The elite fighting force of Section 8 return to action once more in a download-only sequel that’s got more content and a lower price tag than the original retail release. Section 8: Prejudice, as it is known, packs in a five-hour single-player campaign in addition to a forty-player multiplayer mode, and a four-player co-op survival mode.
Costing just $14.99 on digital download services, Section 8: Prejudice defies established norms by containing more content than most $59.99 releases. The aforementioned single-player campaign is fully scripted, includes cut-scenes, continues the story of Section 8 soldier Alex Corde from the original game, and can be replayed on three difficulty levels for extra challenge, and to unlock Games For Windows Live Achievements.
Complementing the campaign is the mode du jour, Swarm. Going by many names in many games, Section 8: Prejudice’s variation of the survival game type tasks four players with surviving for fifteen minutes against AI-controlled enemies who increase in lethality and intensity every five. To help even the odds, players generate cash through kills and other actions, and with that cash can summon deployable turrets, supply stations, radar stations, and even vehicles. Death is not an obstacle, with players able to return to the battlefield rapidly, but if the enemy captures the victory point it is indeed game over. And like the single-player campaign, three difficulty levels can be tackled, with success unlocking Achievements and further maps to play in.
The main attraction in Section 8: Prejudice is undoubtedly the Conquest multiplayer mode, pitting teams of twenty against one another. Through killing, repairing, supporting others, and a number of other actions, players will gradually rank up, unlocking sixty-odd weapons, equipment variations, and upgrades, creating new tactical opportunities on the battlefield.
Like Swarm, success revolves around the capture and control of key victory points – the team that reaches the capture limit first, or has the most capture points when the clock reaches zero, wins. And as in Swarm, killing and a multitude of other actions generate cash that players can spend on deployable turrets, supply stations, radar stations, and three vehicles.
Teams can boost their victory point total through the completion of Dynamic Combat Missions that task teams and players with completing an objective, such as protecting an AI-controlled VIP for a period of time, collecting items on the battlefield, or escorting a vehicle from point A to point B. Complicating matters, the entire enemy team is notified of the objectives and can choose to interject. Successfully completing the objective grants up to one hundred points and a secondary bonus that may result in the VIP remaining on the battlefield, or all enemies being marked for a period of time. Should the enemy successfully foil the mission they will receive up to fifty victory points, and will of course prevent their enemies from attaining the aforementioned, powerful perks.
All that remains is to talk about Section 8: Prejudice’s pièce de résistance, its unique burn-in spawning system. Upon death, players are presented with a loadout screen, allowing them to pick and choose between pre-made selections of weapons, armour and ability upgrades, or to create their own, and a real-time map of the battlefield showing ally placement and whether victory points are in enemy or allied hands. By clicking the map the player selects their general spawn vicinity, and shortly thereafter they are ejected with force from the dropship, and plummet towards the ground below at great speed.
An elevation meter indicates the player’s distance from the ground, and an on-screen prompt recommends when to initiate air brakes to allow for instant movement when the player finally splashes down with a significant thud. However, if the player is entering an area containing an enemy anti-aircraft canon, they can instead choose not to brake, and hope that their chosen upgrades boosted their armour sufficiently to survive the barrage of ack ack munitions. Those unable to do so must instead manoeuvre out of range, or try their luck once more in a more suitable landing location.
The effect and mechanic is truly wonderful, and never gets old, and when you factor in the sprinting system that enables players to traverse great distances quickly, the jetpack and equipment abilities, and the chance to land directly on an enemy player, killing them instantly, you are faced with a highly enjoyable, varied first-person shooter that doesn’t break the bank, and even runs in 3D Vision, resulting in extra depth perception and the feeling of being in a combat helmet with a futuristic, floating HUD, à la District 9.