While at PAX East this year I got a chance to play Section 8: Prejudice. I have to admit, I really didn’t think it would be that great. The original Section 8 was rather mediocre and just wasn’t that fun to play. I went over to the Microsoft booth expecting to see some fixes, a few upgrades, and that’s it. Fortunately, I was wrong!
The first thing I noticed was that the game appeared to be more polished visually. There isn’t anything mind blowing about the visuals, but they are definitely on the higher end of the console spectrum. The game has clear, clean, detailed graphics with a steady frame rate; something that isn’t present in every console game, especially as the consoles continue to age. When I first started playing, I was immediately able to get a feel for the controls. Anyone that is familiar with shooters should be able to pick up Section 8: Prejudice’s control scheme very easily. There is one item that may feel a bit out of place; the jump/jet pack button. It’s located on the left bumper instead of one of your more traditional locations. After I played with it for a few minutes I wondered why more console FPS’s don’t assign jump to this button. It allowed me full movement while jumping/hovering above the ground; something that definitely helped me dispatch of a few enemies more efficiently.
If you’ve played the first Section 8, then you already know you spawn by being shot from your base in the sky. This feature is still 100% intact and a welcomed mechanic since it gives you the ability to spawn anywhere on the map… As long as there are no anti-air turrets around. One thing that has changed about the drop spawn is now it is in third person perspective. This allows you to fully control your fall. After you hit the air brake, you will be able to pin point your landing zone.
Allies and enemies aren’t the only thing falling from the sky in Section 8: Prejudice. You can now call down items such as turrets, supply depots, vehicles, etc. to the battlefield. Dropping the right deployable at the right time can definitely make the difference between if you’re going to keep that point you’re defending or not. Also, supply depots allow you to change you load out on the fly as well as reassign your upgrade points. This has the potential to keep the battlefield interesting since you can completely adjust to what your enemy is throwing at you, and then they can readjust to your changes.
Dynamic Combat Missions are coming back for the sequel. Dynamic Combat Missions pop up at any time during your battle with a new objective that, if completed, will help your team score some major points. This could be anything from launching air strikes to collecting intel. It helps keep things interesting. Lock on also makes a comeback, but it’s been nerfed… in a good way. Lock on is only active for a certain number of shots and also has a long cool down so it’s something good to use in a pinch, but can’t be used as a replacement for skill. The weapons arsenal has definitely been expanded. S8: Prejudice will have over 60 weapon, equipment, and upgrade variants as you advance through the ranks. You can mix and match weapons, upgrades, and armor to fit your play style.
There are two multiplayer modes available. Conquest for those that like to go head to head with another team, and swarm for those who like to play as a team against enemy NPCs. Swarm is only four player co-op, however Conquest will be able to support 32 players on the 360 and 40 players on the PC. The single player has been greatly expanded since, well, they actually have a single player instead of an offline multiplayer tutorial. The single player is said to be about 5 hours, but I guess that depends on how good you are.
If I had to compare Section 8: Prejudice to anything, I guess the closest thing would be Halo; but that’s mainly because of the scenery, map size, and map setup. Personally, I think Prejudice has better weapons, vehicles, maneuverability, and more of a dynamic game play aspect. Prejudice also requires more team work than your standard FPS. You’re not going to be able to go lone wolf on a team that’s fairly organized and communicating with each other. I really enjoyed playing Prejudice, which surprised me but wasn’t my biggest shock. My biggest shock was when I found out that it’s only $15 and will be downloadable on XBLA soon.
For that price it’s a steal. The overall presentation of Prejudice is nothing short of what you would expect from a full $60 retail release, yet they are selling it for $15 and are planning to aggressively release DLC after the initial release. If you are a FPS fan, there really is no reason I can give for holding off on buying Section 8: Prejudice. It has everything you could want from a shooter; great multiplayer, full single player, and it comes at a low price. And before you bash the single player for being 5 hours, please remember that it takes less than that to beat Gears of War. There is no release date set yet, but we do know that it is scheduled to be released Q1 of 2011. Since Q2 is right around the corner I would expect for Section 8: Prejudice to be released soon. As soon as we hear more we will let you know.