Review | Section 8
With the action-packed dynamic comes a great number of deaths, but the respawn mechanic streamlines the process effectively. Respawning is very different in Section 8: when you die, you start off in a drop ship high above the battlefield. You choose your drop location, and the next thing you know you’re falling towards the ground at high speed. You can choose to deploy jet brakes or not – doing so slows your decent allowing you to make mid-air adjustments to your landing zone; not doing so allows for a much quicker decent but without the ability to adjust on the fly, and hitting the ground at such velocity does require a few seconds for your character to recover. Again, it’s all refreshing, taking the monotony out of the fixed location respawn and adding a little tactical thinking to the otherwise mindless action, as well as maintaining that high tempo that Section 8 relies on.
But there’s a severe lack or originality in Section 8. The respawn mechanic is pretty much the only new idea – it’s a good one, and it’ll be surprising if this isn’t used in future games, but everything else feels all too familiar. And despite how much fun Section 8 can be in the short term, it also reminds you of other tiles in the genre that may prove stronger at pulling in the crowds.
Combat is solid but nothing new. You can choose between several different classes of characters, from assault to sniper. Or better yet, you can create your own, choosing both your weapons and equipment in a rather unrestricted way. You can also redistribute points to your character’s different attributes, such as armour strength and bullet damage, to really shape the kind of character you want to suit your style of play.
With your character built and chosen, you’re dropped into the battle armed and ready, where you quickly find out that all that tweaking wasn’t really worth it. Your attributes have very little affect to how the game feels or plays, and the weapons feel oddly lacking in power. It’s all very functional, with sniper rifles being great for long range while assault rifles and shotguns are good for short, but it’s still underwhelming. The rocket launcher and grenades in particular don’t have anywhere near the kind of punch you would expect against infantry. Essentially, Section 8 bring together all the best elements from other, similar titles together in a very neat and tidy way, but it doesn’t expand on them, and lacks the appeal to convert dedicated players of its stronger competitors.
//Level playing field
Still, the balance in combat is impressive. Going up against an enemy one-on-one is a fight you’ll remember, and may succeed at, but taking on several enemies at once often proves suicidal. This encourages teamwork, but as of yet this teamwork rarely occurs organically. Instead, the lone wolf mentality prevails, leading to drawn out battles against similar thinking teams. Defensively, however, it’s a different story: a single player with the support of a few defensive structures can deal with multiple enemies without much of a problem. It all fits together in a surprisingly stable way; whichever mentality your team possesses, it all comes together harmoniously, and it’s not uncommon for a team to be losing by several hundred points but still steal the game within a few minutes.
The equilibrium is maintained even when vehicles get involved. While their armour is effective at keeping the driver safe, it doesn’t take too long to wear it down, and driving them is easy and smooth. The heavy armour is great for the lone wolf – the strong armour and weapons can cause a group of enemies to think twice about taking you on – but against a larger, well equipped group you’ll need something more substantial. The tank can turn the tide of battle in an instant, but requires a team of four people to operate effectively, with one driving and firing the main cannon, and the others manning the minigun, missile launcher and mortars. It’s a deadly piece of equipment and perfect for the more team-orientated players, and whilst the community isn’t always too good at working together when on foot, when a vehicle gets involved everybody gains a clue pretty quickly.
Indeed, Section 8 is a good game, and certainly worth a try. But its lack of flare prevents it form standing out from the crowd. The single-player campaign is crying out for more depth, and although the orbital drop into battle is unique and useful, the rest of the multiplayer experience has been seen before. But the old saying is apt here: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And while Section 8 definitely won’t redefine the genre, it does refine the combat experience to create a largely entertaining game.
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