We had the opportunity to check out more of the multiplayer component of the futuristic first-person shooter Section 8 during a brief hands-on session at E3. Unfortunately, the single-player mode wasn't on display, but we do know that it focuses on the group called Section 8, which happens to be battling a splinter group of soldiers known as The Arm of Orion. Both are fighting for control of a colony called New Madrid. Section 8's multiplayer supports up to 16 players in a regular server match and up to 32 on a dedicated server. Our particular match seemed to have a mixture of bots and other players on the show floor.
Who's Making This Game: The development team behind Section 8, TimeGate Studios also worked on the expansions to the first-person shooter F.E.A.R., so they're pretty familiar with shooting stuff.
What The Game Looks Like: From a visual standpoint, Section 8 resembles a mixture of Battlefield, Tribes, and even Halo. The futuristic elements in the guns, player models, and vehicles all function as an interesting contrast to the relatively barren desert-like environment (save for the massive bases you're attempting to take) on display in this particular match. However, the few rock formations located in and around the base serve as more than just a bit of extra detail. You can actually use them to get into pretty good sniping positions.
What There Is To Do: Since the match we played was a straightforward team deathmatch action with Section 8 facing off against The Arm of Orion, the main objective was to rack up as many kills as possible while attempting to storm the base and take it over.
How The Game Is Played: Before the start of the match, we had the option to heavily customize a soldier. You can change everything from active options, such weapons and equipment (grenades, knives), to more passive options, such as shield plating and stealth capabilities. The idea is to customize your character in such a way that fits a particular style of play but with a limited number of points to disperse into the passive options. If you're trying to play as a quick hit-and-move style of soldier, then you probably want to beef up on the stealth ability and select weapons that can do a decent amount of damage in a short period of time. Conversely, if you want to create a tanklike soldier, then it would be a good idea to max out armor plating or the shield boosters and equip yourself with some heavy weaponry.
Once we adjusted everything to our liking, we jumped into the match. What's cool about the way soldiers spawn in Section 8 is that they drop in from the upper atmosphere. You can see other players coming down from the sky, and if you happen to be one of them, you can control the last few seconds of your drop. This proves to be incredibly useful if you're trying to get into a nice sniping position or if you're trying to take out a sniper. That's right--there are no one-hit kills in Section 8, at least not in the traditional sense, but you can kill other players by simply landing on their head, Mario-style.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to see this for ourselves, but the second we hit the ground, there was plenty of incoming fire, which gave us an opportunity to try out some maneuvering features. In addition to an incredibly useful jetpack (thankfully, standard equipment), you can also use something called overdrive, which lets you run around the map at breakneck speed for a short period of time, and considering how large some of the maps will be in Section 8, it should get plenty of use. After running around for a bit and taking out some enemies near the base, it was finally time to deploy some equipment and vehicles, ranging from AA cannons to massive tanks that can seat up to four other players. The equipment available to you depends on the number of credits you have (which are awarded based on your in-game performance) as well as your position relative to enemy weaponry and equipment. Also of note is that vehicles, like tanks, appear on the map via a dropship that flies in to unload them, but the dropship can be taken out before getting rid of the cargo, so it's not a good idea to ask for one near enemy antiaircraft guns. After some intense firefights, our team successfully took the base and started to put antiaircraft cannons around the outside areas as we moved on the defensive.
What They Say: TimeGate Studios is aiming to take some of the best parts of the Battlefield series (and other first-person shooters) and integrate them seamlessly into a multiplayer style setting.
What We Say: Maybe it's just how the jetpacks factor into combat, but Section 8 feels quite a bit like the Tribes games of old at this point. Sure, it may not be quite as involved as the Tribes games in that it doesn't seem like you need to have a serious coordinated effort to take over a base--brute force seems to work just fine--but there's definitely something good at work here. We just hope that it all comes together (and that we can check out the single-player campaign) before Section 8's release this fall.