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Section 8 – updated impressions

TimeGate Studios, the developers who soothed many an itchy trigger finger by releasing several Alma-haunting expansions between the release of F.E. A.R. and its recent sequel Project Origin, are setting their FPS sites on their most ambitious project to date. On the surface, Section 8 resembles little more than yet another sci-fi shooter looking to ride Master Chief's Spartan coattails, but beneath the beefy, shiny-armored heroes carrying big guns, the South Peak published title shows its true game-changing colors. Much more than just the latest save-the-planet frag fest, Section 8 is looking to fix some of the genre's most notorious fun-halting flaws.

Heads up!
Anyone who's dug deep into even the best online shooters has no doubt experienced the problems plaguing players' respawns; whether it be spawn point campers, or just a ticking clock telling you when you can re-enter the battle, the respawn can be a fun-siphoning bitch. So, how does Section 8 put this multiplayer menace in its place? "Burn-in Spawns," baby! Yep, the concept is as cool as the name, as it allows players to not only jump back into the action immediately, but also wherever they want on the map. Even sweeter, they come in from above - like 20,000 feet above - and hit the ground with the appropriate impact, so spawning in directly on top of an enemy and turning them into pavement goo is just a click away. Now, this might sound like it carries its own exploitive pitfalls, but Section 8's spawn-in map is populated with anti-air-tagged danger zones, so, while you're welcome to drop in behind enemy lines, it'll be at your own risk.

Death-dealing deliveries
Delivering mach speed death from above isn't the only way TimeGate is planning on improving the competitive online landscape; the ability to call in high-tech baddie-blasting hardware also tweaks the genre by doing away with the predictable patterns that sully many multiplayer experiences. Rather than fighting the opposition - and your teammates - for a cockpit spot in a tank that's always positioned on the exact same spot on the map, you can use in-game funds to call in the heavy metal wherever you like. Same goes for turrets, anti-aircraft units, and pilotable mech suits.

Section 8's promising tweaks definitely hold the potential to fix things that many seasoned online gamers feel are "broken" in their genre of choice. We're yet to see these ambitious concepts fully utilized in an online match, and we're curious to see what these features will add to the title's solo campaign. But based on our first look, which undeniably piqued are interest as soon as we saw our futuristic super-soldier thrust to the ground from the heavens above, we can't wait to see what else Section 8 has planned for the multiplayer masses.

Apr 9, 2009