Clean up on isle 8
There’s nothing unusual about the framework of the multiplayer in Section 8
– it’s the standard team-based shoot-athon and it feels quite similar to Quake Wars
at some points.
What does make Section 8
a little bit more interesting though, are some of the options given to the players in terms of customisation and channelling the gameplay. Not only do you have a variety of options for just attacking the enemy thanks to your jetpack and mega-sprint ability, but you can also customise your stats through the use of upgrade modules that you can strap to your mech-suit.
Individually these modules don’t do a lot – a +5 percent here, a -10 percent there – and you have precious few slots too. Once you’ve spent some time with the game though it’s fairly easy to get a feel for what your preferred gameplay style might be and then to use the right modules to pad your most useful abilities out. For us, ever on the frontline, that mainly meant increasing our armour.
Big robots aren't always a good thing
In the moment-to-moment flow of the game things are a bit more fiddly and, while Section 8
lets all players run at mega-speeds (by awkwardly holding down the left thumbstick for extended periods), use jetpacks then parachute into the maps almost wherever they want, the level of freedom is hideously undermined by the curiously empty and disappointingly bland maps. There are a handful of semi-decent levels in the mix that redeem things somewhat, but mediocre are still the best they can hope for.
The feature which is most evocative of the ill-fated Quake Wars
though is the Dynamic Combat Mission feature, which hands out generated mini-missions to players who have decided they don’t actually want to complete the proper objective of the game and want to reap rewards through side-missions. The DCMs are a nice complement to the more drawn-out or stale-mated of matches and mean that there’s always something for players to do – but we can’t suppress the idea that if the core game was stronger, then these mini-missions wouldn’t be quiet so appealing.
Rounding out the standard feature set is the ability to call in deployable structures too, laying down mounted turrets or supply depots for your allies. The miniguns and rocket turrets are especially powerful and so you’d assume that the strategic placement of them would have a heavy effect on the flow of the levels. If you thought that though then you’ve likely forgotten about the jetpacks, hyperspeed, ability to deploy almost anywhere and open, empty levels. Turrets either kill you before you know what’s happened, or you’ll never even know they are there.
He looks familiar...
Since we’re discussing the level design again, it really is worth pointing out just how fabulously ugly Section 8
looks on the Xbox 360. We cannot emphasised enough how utterly atrocious the textures are and, if you ever want to take a trip down Nostalgia Avenue and see what games looked like back in the early 90s, then all you ever have to do is look straight up at blurry, blocky, poorly stretched sky textures.
Graphics aren’t everything admittedly, but Section 8
’s problem is that there’s nothing else in the game that’s any better. The multiplayer feels shallow, predictable and boring and the art design and setting is more of reason to avoid the title than to be engaged by it. The ability to customise your load-out and take on side-missions is a plus point, but not truly notable and while it’s kind of cool to see a game with X-server technology and supporting up to 32 players (which we were unable to test) it’s still hard to escape from the relentlessly generic gameplay.
There’s simply nothing new here and, while you can always jump in for some “fun” of the shallow, shooty-shooty bang-bang variety, you’d be hard pushed to get anything more than that out of it. Nearly every feature that works well has been done in other, better, more pretty and more popular games, so don’t waste your money on this one.