Publisher: Southpeak Games
System requirements: Windows XP SP3 or Vista SP1, 3.0 ghz Pentium 4 or higher, GeForce 7800 or Radeon X1800 graphics card, 1 gb RAM (2 gb for Vista), 6 gb hard-drive space, broadband connection for multiplayer
Genre: First Person Shooter
Release date: September 2009
Section 8 is a futuristic combat game in which two teams of Angry Internet Men shoot, stab and smash the crap out of each other, all while jumping out of spacecraft without parachutes, leaping across buildings in jet-pack-powered jumps, manning tanks and bipedal war machines and generally blowing stuff up. Team 1 is called The 8th Armoured Infantry Division, affectionately nicknamed Section 8 in reference to a code used for those who are mentally unfit to serve in the armed forces. Their opponents are known as the Arm of Orion, and are some sort of insurgents.
The game starts with you selecting your character. The classes are fairly standard: assault, engineer, infiltrator, recon, guardian and artillery. None are set in stone, however, as you are free to mix and match to your heart’s content. Weapon choices include primary and secondary firearms as well as two slots for items such as grenades or repair tools. Additionally there are 10 passive module slots, which you can fill to gain more damage, more shields, and less recoil.
Unlike many other games that assign you a spawn point or allow you to select from among a few of those, Section 8 lets you spawn anywhere on the map. But in reality, you don’t even spawn; you jump out of a spaceship and fall to the battlefield. Once close enough to the ground, you engage the jet pack to break your descent, and you can even stir a little for a better tactical landing. Don’t think you can drop right on top of an enemy base, though; you’ll be picked off by anti-air before you know what hit you.
Once on the ground the goal is to gain the most points by capturing and holding bases, killing enemies and completing missions. Unlike some simpler run ‘n’ gun games, you earn points for your team as you play. These points start the side missions, such as protecting the VIP or stealing the enemy’s intelligence assets. Of course, it’s important to prevent the enemy from completing its missions as well. You can also earn money to buy tanks, walkers, turrets, supply depots and other useful things.
As for the combat itself, it’s fast and exciting. Everyone has shields that recharge, so killing enemies involves lowering their shields first. Fortunately there is a lock-on feature that automatically tracks your target for a few seconds when activated. The jet-pack allows you to fly high, but it takes a moment to cool down. You can also run across the map at vehicular speeds, which is very useful. Overall the gameplay is reminiscent of Tribes, Unreal Tournament, Team Fortress and similar games.
While everything about Section 8 sounds generic, don’t dismiss it. It’s beautiful, bright and full of primary colors. It’s easy to get started, and you can begin playing right away. There’s also a single-player campaign that I haven’t seen yet, but if the rest of the game is any indication, I’m certainly looking forward to playing it.