Section 8

Section 8 may be almost two years out, but our recent look at the game was no less captivating. Without all that much to show Timegate Studios, the indie developers of the popular F.E.A.R. expansions, still managed to make our trigger fingers tremble. To start with, the map in our demo was huge. We didn't get to see it populated, but it looked like it could easily handle a 64+ server count.

The goal appeared to be to capture points on the map, but the developer's poo-pooed the notion that it was just that simple. By capturing a point, you don't just hoist a flag or change the paint. The giant outposts will shift and move to represent the faction that owns it. And to add to the immersion, soldiers can receive a kick-up to their health and cover when around their base, and get significant discounts on vehicles and weapons. Cool stuff, just don't call them "spawn points."

But Section 8's main draw is the manner of your arrival. The "Burn-in" spawn mechanic has you dropping from a ship miles above the planet. You'll careen back towards the map's surface in a similar way to Master Chief's grand entrance in Halo 3. Your perspective jostles and high velocity flames surround you. Thank God for that heavy suit of armor, because you're basically transformed into a living comet every time you enter a map. You still have a pretty clear view of the map, so if you see incoming fire or encroaching tanks, you can pull your e-brake to steer for a little cover.

This only takes a couple seconds to do, but it's pretty visceral. You're not limited to spawning at any of your capture points, nay. Instead you can pick any spot on the map. You have the option of ignoring the e-brake and cratering into the earth's surface like a sentient asteroid, at only minor loss to your shields or health. But here's the fun part: slamming into a tank or enemy will cause damage. You are the gravity gun!

We were also told that there will be a single-player campaign as well. Although it won't be vital to the multiplayer experience, it will provide deeper knowledge into utilizing weaponry, manning vehicles and creating your own choke points. Also you'll get to learn the Section 8's story. We only got to see two of the races called the 8th armored infantry and the Arm of Orion (both humans in armored suits), but they've hinted that other species could be on the horizon.

Similar to classics like Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, Section 8 isn't so sci-fi as to be unbelievable. Beautiful as the lush worlds, powerful weapons and mammoth vehicles may be, they've still got one foot left in reality. What, no Splaz0rz?

Mar 12, 2008