Section 8: Prejudice [Review]

Did TimeGate hit the mark with their downloadable sequel? Read on to find out.

Section 8: Prejudice

After the original Section 8 was released to a lukewarm reception a year and a half ago, TimeGate decided to retool their approach a bit.  As a full-price retail title, the first game faced heavy competition and along with the lack of a quality single player campaign was not received favorably by critics or gamers alike.  The recently released sequel, Section 8: Prejudice, fares better as a budget priced downloadable title with a more fleshed out campaign and enjoyable multiplayer.  Prejudice isn’t going to permanently lure you away from your FPS of choice, but it does offer console gamers a fun detour at a very reasonable price of $15.

You’ve probably heard it said before, but Section 8’s single player campaign was nothing but an extremely brief introduction to the franchise that served as a glorified tutorial for the multiplayer.  Amazingly, the arcade sequel packs in a fully realized story mode for a fraction of the price.  The multiplayer is still the main attraction here, but Prejudice’s campaign lasts several hours and provides some fun, if somewhat formulaic, experiences.

In the new installment in the Section 8 series, the super suit-equipped special ops force from the previous title have been betrayed and left to die – and they’re none too happy about it.  Now it’s up to you, Captain Alex Corde, and your space marine comrades to take down these soldiers turned terrorists before they can wipe out an entire space colony.  If you find yourself wondering what exactly the motivation is here, it’s best to put those thoughts aside.  The voice work is incredibly hammy and the story isn’t much more complicated than your average sci-fi shooter.  The point is you’re in outer space and you have some pretty awesome powers.  Start shooting stuff.

As Corde, you’ll constantly be tasked with hacking this terminal or activating that turret while holding off the enemy Arm of Orion forces.  TimeGate doesn’t introduce any new aspects that are going to push the genre forward.  You’re either going to be blasting through bad dudes or messing around with computers while enemies try to gun you and/or your allies down.  Okay, so there are a few vehicle and mech missions that thankfully change the pacing a bit.  But the single player is by and large formulaic and derivative of other entries in the overcrowded genre.

Section 8: Prejudice

Even with my complaints regarding the simplicity of the game, I enjoyed the campaign of Prejudice.  If this was the game’s only mode, it wouldn’t be worth purchasing.  Yet as a complimentary addition to the multiplayer swarm and conquest modes, single player is a decent way to get more mileage out of Prejudice.  Sadly, the enemy AI is good old fashioned rock stupid.  During a sniper mission, you’ll be bewildered as to why your targets continue to stand still in compromised positions after you’ve picked off several of their buddies.  In most combat scenarios, you can succeed by just standing still and holding down your trigger finger until your adversary’s health bar runs down.  If Section 8: Prejudice gets a sequel, and the ending implies that it likely will, enemy AI should be the first issue the team tackles.

The good news is that everything looks great while you’re blasting through these simpletons.  Prejudice’s Unreal Engine 3-powered visuals are not what we’ve come to expect from arcade games.  Quite simply: you won’t find a better looking game than this for fifteen bucks.  There’s even plenty of retail releases that are put to shame by what’s on display here.  Everything isn’t perfect, however.  Characters will occasionally talk without moving their lips and there’s a frequent problem with textures loading in right before your eyes.  That being said, the environments are varied and the snow levels are particularly impressive.  The suit designs are a little silly, but they fit in well with the series’ light-hearted approach to sci-fi.

The true meat of Prejudice is its competitive multiplayer.  During my first few matches with the game, I felt like there was far too much junk on the HUD and I suffered from a bit of disorientation.  After sticking through the initial feeling of being overwhelmed, it started to click and I was having fun blasting fools and chasing down objectives.  You’ll be doing plenty of the latter, because matches always play out with a series of shifting objectives that reminded me of Killzone.

It can get irritating when the dynamically changing point of interest ends up on the polar opposite side of the large maps.  This is offset some by the fact that you can gain points by doing just about anything.  The winning side usually has completed the most objectives though, so you’ll be doing a ton of running back and forth if you want to be successful.

As in the single player, many of the objectives will involve tracking down and taking control of terminals around the map.  It’s a constant balance between killing foes, protecting controlled points and hunting down timed objectives.  This works well for the most part, but I still wish there was less clutter on the screen.  It’s nice to know where the four control points are, but do I need to constantly be reminded of every single turret on the map?  Probably not.

Section 8: Prejudice

Players skydive in when spawning and have to be careful to avoid anti-air guns in the process.  The first few times you emerge into battle by plummeting through the sky can be pretty fun.  Do it a few dozen times, however, and you’ll start to get sick of the delay it causes before getting back into the fight.  The other issue is that the mini-map shows you where the unsafe areas are before spawning.  The trouble is that AA guns will sometimes fall under enemy control after you jump but before you hit the ground.  This results in some sudden and infuriating deaths.  I personally would have preferred just to spawn on the ground.

If you’re planning on playing in a party, there’s going to be some headaches.  Prejudice doesn’t have a real party mode and that just doesn’t cut it in 2011.  You and your buddies will have to jump in and out of matches as well as teams several times during each outing before you all get on the same faction.  Fellow downloadable shooter Monday Night Combat had the same crippling issue at launch, but it was eventually fixed by a patch.  Here’s hoping TimeGate does the same and soon.

Section 8: Prejudice also features the requisite firefight/horde type mode, known as “swarm.”  Your team of four is given a small base to protect from increasingly difficult waves of enemy troops.  Instead of merely wiping everyone out, the task is to protect the terminals from getting hacked.  Working together with your teammates and selecting balanced loadouts and deployable turrets are critical to ensuring victory.  The need for cooperation and the defense-first nature of the mode sets it apart from other takes on the formula. Swarm offers more incentive to keep coming back to Prejudice for a few weeks if you’re not in the mood for competitive multiplayer.

Poor AI, weak mission design and a lackluster party system hold back TimeGate’s sequel.  Prejudice hardly sets the new standard for online shooters, but it does offer a fairly unique competitive mode for 360 owners.  There’s also no denying that there’s a lot of content packed into this inexpensive package.  If you’re ready for a break from Halo or Call of Duty, you could do a heck of a lot worse than Section 8.

Nick Santangelo
Nick Santangelo
Nick Santangelo

MASH Veteran

Nick has been a gamer since the 8-bit days and a member of the MTB editorial team since January of 2011. He is not to be interrupted while questing his way through an RPG or desperately clinging to hope against all reason that his Philly sports teams will win any given game he may be watching. Seriously folks, reading this acknowledges that you relieve MTB of any and all legal liability for his actions.

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