Section 8: Prejudice, the follow-up to last year's sci-fi multiplayer shooter, is upgrading several features players felt came up short. More guns, more gadgets, and a fully featured single-player campaign are all in the works, but what caught our eye was the new multiplayer mode: Swarm. Together with developer TimeGate Studios, we decided to hit the battlefield and check out this new mode, and the new game's improvements.
Swarm is a cooperative multiplayer mode that pits you against three waves of enemies--not unlike Gears of War 2's Horde mode--and tasks you with preventing these fiends from capturing a lone control point. The enemies in each wave are staggered, so you won't be fighting them all at once, but if you're not quick, your aggressors will completely overrun you with numbers. To help even the odds, each wave also has a time limit. Hold out until the end, and an airstrike is conveniently called down to clear out the remaining foes, buying you some time to regroup for the next wave. Hold out against all three, and you win.
While our first match across a frozen tundra ended in an icy grave, our second round, which was set in a dense jungle, sent a more favorable wind our way. At the start, we selected our weapon loadout and landing zone before being launched via drop pod to the jungle arena below. Upon landing, a quick appraisal of this compact battlefield showed that our control point was inside a small outpost with a commanding view of the battlefield. Once we were in position, the control point was activated and the match began.
In the skies above we spotted our foes making their descent. As they slammed into the battlefield, our superior positioning let us snipe with impunity. A few quick kills netted us enough requisition points to start purchasing defensive structures, such as antipersonnel machine gun turrets, long-range missile platforms, and medical stations. Halfway into the second wave, the game tossed a dynamic combat mission (DCM) our way to change things up. DCMs provide you with bonus combat objectives, in this case escorting a VIP unit from the far side of the map to our base. To help cover the gap, we called in a speedy hoverbike. While it can't turn on a dime, the hoverbike packs plenty of firepower and was just what we need to get the job done. With the VIP secured, we now had a powerful ally and ultimately emerged victorious.
Flush with victory, we jumped into Prejudice's second multiplayer game mode, Conquest--a carryover from the original Section 8. Conquest is all about amassing points, which you earn by holding control points and completing DCMs. The first side to reach a set number of points wins. Our arena, an expanded version of the jungle map we just left, provided us with enough room to take advantage of the improved tank and mech suit. The tank, a slow-moving death wagon built for two, is equipped with a devastating cannon for the driver and a machine gun turret for the copilot gunner. The personal mech suit is also armed with a deadly machine gun and can easily execute foes who fall into its robotic grip.
While neither is especially quick, both the tank and the mech suit felt very durable and easily traversed the terrain without getting snagged on the geometry. As the fight progressed, various DCMs were assigned to either side, forcing us to split our attention between capturing points, completing bonus objectives, and denying the enemy its bonuses. This three-way battle means there's always a way to contribute to the fight outside of simply scoring kills. As the firefight came to a close, we scrambled to reach the score cap but ended up tasting bitter defeat for a second time at the hands of our AI aggressors.
Though we might not have won every battle, we can tell from the time we've spent with the game that the multiplayer in Prejudice will be fast, frantic, and always full of options. A constant string of upgrades and unlocks should keep you clamoring for seconds, while the persistent stat tracking and promised online clan management tools will be a boon to any multiplayer fanatic. And should you find yourself flying solo, AI bot support for both modes is there for you to test your mettle in the absence of human competition. Be sure to check out Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Steam, and other digital outlets for Section 8: Prejudice early next year.