There’s no standard Deathmatch mode here; all multiplayer matches are based on two teams capturing control points scattered around the map. Holding control points earns your team points towards the target score needed to win the match, but that’s just the beginning. Over the course of the match, players can trigger Dynamic Combat Missions (DCMs) that introduce new objectives in the middle of the game. Some DCMs require you to escort a convoy, assassinate a specific enemy character, steal enemy intel and more. Multiple DCMs can unfold on the map at the same time, so you may find yourself deciding between defending a Control Point, going after a bomb, or assaulting an enemy drop zone. The number of possibilities that can unfold during a match makes every multiplayer game of Section 8 feel distinct and unpredictable.
Completing DCMs, capturing control points, and killing enemies awards you with currency that can be used to buy deployable equipment that further adds layers of strategy. If you want to defend a control point but are needed elsewhere, purchase a turret to defend your base. If enemies are burning in right above you, fend them off by planting an anti-aircraft gun. Need to take down an enemy convoy? Call up a tank or a suit of Heavy Armor. These deployables add a nice layer of strategy to the game, and the aforementioned customizable load outs let you play exactly the way you want to. Tired of getting worked over by more agile players as a point man, we removed all points from shields and armor, applied them to firepower, lock-on, and radar avoidance to create an ideal sniper. When we wanted to get back into the action, we put everything into defense and selected heavy-hitting close range actions. You can save multiple custom classes, and you can switch between them any time you burn in or activate a supply depot.
Section 8’s multiplayer supports many of the extras that gamers have come to expect from top-tier multiplayer games: A ranking system tied to experience points, robust stat tracking and a central community website. It also boasts the ability run a PC server for Xbox 360 games, allowing for up to 32 players and exclusive settings like low gravity. Xbox-hosted games can support a still-impressive 16 players, and the inclusion of bots in multiplayer means that you’ll never have trouble finding a full game. You can also search for human-only games if you like, keeping with TimeGate’s mantra of giving players options on how they want to play.
Unquestionably, Section 8 is a rock-solid multiplayer game that deserves to find a strong audience. But it certainly has its faults. The underwhelming campaign, über-generic setting, mediocre graphics, and occasional frame rate loss plague this otherwise excellent experience. The addition of the Instant Action single-player mode is nice for players who want more practice against AI before they go online, but like the single-player campaign, it feels like filler compared to the multiplayer mode. Still, Section 8 offers a unique experience that sets it aside from the other shooters on the market.
Oct 12, 2009