Giant Bomb Review

30 Comments

Section 8 Review

3
  • X360
  • PC

Section 8 has some cool ideas at its core, but the execution falls flat too often to be wholly recommendable.


You'll drop from the sky onto the map every time you spawn. It's pretty cool. 
Section 8 is a sci-fi-themed first-person shooter in which men in shielded power armor do battle with a variety of weapons. On paper, a list of Section 8's features and concepts make it sound pretty cool. In practice, however, this large-scale, multiplayer-focused release doesn't get the feel of its weapons down, resulting in action that often feels disconnected and flat. When taken with its poor attempt at crafting a single-player campaign, you're left with a well-meaning game that fails to engage players.

In Section 8, the combatants wear large, armored suits and are launched into battle from the sky. Every time you spawn, you spawn ten seconds above ground, screaming down to the planet's surface at breakneck speeds. Also, you can choose to spawn just about anywhere on the map in multiplayer matches... but choosing to drop in an area covered by the enemy's anti-aircraft guns is akin to suicide. Once you're on the ground, the game is decidedly Battlefield-like. The maps grow and shrink to fit different player counts (up to 32 players can get together, even on the 360, provided you're connected to a dedicated server) and the action is all about raising your team's score by taking hold of control points while preventing the opposing team from doing the same. You'll do this by gunning them down with a handful of different futuristic-looking, but very standard weapons, such as an assault rifle, a heavy machine gun, a rocket launcher, a sniper rifle, grenades, and so on. The game lets you configure your loadouts to adhere to a handful of preset classes, but you can also build your own custom loadouts to choose which weapons you want to fight with. You can also change loadouts on the battlefield at supply depots, some of which come with holding certain control points. But you can also deploy them yourself.

An interesting twist to Section 8's gameplay is that you can earn money that can be spent on deployable gear. Like yourself, it's also dropped in from the sky, so it's a good thing that all of the maps take place almost completely outside. You can drop anti-personnel turrets, anti-air guns, sensor arrays that show enemy movement on your team's map, vehicles, and so on. While it's not something that totally makes or breaks the game, the concept of deployable gear is pretty neat.

The weapons look futuristic, but behave in a very standard way. 
On top of the control points, Section 8 will also give you side missions to complete during a battle, such as delivering a bomb to a specific location, protecting an AI-based VIP character as he makes his way from one control point to another, driving a convoy across the map, and so on. It's tactically interesting when these come up, because you have to decide if you're going to go for these optional missions or stick with the control point gameplay. Earning points by completing specific feats on the battlefield lets you trigger these side missions. But the AI-controlled VIP moves slowly and rarely takes the safest path to his destination, making those annoying. All of the vehicle control in Section 8 is pretty bad, making convoy a bit of a bust, too.

The big problem that puts a serious hurt on everything else in Section 8 is that weapons feel very limp. They look like big, scary, sci-fi guns, but don't feel like they're doing serious damage when they connect. The soldiers on the battlefield have shields and health meters, and when you're shooting a target, it feels like you're just staring at the meters and watching them drop instead of seeing any actual damage on the soldiers. The only real piece of visual feedback you get aside from the meters is a flash that indicates when a soldier's shields have dropped. But some weapons seem to cut through shields and do direct damage to a player's health, too. All of the meter-watching may be effective, but it also gets in the way and makes the game a bit less immersive.

The multiplayer mode is the first item on the game's main menu, which gives you a good sense of what the developers' priorities must have been. Below that there's an "instant action" option that lets you play against bots, which isn't very exciting at all. Bots can also appear in online games. Under that is the game's campaign, a short set of missions that feels like it was cobbled together at the last minute. The campaign is a lot like the multiplayer, except it's a one-way fight as you stomp your way from one checkpoint to the next. When you die, you simply respawn at the last checkpoint and continue the fight where you left off. This means you can complete just about any objective by just throwing yourself at it again and again. It requires no skill to accomplish and doesn't teach you very much about the game, either, so it isn't an effective tutorial for multiplayer. The only time it seemed like there was something I could fail at with consequence was when I was asked to escort a convoy across a bridge. The rest of the game can be completed by running past most of your enemies and getting right to the control point or terminal or whatever the next objective is. It's a pretty lame excuse for a single-player component.

Visually, the game's best feature is the size of its maps. Much like a Battlefield game, these areas can be quite large, though your power suit's high-speed running abilities make crossing a map pretty easy. The character models don't look so great and the in-game animation isn't terrific, either. The sound effects and voice work are fairly standard.

There are some neat aspects of Section 8 and some good ideas that keep the game from getting too straightforward. But it feels like half of a game. The single-player campaign is a joke and this style of large-scale multiplayer has been done better elsewhere. Considering how competitive the multiplayer shooter genre is, that puts Section 8 in a pretty tough spot. But if you're looking for a different take on the Battlefield style, Section 8 does have its share of interesting moments. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
30 Comments
Posted by Venatio

I thought the demo sucked

Posted by andrewf87462

Yeah I wasn't too keen on the demo, this is one to rent for me though!
Posted by Hailinel

Hmm.  Another game by the now former Gamecock Media Group that's doing mediocre in reviews.  Was Gamecock ever involved with any game that actually got decent press?

Online
Posted by Jimbo

*Crosses off list*
 
Thanks!

Posted by Novyx

It makes me curious if a patch to the weapons could make it work. My experience with the demo was exactly what this review is describing. Rockets should HURT.

Posted by Sikboy1029

I enjoyed the beta on the PC. Won't pay full price but I'll buy it when there's a discount/sale on Steam.

Posted by nail1080

I guess none of GB's friends were working on this one so no 5 stars here folks

Posted by Damian

I'm having Shadowrun flashbacks, minus the charm.

Posted by Claude

I like to call these type of games, this gen shovelware.

Posted by Mercanis

@Jeff: 
 
Weapons bypass shields and deal direct damage when opponents are within a certain range. Just thought I should clarify when that happens.

Posted by Jayzilla

it just seemed like the same old same old to me. it was cool, but not terribly fun. i really think more games should use that type of drop in to prevent spawn camping though.

Edited by HAMMERCLAW

The name of the game is Section 8, for chrissakes. Anyone who pays full price for this turkey should have a copy of Brute Force thrown in for free. Section 8 is just another stark example of the minimalist approach to storytelling in video games.

Posted by Delta_Ass
@HAMMERCLAW said:
" The name of the game is Section 8, for chrissakes. Anyone who pays full price for this turkey should have a copy of Brute Force thrown in for free. Section 8 is just another stark example of the minimalist approach to storytelling in video games. "
Ummmm... what?
 
It's a Battlefield/Tribes-style multiplayer FPS. Of course it's not gonna have much of a story. WTF? That's like expecting great characterization in a racing sim.
Posted by Jeffsekai

This is getting silly, yet another game that isn't broken gating rated lower than a completely broken game.

Posted by Delta_Ass

I'm pretty sure the machine gun is the weapon that bypasses shields at close range. The assault rifle always has to go through shielding.

Posted by MisterMollusk
@nail1080: troll some?
Posted by natetodamax

This game looks terribly generic.

Posted by RHCPfan24
@nail1080 said:
" I guess none of GB's friends were working on this one so no 5 stars here folks "
You have been in troll mode all day (and possibly all the time). Please, for yours and our sake, GTFO.
Posted by BranDong

I enjoyed playing this game with 2 of my other friends ... in private chat... against who knows who else... honestly it was pretty fun. Has good stat tracking in it also .  But I agree the weapons seem pretty damned weak

Posted by Veektarius

What I don't get about this game is the lack of viable single-player.  I remember it being pitched on its story when it was first announced, where you were part of some ultra-high tech American unit tasked to stamp out terrorism in the future.  The FMV certainly didn't seem to indicate it was just a PvPfest. 
Posted by Rinkalicous
@Jeffsekai said:
" This is getting silly, yet another game that isn't broken gating rated lower than a completely broken game. "
Bare in mind that giant bomb ratings don't pretend to be the be-all and end-all of reviews- it's Just how much Jeff liked the game. He liked it a mediocre amount, and thought it had some problems. Therefore it got 3 stars.
Posted by Lunarbunny

Meh. I tried it, I now refer to it as "Refrigerator Wars," referring to the Zero Punctuation STALKER: Clear Sky review. I shouldn't need to reload twice just to kill a guy that I'm hitting.

Posted by TheRugbyGod

This game has  a lot of great ideas but it's over all feel is way too familiar.  The guns are underwhelming.  The only real redeeming feature is the drop in spawn again, cool, but not mind-blowing.  Color me bored.

Posted by Media_Master

sounds like odst in the whole "drop into the battlefield" style but done generically.

Posted by Delta_Ass
@Media_Master said:
" sounds like odst in the whole "drop into the battlefield" style but done generically. "
Ya know, Halo ODST isn't the first time that infantry dropped into a battlefield. Easy Company did it back in WW2.
Posted by AutomaticSnake

3 stars too high

Edited by GeekyDad

It's SouthPeak...not much else to add, really. Though if you dig this, chances are Pirates vs. Ninjas Dodgeball will be a real hit for ya'.

Posted by darkjester74

I get the feeling Jeff really wanted to like this game, but it just wasnt in the cards.  I played the demo for 15 minutes and was immediately convinced that I did NOT want to play this game.

Posted by Death_Burnout

Not at all related to District 9, right?