Going boldly where no developer has gone before, and for a fraction of the price.

User Rating: 9 | Section 8: Prejudice X360
Developed and published solely by TimeGate Studios, Prejudice is the download-only sequel to the 2009 shooter IP Section 8. The original provided a shooting experience that tried it's best to be a jack of all trades, but the lasting impression was that it didn't actually excel in anything it tried to accomplish and as a full retail game it quickly fell into obscurity. Promising to pack more content and for a quarter of the price ($15, which I think is around £10-£12), Prejudice betters its predecessor in basically every way. Here's why.

For anyone that hasn't played the original Section 8, first thing's first. You don't respawn in this series. You drop in from the sky which is, quite honestly, totally freaking awesome. It also gives you the freedom to employ your own strategy onto the battlefield. Drop into a perfect sniping position if you fancy, or into a group of foes and mow them down like a crazy shotgun-toting fool. There are even more options than that, and the choice is yours alone (I'd just watch out though because people can land on you, and crush-kill you instantly). After revelling in the novelty of dropping in, which you come across in Prejudice' opening mission you will come to grips with the campaign itself. It's nothing special in all honestly and you'll encounter enough clichés to make you cringe. Not like that's a totally bad thing – the campaign drops in at about five hours and offers a surprising amount of diversity with the use of weapons, vehicles and game locales. Just don't expect the story itself to rival Hamlet (but it's probably longer, and better, than Homefront - a full retail release).

The meat of Prejudice is pretty much in the multiplayer (and that's it by the way for campaign, I'm not going to lie. Finito). Unlike the cliché, yet still strangely satisfying campaign Prejudice' multiplayer is a complete revelation in it's own right. There is one game mode known as Conquest, but it packs everything that you'd expect from different fps multiplayer modes into one. This is done through DCMs(Dynamic Combat Missions). These have you and your team doing all sorts of different gun-based shenanigans for points that contribute to your victory counter (which is usually set at 1000). Examples of these include escorting VIP's, retrieving intel and protecting convoys. There are nine DCMs in total and they offer something different everytime you play. Because of this repetition in Conquest is unlikely for a while, but a word of caution: don't try to go lone wolf with these DCMs, team work actually pays.

Working with others and not alone is what makes the gameplay especially intriguing, and awesome, about Prejudice. In contrast to the vast majority of other shooters, kill-death is pretty much redundant. You'll actually find yourself wanting instead to assist allies in their latest crusade to obtain victory points, and this can be made easier via "deployables". Through killing and assisting, in-game credits can be earned toward dropping equipment and vehicles in similar fashion to your own Halo ODST-esque antics. You can place down turrets, supply depots, sensor arrays, hover-bikes and tanks that either you or team mates can use. It adds tower-defence to content already bursting at the seams with the anarchy-inducing DCMs, the strategic drop-in mechanic, and oh yeah, the shooting part.

The deployables really come into their own however in the four player Swarm co-op mode. Although questionably similar to the Horde mode of Gears and the Firefight mode of Halo, I found that in Prejudice the Swarm mode gave a completely different approach to the defending an area "mode", in this instance defending a "command post". That different approach is basically because of deployables. Placing down turrets is strategic and requires genuine thought and when things get hectic they are truly needed tools of destruction against the oncoming legion of enemy AI. The Swarm mode however (as well as the multiplayer generally) does suffer from a lack of maps. The developers have promised more maps are on the way, so we could be seeing a co-op mode that gives Horde and Firefight a true run for their money.

Another real draw about Prejudice' gameplay is the level of class customisation. At the start there are six preset classes that all have their own unique benefits, but are fairly generic. These include Assault, Engineer and Recon among others. These can be changed according to your needs and the amount of equipment available is none other than mouth-watering. Not only are there seven base weapons, but then there are different ammo mods, armour types, tool variations (e.g. mortars, grenades, repair tools), and then the brilliantly thought-out passive modules. These passive modules vary drastically and only a limited number are available, so when smartly placed these can enhance your capabilities on the battlefield tenfold – the choice of what you want to boost in each of the six classes adds another dimension to the ever deepening strategy behind Prejudice' gameplay. Should you boost damage, shields, armour, lock-on (where you can focus fire on an enemy for a few seconds) or overdrive (basically running real fast which is helpful as the maps are pretty big)? These are just a few of the choices available, while personally I sport Conquest and Swarm classes that suit me well at the minute. This customisation adds great longevity to the multiplayer in particular, which complements the unlocks and other incentives such as feats and badges that can be awarded as well as a ranking system to boot!

And for all that punch, it's hard not to recommend Prejudice to anyone who is a gold member on Xbox Live at the moment. Hell, even silver members seeing as the campaign is varied and fairly long, and the bots will give you a good challenge (bot filled Conquest and Swarm games are available). Prejudice quite simply offers more content than many retail games currently do (I believe Homefront is the latest suspect) and for a much lower price. It boasts outstanding online and co-op modes that can be enjoyed time and time again which is down to the variety of both Dynamic Combat Missions, and the ability to drop in deployables. Although it does have a few niggling flaws outside of the shallow campaign which include an initially aggravating menu and a chunk of time needed to develop your own strategy, these are testament to the product TimeGate Studios have produced. The gameplay is fundamentally superb and the multiplayer adds much needed longevity to the experience. Let's just hope a decent-sized community develops to take advantage of this great package at such a low price.
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