In the wake of games like Call of Duty, Halo, and now Battlefield: Bad Company 2, it is inevitable that less popular games are going to fall by the wayside in the face of these mega-releases. Despite this inevitability, it's no less disappointing when a great game is all but ignored simply because it comes from a smaller developer and a no-name publisher. It's also not going to stop me pleading for people to play it.
Today's fantastic game that too few people play?
1) You enjoyed Tribes
Looking at screenshots, one might not be immediately reminded of Tribes. Sure, Section 8 has large wide-open maps, but what game today doesn't? The big throwback comes in freedom and maneuverability that comes with the jetpack.
Just like in tribes, you can free yourself momentarily from the constraints of gravity to dodge a rocket, get away from an opponent, or get a great sniping position. Really skilled players will sometimes even snipe while flying around the map; this requires crazy skill and is always super-impressive to see.
2) You enjoyed Halo: CE
A movement speed that feels like the player character is equipped with Link's Iron Boots, a truly killer pistol that can easily kill in three shots at close range, and big armored dudes shooting big guns that take a lot of ammo to take down; the similarities might be somewhat abstract, but they are there. The game holds way more appeal to fans of sci-fi fare like Halo than players who demand realism in their shooters.
It takes a lot to kill another player because of rechargable shields,like in Halo CE, that allow them to shrug off some shots before taking any permanent damage. Combined with the visceral effect of shooting big bullets from big guns that was present in Halo in 2001, if not still today, old fans might find themselves having a few flashbacks.
3) You enjoyed ET: Quake Wars
Section 8's objectives and design will appeal to people who enjoyed the structure of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. Although the maps in Section 8 don't immediately present the player with objectives outside of the normal conquest game type, persistant objectives soon pop up to keep the action interesting.
Like Quake Wars, you may find that your character class is especially useful for an objective that requires you to hunt down an enemy VIP or hold an objective location. Only, instead of appearing in a predetermined order and area, the various objectives in Section 8 occur and spawn randomly. You will often find yourself having to choose between protecting a control point, and going to help a group trying to escort a convoy or capture some intel.
Also like Quake Wars, killing players and completing objectives earns cash that can be used to summon turrets, radar structures, or vehicles.
4) Dedicated servers
This isn't as much of a bonus for PC players as it is for the Xbox crowd, but the game supports dedicated servers across all platforms. This includes Xbox 360.
I'll let that sink in for a second. Whereas most games rely on a P2P connection (this includes Halo 3, Gears of War 2, and Call of Duty, and is the reason for the host advantage), Section 8 uses dedicated servers. Not only that, but Timegate has provided a client that allows users to host their own servers.
Any PC with a fast enough internet connection can host a server, and even though most user-run servers max out around 12-18 players (as opposed to official servers which typically hold 24-32), it adds a layer of reliability to the multiplayer infrastructure.
Interestingly enough, I logged on to play today, and found that I was getting thrown into several user-run servers. Thinking it was just a fluke, I continued to play for a couple of hours. It wasn't until I had quit to the menu and was about to turn the game off that I saw a message that said that the multiplayer servers at SouthPeak were down. Despite this, I could still play the game just as well as when they were up, all thanks to the user-run dedicated servers.
5) You can run at the SPEED OF SOUND
That's right. The speed of sound. Huge maps plus a slow movement speed seems like a bad combination, at least until you sprint forward for a few seconds , hit a button, and take off like a strange inter-breeding between an Olympic runner and a cheetah. There is a sonic boom, and the map flies by while the wind whistles past your helmet.
It is really, really, cool.
Do you remember Medal of Honor: Airborne? Remember how it was almost peaceful as you parachuted into a hellish war-torn battlefield? What if you were thrown at the ground and fell like a meteor toward the ground, hell bent on destroying the enemy base?
Spawning is like that. When you spawn, you are shot at the ground from a VTOL very high in the atmosphere. You pick where you drop on a mini-map before you spawn, and can eventually slow your fall and steer to any other nearby part of the map to land in a good sniping position, dodge anti-air fire, or crush an enemy player with your spawn drop.
That's right. You can kill people by falling on them from 15,000 feet in the air.
And then you can capture their base.
7) There's no martyrdom
This is self-explanatory.
8) The Assault Rifle actually kills things
Assault Rifles are given to most of our military forces for a good reason: they are damned powerful guns. Assault Rifles, for the uninitiated, are essentially all-purpose small arms that build their strength upon the weaknesses of other guns. They are more accurate than an LMG, shoot faster than a bolt-action rifle, and are better at close range than a sniper rifle.
In Section 8, the Assault Rifle is the best gun in the game. Not because of any piercing strength the gun has, but because it simply has no weakness. In any given situation, someone with an assault rifle always has a chance.
In Halo 3, if you are carrying the assault rifle, you are asking politely to be killed. If someone comes at you with something that isn't the assault rifle, than you might as well just stand there. You might do more damage that way.
9) The Mech
Sure, there are plenty of other mech-walkers in plenty of other games. There are even plenty of mech-walkers that stomp around the field carrying dual mini-guns.
But can these other mechs leap at opponents, pick them up King-Kong style, and crush their fragile bodies against the ground like an insect?
No, no they can't.
10) To prove Jim Sterling wrong
When Section 8 was released, Destructoid's Jim Sterling wrote a review, saying he liked the game, but was saddened that nobody was playing it online. He discouraged people from buying the game because he couldn't find any multiplayer matches. SouthPeak responded and fixed the bug that had been plaguing Sterling, and though he wrote another post about it, the review of the game was never updated and contains no information indicative that the bug was fixed.
Maybe it's negligence, maybe it is a small oversight by a game journalist during a busy part of the year. Either way, its an error. I play Section 8 online all the time, and even today, when the servers were down, I had no trouble getting into games.
And to all Destructoid readers who might stumble across this, who doesn't love burning Jim Sterling when he messes up?
Section 8 is one of those games that I think would fit nicely in many people's libraries, but won't because of poor marketing and the fact that the game is from a small time publisher when competing games like Modern Warfare 2, Bad Company 2, and even Halo 3 own the market.
I wouldn't advise you poorly, and for those who are convinced, there's a demo on Xbox Live, so I suggest that you give it a try!, The single player is pretty lackluster (like most multiplayer shooters), and the map selection is pretty small. All of the maps consist of small cuts of 5 larger maps (which are also available for play). There is also a very good DLC pack for 560 Microsoft Points that adds three more maps. While I wouldn't suggest paying $60 for this game, it's easily worth your dollars found on the cheap.