Section 8, even with its flaws, was a highly underrated game. However, it surprised even me when Timegate studios announced that it was ditching their publisher Southpeak and going it alone for a second run. Even more surprising, that this sequel, Section 8: Prejudice, would be released directly to Xbox Live and PSN for only $15 and promised a full campaign and multiplayer content for the price. Have the team at Timegate managed to deliver on their promises?
Section 8: Prejudice takes place shortly after the events of the first game. You play as Captain Corde, hero of the Orion Arm conflict from the previous installment. The 8th armored infantry is in the process of mopping up the last remnants of the Arm of Orion as an old enemy reemerges from the past to threaten the human race. A band of genetically engineered super soldiers created by the military, and subsequently were hunted down and thought to be dead. You, along with the remaining members of the 8th Infantry are to put down this threat at all costs.
The first and foremost improvement that you’ll notice right off the bat is a far more fleshed out and robust story than the previous installment. While the universal complaint of the original was that the single player campaign was too short and not much more than a tutorial to the multiplayer, Timegate has apparently taken the criticism to heart and given the single player experience a lot more polish this time around. Your missions through the game vary from moving objectives, such as taking out convoys and infiltrating enemy facilities, to point-to-point objectives such as defending certain points on a map while waves of enemies attack from all directions.
Timegate adds a few vehicle-based sections here and there to break up the monotony; however, some of the vehicles could have used a bit more fit and finish in the controls. For instance in one mission, you have to maneuver a hover-bike to different points on a map to destroy certain enemy strongholds. The controls feel a bit sluggish while riding the hover-bike which causes you to pay a little too much attention to making sure you aren’t driving into every building and boulder between stops instead of the enemies that are trying to vaporize you.
Weapons seem to be a bit out of balance in the single player campaign as well. For instance, the rocket launcher will take out a missile launcher station with one or two well placed rockets; however it does nearly zero area of effect damage and still takes two shots to kill an enemy foot soldier at point blank range. Grenades and remote charges seem to be all but ineffective as well. For most of the game I just stuck with my trusty machine gun and kept the rocket launcher handy for the automated emplacements. While we are told that weapons are specialized for targets in Prejudice, (and I don't expect to be able to take a missile battery down with the machine gun) I do expect a missile to the face to trump foot soldier.
Graphically the game is beautiful. Your environments vary from jungle terrain to massive glaciers and volcanic regions, to give you a little variety while playing. Every object seems to be constructed in stunning detail. From the buildings to the suits and weapons to the lighting effects from mining lasers and thruster flares, the game is simply gorgeous. While many of the assets from the original game were most likely imported and gussied up for the sequel, you have to give credit where credit is due. For a game that's just under two gigabytes in size, it's absolutely amazing how much they've managed to pack into that tiny package. It was purely surprising to see that they didn't have to make any sacrifices in order to get the same amount of high quality detail into this digital-only release.
Prejudice doesn't make it through the graphical scrutiny completely unscathed, however. You do notice a fair amount of texture pop, especially during the cut scenes or while you're in the customization menus. While you only experience momentary graphical glitches, they are noticeable and detract from the overall beauty of this game. Granted, Prejudice is packed with enough action that you don't really have much time to stop and analyze the roses, but you do catch it after a while; and then it starts to annoy you during those few moments that it does.
While Prejudice carries a more robust campaign to make for a more savory appetizer, the multiplayer is truly a meal unto itself. A 32 player battle for control across a wide area map known as conquest is available to you, providing for some intense action across the battlefield. You'll drop straight into hell once your foes figure out how to use the AAA guns to take you down as you brake in the air. Here's a tip: wait to brake until the last minute, or else you'll become fodder.
The next mode is Swarm. This mode is essentially a Horde mode where attackers come in waves as you defend a control point. These waves of attackers become progressively more difficult as you clear them out. What makes this interesting is that you get a bit of Tower Defense thrown in as you earn requisition points, which allows you to purchase equipment such as mini-gun or rocket launcher emplacements that get dropped from orbit. These drops will assist you in the defense of your control point along the way.
Timegate has taken a lot of what the reviewers and community had to say about the previous installment to heart and made significant improvements with Section 8: Prejudice. For $15 you get a lot of value with a robust single player campaign and fully featured multiplayer experience. Aside from the minor issues which can be taken care of with a quick patch, this game is a top notch production.
Section 8 Prejudice is currently available for Xbox 360 and will be released for Playstation 3 later this Summer.