great shooter with a unique twist.
While garnering modest reviews, most publications and websites, along with the gaming community, noted that the campaign acted as a long tutorial and server population was sparse. This made finding games hard and publisher SouthPeak Interactive with a game that couldn’t sustain itself. However, rumblings were heard that TimeGate was self-publishing a sequel to Section 8, with the subtitle Prejudice, as a download only title. Around the time PAX East 2011 hit, demos of Section 8: Prejudice were on display, giving players a chance to try out the revamped multiplayer modes and even getting a glimpse at the new single player campaign.
When released on May 4, 2011, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC players got to finally tear into a game that had been getting some hype. Priced at $15 on Steam and PSN or 1200 Microsoft points, Section 8: Prejudice doubled the content of the original, revamped the single player campaign with cut scenes and dialogue, and a multiplayer now went from a single objective-based game play type to four distinct multiplayer modes. The campaign follows Alex Corde of the 8th Armored Infantry fighting a war with the Arm of Orion. While the story is a bit clichéd and there are only a few environments, the single player is a full story rather than just a string of objectives across different locations that act as a tutorial for the multiplayer. Full voice acting is also a bit on the stale side, with some of the actors either over-acting or not acting at all. However, the gameplay is what really shines through on the campaign. Getting used to your power armor as you jetpack and speed run across the battlefield while shotgunning an airborne sniper is a great feeling that people familiar with Tribes and even Halo Reach will find extremely satisfying.
But the meat of the game falls in the multiplayer. Offering four modes of play, Section 8: Prejudice offers a little bit of something for each type of player. With Conquest mode, players of the original Section 8, and others who have played Call of Duty or Unreal Tournament Domination modes, will feel at home in the objective based matches. Vying for control of different points while dropping in turrets, mechs, vehicles, and ammo drops make for hectic game play. While some may think hectic is a bad thing, the size of the maps make up for it by allowing plenty of space for the different things to come fall in. In Skirmish mode, standard deathmatches revolve around a stripped down version of Conquest.
Assault is a version similar to Battlefield’s Conquest mode, such that two teams are split into attackers and defenders. Defenders have to keep the attacking team from gaining control of points on the map, but once a point is captured by the attackers, it cannot be lost and regained by the defending team. This adds to the intensity of the fighting, as the defending team will try to keep back the attackers as long possible in hopes that they can hold out against wave after wave of troops. With opposing troops being able to drop in on any part of the map from orbit, defenders have to be on their toes to make sure they don’t get flanked and outmaneuvered by opposing players.
Swarm is a horde-style mode where a team has to survive against numerous Arm of Orion troops for 15 minutes, in hopes that the bot controlled team does not gain control of the one control point on the map. Every five minutes of survival grants the four player co-op team an airstrike that eliminates all enemies on the map, offering a bit of breathing room and a chance to reload and rearm. All the modes make for great matches that can easily keep up with Call of Duty and Battlefield in terms of war stories in forums.
Slight campaign and graphics niggles aside, Section 8: Prejudice is good for anyone looking for a cheap shooter with a decent campaign and a multiplayer that shines. Colorful environments and character models, rendered using Unreal Engine 3, help the game stand up a little bit taller than most other downloadable shooters. Grab it on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3; however, be warned that on PC you will have to use Games for Windows Live. Once you get passed that one road bump, get ready to have a hell of a lot of fun.