I’ll admit that I never played the original Section 8, a multiplayer focused title on the 360, PS3 and PC with slick looking space marines that could free fall from the sky into battle. Sadly the game was short lived, because like any multiplayer only title, it lives and dies by the player base. While the original was a full retail release, the game is getting a downloadable sequel just as fully featured, but priced at a friendly $15. Timegate hopes that this will bring in more players and keep more players around longer. We went hands on with a recent preview build of Section 8: Prejudice on the PC and came away with some impressions, including a brand new 4 player co-op mode called Swarm.
One of the main complaints the community had with Section 8 was the lack of true single player content, instead the game only offered a tutorial like mode. Section 8: Prejudice fixes this by adding a story based campaign that Timegate says will take 5 or 6 hours to complete. The first mission I played started with your traditional learn the controls type stuff, but finishes up as your training facility becomes under attack. You’re forced to pursue an escaping prisoner and deal with enemies as they drop in from the sky around you. Visually Prejudice looks great, based on the Unreal Engine 3 the vistas are big an expansive, the game’s colors are vibrant, and the rush as you drop into battle is top notch.
The second mission of the campaign I tried had me continuing my pursuit - but this time I was on the offensive. I worked my way through a canyon taking out gun turrets, dodging snipers, and riding hover bikes. The story itself is mostly presented through dialogue over the radio with your squad and the commander...who sounds a lot like the voice of Crackdown. The story won't win any awards for originality, but it does give the game some character.
Moving on from this mode I dove headfirst (literally) into the game’s meat and potatoes - Conquest mode. This 16vs16 player mode has players capturing and holding control points to win the match. Section 8: Prejudice throws some curveballs though as you are able to purchase different objects to bolster your arsenal throughout the match - these include turrets, hover bikes and even mechs. Another unique feature are the dynamic sub missions that occur - whether its protecting a VIP or gathering salvage for bonus points, these quick objectives helps break the monotany of the multiplayer match of just defending or capturing a point. The other thing they do is force players to move instead of being stagnant.
Last but not least I gave the game’s 4 player co-op Swarm mode a try. The goal of this mode is to survive and guard a terminal for 15 minutes against waves of increasingly difficult enemies that drop in. There’s a distinct feel of Monday Night Combat’s Blitz mode here, but it’s a lot more open and flexible. The maps are larger, you can place your defensive items anywhere on the map, and the attacking enemies are much smarter. Like Conquest you’ll find mini-missions popping up during your defense to earn yourself bonus cash to purchase more items. For every 5 minutes that you survive, you’ll earn an air strike that clears the map and allows your team some time to regroup from the chaos - repairing damaged emplacements, buying new ones, and redefining strategy. One nice touch for co-op players is the ability to have friendly fire on, off, or limited to only doing damage to a teammate’s shields.