by Marjolein Verheij
previewed on X360
Burn it baby
South Peak’s line-up was demonstrated by PR manager Rob Burman. He showed us Section 8’s character customization along with some of the game’s more interesting gameplay mechanics. At first glance, one might think that Section 8 is just another run of the mill Sci-Fi action game but that would be a mistake.
Its most innovative feature is that it does away with standard spawn points. Instead, you can 'burn-in' on the map, a free-fall from thousands of feet to the planet’s surface in an armored suit. Boosters allow you to slow your descend but if you start too early, you may end up being too slow a target and shot by snipers. Not using your boosters at all will result in a crash, causing you to be disorientated for a few moments after impact. Not so much fun when you land in the vicinity of enemies.
Before you jump, you will be shown a map of the combat area. Depending on which faction you play, Section 8 or the Arm of Orion, certain areas will flare up red. Dropping into these areas would be suicide as the anti air defenses would kill you before you hit the ground. However, if you would burn-in with your whole squad, there is a chance that some of you will get through as there would be too many targets for the defenses to shoot. It is a bloody way to grab a base, but early control of a base is a major advantage throughout the game. With a bit of luck, you can drop right on top of a person, which constitutes an instant kill.
The anti air turrets are strong but with hard work and a rocket launcher, it -is- possible to kill one by yourself. It takes some time for the base to repair one during which your friends can’t be harmed and can burn-in much closer to a base. Turrets can also be deployed in the field but these can only be repaired by the team that owns it.
You can choose to play as one of six pre-determined classes or play a custom class. Customization starts with a load out of two slots for primary and two for secondary weapons or items. Primary weapons are the assault rifle, missile launcher, machine gun, pistol, shotgun, and sniper rifle. The secondary slots come in the form of repair tools, hand grenades, sensor jammers, and cool hand thrown mortar. The repair tool seemed to be a must-bring item as it lets you repair/heal just about everything with damage, including armor and vehicles. The sensor jammer kills all sensors on the enemy base for a short while, giving you a chance to penetrate without being detected and possibly disabling their defenses.
Besides the weaponry, there are slots for Passive Modules that let you boost your character's armor and abilities. There are nine different module types, each with four slots. The modules include Anvil Rounds that penetrate armor, a Stealth Matrix that makes you harder to detect, the Polarity Charger that makes you run faster, and the Lock-on Booster that gives you more time to lock-on onto your target.
Section 8 has both a single and a multiplayer mode. The single player is there mostly for training but it also details the background behind the conflict between the 8th Armored Infantry and the Arm of Orion. Most of the action is found online in multiplayer games though. New are the dedicated Xbox 360 servers on which there is room for 32 players to compete. This is the highest number for multiplayer ever for the Xbox. The PC still beats this number though, offering multiplayer games with up to 40 players. Your multiplayer stats are tracked both in the game and online, showing your personal stats and those of clans as a whole. Winning a game is done by scoring points. The number of points can be set before starting a round and this determines the length of a game. A 1000 point game runs for about 15 minutes.
All 'deployables' such as vehicles, turrets and sensors are flown in. Their arrival isn’t guaranteed: both the drop pod and the drop ship can be intercepted by the enemy if they react quick enough. The vehicles include the Heavy Tank that has four seats and is best used in cooperation with your team mates and a powerful Heavy Armor Mech that has chain guns attached to both of its arms.
While playing, your team gathers Dynamic Campaign Mission (DCM) points which can be used to activate missions. These dynamic missions offer secondary objectives and are activated by the teams during matches. The DCM points come in four flavors: Siege, Assault, Recon and Support and most missions require a mix of these four. If your team takes great care in repairing objects, they will score a lot of DCM points in the Support category, allowing them to activate missions that require Support DCM points.
As you can see, calling Section 8 a standard First Person Action game wouldn’t do it justice. It has so much more to offer. Be sure to check it out when it is released next month.